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Contemporary Funny Romance

There are exactly three exits, four spots of relative isolation, six absolute no-go zones, two acquaintances I must avoid, and at least seven people whose names I do not remember.


"Cheer up, Maya," says Matt, patting my back. "This isn't a funeral. For god's sake, you went to school with these people. Try to have some fun."


Fun would have been me in my room with a good book or a movie, alone. This is the opposite of fun. It's loud, obnoxious. I don't know the people who recognize me and the people I recognize don't know me. Elaine sees me— she looks right at me— and her eyes slide over like feet on oil.


"What exactly am I supposed to do?"


"You're supposed to have fun," says Matt, leading me through the crowd. I update the escape routes in my head. "Talk to people. You've been on your own for way too long."


"There's nothing for me to talk about," I say knowing full well it's no use. We had the same conversation in the car. "Nothing that interesting has happened since the last time I met these people


"Interesting things won't come to your apartment and ask to be let in," says Mat the Wise. "You've to seek them out."


Out of the corner of my eye I spot Sienna and some guy I vaguely remember. Oh no, they've seen us. Matt's talking to some guy. My instincts are dusty, but I manage to slide into the noisy crowd before they get me.


That was close! Just keep walking. Don't make eye contact. I ninja my way to one of the safe zones— every party has a few— where I can ride out the night. Being here is like being invisible. But there are rules. The longer you stay the more likely you are to draw the attention of the kind ones. The ones who just can't stand the sight of people who just want to be left alone. Oh noo, everyone must mingle. The Agent Smiths of the party matrix.

As I scan the room, I notice Sienna again. She's showing Matt something on her finger. Looks like she's showing off the the guy too. Matt's head sticks above the rest of the crowd like an antenna. Then, to my horror, it starts turning like a radar, scanning. Sorry, Matt. I don't know you till we get back in the car. I plunge back into the mass of people.


Is it ironic that my skills at avoiding people have dulled because I have been avoiding people for too long? I can't very well go to parties just to practice hiding at parties. Regardless I slipped up. The dance floor was the one area I had to avoid at all costs, but in my hurry to fly under Matt's radar, I skirted too close to the edge of the dance floor.


"Sorry," I mumbled to the person I bumped into.


"Wait." It's Elaine of all people, grabbing my shoulders. "It's been so long. Where have you been?"


Her eyes don't slide off me, but there isn't a hint of recognition. In fact, she seemed determined to avoid looking anywhere but at me. Amateur. You have to pretend to slowly remember.


"You have no idea who I am."


"Sorry, sorry," says Elaine. Her lower lip curls under her teeth as her eyes dart this way and that. They finally come to rest on me as her lip slowly unfurls like a— stop that! Don't start that whole thing all over again.


"It's just that I'm trying to avoid this guy," says Elaine, her voice glides into my ears like a springtime— stop that! I missed whatever she said at the end there. No matter. Just smile and nod. People don't really want to hear a measured response. They just want to know you agree. So I smile and nod.


So why is she leading me into the middle of the dance floor? Okay, she doesn't lead me to the exact middle, but the dance floor is like the universe. All points are equally distant from the edge.


My brain is freaking out, dulling the sounds of the party while, at the same time, somehow amping up the stares. Don't these people have anything better to look at? The voice, way in the back of my head, telling me they're not all paying me their fullest attention is a filthy liar and she knows it. Look somewhere else people. It's a party, for crying out loud.


I'm a tiny insect caught in the middle of a ring of giants with floodlights for eyes.


Then Elaine turns around and places her hands on my waist, and my brain throws up her hands and retires for the night. She makes sure to shut down everything except the most basic functions and turn off the lights before leaving. Traitor.


Elaine's hips translate the rhythm, swaying like a bow on a violin. I feel like a literal language interpreter, stammering while trying to find the right moves to describe what I hear. Is there a dictionary for this? I could use a notepad. Wait, what were those beats again? Perhaps I should ask the band to repeat. I swear everyone else goes to secret dance lessons.


As the beat shifts and picks up, her hands, and legs, and neck, and chest, and eyes, and long reddish brown hair all accentuate the score. It's like watching a full body orchestra. I'm pretty sure I'm a robot— in desperate need of an oil change.


You're not as bad you think you are, says that weird girl living in the back of my head. Really, that must be why Elaine decided to personally guide me through the rest of the way.


And what a guide she is. She twirls and her hair brushes against my face. She beckons and I glide around her on winged feet. I hadn't realized the dance floor was this wide. She takes me through the ebb and flow of the music. We're lost in between the notes. There are no giants around us, staring at us. The only one who sees me is Elaine. The only one I see is Elaine.


Silence greets us as we wind down, panting, sweating. We separate. Once again I'm am insect surrounded by floodlight-eyed giants. Then some jackass starts clapping. It's Matt. Of course. As I follow the wave of onlookers picking it up, I realize we're in the middle of the dance floor.


"Let's get a drink," says Elaine, taking my hand. She leads me back into the crowd. She doesn't let go until we find some drinks. "That was fantastic."


"It was, but you still don't remember who I am."


She looks sheepish, cute.


"I'm Maya."


"I'm Elaine."


"I know," I say, wondering if I should say anymore.


"I really hope I didn't piss you off back in school," says Elaine. "I used to be kind of a—"


"You asked me out," I tell her. I moved past it a long time ago, so I'm surprised at the trickle of bitterness seeping into my voice. "On a dare from your friends, and stood me up."


"I'm so sorry," says Elaine, her eyes going wide. That she sounds genuinely horrified makes me happier than it should. She lets out a deep sigh. "I was terrible back then. Actually, I kinda spend our first reunion apologizing."


"I missed that one. And all the ones till now. My dear twin dragged me to this one. I'm not really into this whole thing." I include the entire hall as I sweep my hands to convey the sheer scope of things I'm not into. That elicits a giggle, like wind chimes in a summer breeze. If only there wasn't so much noise all around.


"But you enjoyed the dance, didn't you?" asks Elaine with a knowing smile and a twinkle in her eyes. She knows too much.


"Yes, I did. You wanna go another round?" What was that? That sounded more like a challenge to a duel than an invitation to dance?


I manage to gulp down my drink just before she leads me back.


*****

May 07, 2021 22:50

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4 comments

Dhwani Jain
06:57 May 21, 2021

Hello! It was an interesting story, to say the very least. I really iked the added bits of humour in the middle. However, I did find a few mistakes: "Interesting things won't come to your apartment and ask to be let in," says Mat the Wise. - I guess it should be Matt, instead of Mat Looks like she's showing off the the guy too. - I believe you need to omit one 'the' here. Rest, the story is amazing! Please do read some of my stories too! Looking forward to your reviews.

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N K
05:59 May 18, 2021

I really loved this story and the writing was amazing. I could relate so so much to Maya but I also love how the story progressed for her. The descriptions were really solid, and I especially liked the comparisons/metaphors like when you compared the partygoers to a "ring of giants with floodlights for eyes". That was so vivid and hilarious. The sense of humour was really great throughout. Great job!

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Dhevalence .
05:17 May 17, 2021

Love the story. Been there, felt that. Great similes. Well done

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Saurabh Singh
13:28 May 15, 2021

Nice flow in narration! Love it

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