Death of the Party

by Russ

There’s a point in every great night where it needs to finish if it’s going to remain great. Of course, it never does, because it’s still a great night at that point. Why would anyone end a night while it’s still great? All you want to do then is to find ways to make it greater, or at least longer.

Whatever. Judging by the way this nonsense was looping through my head as I sat on a stranger’s kitchen floor, that point had faded into history hours ago. I sat staring with curious eyes at the gaggle of half-known faces dividing up powders as they smoked over the kitchen table. It was the smoking indoors which felt the most taboo to me, rather than the open drug market taking place wherever I pointed my eyes. That’s the sort of party my unwillingness to give in had brought me, not the Dionysian orgy of indulgence which flickered through my sparkled brain when the suggestion had floated at lights-up, but rather an opportunity for a couple of semi-pro dealers to pick at the carcass of the party and empty the last of the pockets.

Of course, I’d indulged. The whole point in trailing this crowd of waifs to an edge-of-town terrace was to maintain the feelings I’d been buying since I walked into the club. I’d barely noticed my mates filter off, chatting with whoever happened to fill the pavement beside me and become my immediate best friend. Now I sat alone, leaning back against an oven, while those already forgotten links retreated into shadows, hiding from the dawn as it pushed through the half-curtained windows.

I looked around at the various clusters, searching for someone to cling to. Nobody was looking back. I landed on a pale thigh hanging from the loose split in a long skirt and traced up to its owner, a girl on the edge of a group who’d found themselves cushions around a coffee table. She must have felt my gaze, and looked up for a second, her eyes fighting through the thick black rings painted to protect them. My last connection of the night - one expressionless second before she fell back to dropping flakes into her rolling paper, and I was flushed with the urge.

The urge is what comes when the last vestige of self-preservation breaks through and makes you overwhelmingly aware that its time to stop trying to steal joy, like a crook in the night, and get yourself home before you get caught. It felt like a physical change in me which everyone could see, but nobody reacted. Slowly, using the counter above for support, I found a way to my feet and looked around for someone to who I could announce my departure. Finding nobody, I slipped through the array of potted humans and let myself out by the front door. I blinked for a moment against the day and tried to find steady feat while I got my bearings. Comfort was at least a twenty-minute walk from here. I pulled fraction of the sky through my nose and took the first step, pushing down the rising shame of another night which could have been great.