On the Tiles

Jenny

A guy tried to squeeze past the throng of people who crowded the dance floor, and as he craned ahead to look for a friend, he slipped on a puddle of spilt drink. Alarmed, he grabbed on heavily to a girl nearby for support, who gave a most terrified look as the front of her dress was nearly pulled right down. There was a ripple of loud laughter and five minutes later I was still in silent hysterics. It was so funny! How could no one be finding this still hilarious?

“Did you see the look on her face!?” I doubled over and wheezed continuously in my own world of happiness and took another swig at my drink that was decidedly low. I needed another.

"I seriously hate Gabriella. Why does she have to go ordering me around. She's just so irritating! Argh!" My rather enthusiastic gesture slopped a good amount of drink onto my turquoise dress.

"Ohh!" I moaned and swiped at the damp patch. "That's gonna stain. But anyway, yeah, she's just so irritating!"

"Yeah, you said that already."

"I did? Oh." I looked down into a drained plastic cup. I wanted another drink. I uncrossed my bambi-like legs and made to get up. The room spun a little but I was fine.

"Jen, you probably shouldn't have any more."

"Oh I'll be fine, I promise. I don't feel light-headed at all," I called back.

Slipping into a gap between the clump of bare shoulders, I leaned into the bar on tip-toe, shouting my order over the din that pressed on my chest and the pain that pulsed in my arches. My gaze lingered on the bartender's eyes as he placed a brimming drink on the side and smiled at me; I felt a jolt of pleasure and continued to stare even though normally I’d glance away. He had such nice eyes. I found myself randomly wondering if the mystery guy's eyes were like that. Blue or green. Or brown even. Blue I decided.

The night went on, the music making bodies throb in unison and sweat mingle from all the heated jostling. My head quickly became heavy and as though doused in engine oil, my neck rolled heavily from side to side and a dizziness spiralled downwards through my entire body. I slumped down on the couch next to Kate and the others, the throbbing in my feet easing a little. As I flopped forwards to loosen the strap of my shoe a little, I noticed the staring gaze of yet another guy. Normally I relished any attention I got, and even though I was rarely confident enough to make a move on it, I still felt pleased at the thought that I was attracting the interest of quite a few guys. Yet tonight I couldn't shake the idea that no one here interested me; like I was reserved for someone else, someone I didn't know yet. Even that fit guy who Kate convinced me kept on looking over, seemed to turn me off. He was probably older than me though. Like most of the guys here.

It was easier to push that thought aside since I had more pressing things on my mind. Literally. My eyes were so...heavy. I could do nothing except give in to their forceful closure. The blissful darkness and feeling of sleep that followed instantly swallowed me, shutting out those glaring flashes of synthetic cyans, neon strobe pulses and swishing bleached blondes. The sharp shrieks and thumpings melted away into muffled laughter mixed into a peaceful babble, like a small bubbling stream trickling over rocks, seeping away into the crevices. It felt like I was underwater where everything was quiet and no one could awaken me.

"Jen's falling asleep again!"

Let them talk - they were miles away. This sleep was heavenly yet this seat was so uncomfortable; I had to lie down. I curled up across the couch and let the sleep consume me.

***

"Lay her down here. Yeah, that's fine. Whoops." Peals of laughter reached my ears as I felt air rush to my feet and heard two thuds follow.

"Haha, don't worry about them." The coldness of the sheets was delightfully crisp. They were folded in over me.

"It's alright, I can look after her now. Thanks for helping bring her up." Kate chuckled. "I'll be down in a minute." The rumble of low voices and laughter left the room and then echoed around the stairwell and finally faded to silence as the door clicked shut.

What were they doing? Why was I back in my room!? I didn't want to be home, I wanted to be back at the club. I was fine.

"No, Jen, you're staying here." My futile attempts to rise were halted by a whoosh of dizziness. I peered into the dimness and found Kate's concerned face staring back into mine.

"I told you you shouldn't have had any more! Look, your phone's here on the side and there’s a bowl here too. If you need me or anything, just call. I'm going home soon myself, anyway."

"Oh I'm sorry you had to bring me back home! I'm so pathetic!"

"No, you just drank too much Jen. I did try and tell you!" She gave me that disapproving look. There was a tense pause. "Well, you get some sleep now, okay?"

I mumbled my thanks humbly and curled up as she rose to leave, the bed creaking a little. The door closed and I was in inky darkness, alone again. As I let my eyelids drop, the spinning relentlessly surged. It whirled, making my head hammer and I felt like I was falling, falling into an endless pit. Finally, after a while it eased and I drifted off into a dead, dreamless sleep.

***

The heat from the pounding shower was almost orgasmic as the jets of water beat down onto my aching back. I stood there, motionless, allowing last night's sweat and grime to wash away as I watched the water drip from the tips of my soaking tangled hair. The droplets fell to the floor of the shower, joining the rest of the bubbly flow that swirled towards the plughole. I wondered where they would end up and wished I could follow their turbulent journey down the drain, through the pipes, into a river and out to sea where I could just float. 

These last free days had gone pleasurably slowly. It made sense though - I’d been forced to take a long weekend to fill up my extra days of holiday that I’d neglected to use up this year. I decided it was nice after all, having some time off to relax; to take stock of things.  What was today? Sunday. One more day until I went back to work. I wasn’t bothered though - I was still keen to get back. My friends didn't understand why I loved my job so much. I was just lucky I suppose.

As I rinsed off the conditioner, I smiled just thinking back to last night. But then after a while, my smile slowly faded as the events started to seep back with fresh humiliation in the cruel light of day and return of a clear mind. I felt a wave of guilt thinking about how Kate had had to take care of me. Again. Then another crash hit me as I cringily remembered my stupid resistance and violent lashings out to being put in the car and taken home. I needed to stop fooling myself into thinking I could hold my drink and that I could still go out and pretend and party like I was a teenager. I was 27. What was I doing?! I sighed angrily, turning off the shower with a violent twist, and stood there dripping and shivering for a good ten minutes as if punishing myself would somehow make me younger.

The End

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