Written in May 2013:
For the past few weeks, my Wednesday evenings have become a source of newfound inspiration, an outlet for my creativity (and an overdrive for my sweat glands). I decided to attend a short creative writing course in my bid to actually learn about something I have enjoyed doing for so long but have sidelined a little bit. It has been such an enjoying and yet terrifying journey so far and I’m not looking forward to it being over.
For this week’s assignment, our “teacher” tasked us to write about love. This was my most difficult endeavour so far. How do you write about something so personal and so uniquely felt and at the same time so written and spoken of without using a million of cliches? I gave this a go and it went down alright in class I guess. My fellow course mates liked the idea of the Ball so I thought I’d share it on my blog.
We are having a Ball!
She opened her eyes slowly while her hands looked for the phone but alas, they hit the stink bucket next to her pillow instead. As a combination of dizziness and gagging hit her at the same time as consciousness, she saw it. There it was, the glass of flat coke.
It was 5am and she was lying awake in bed, with her wet hair soaking the pillow – blending into a cakey paste the two shades of glitter eyeshadow and mascara that she had decided would look great the night before. Reaching for the glass, she had a few quick sips and laid back, grateful for his fizzy-less and sugary gesture, looking for his hand under the covers. He was there, as he had been for all the days and weeks and months before. As she squeezed his hand, half hoping he’d sleepily respond, he took her fingers in his.
She detected the hint of Apple Sourz in his breath and grimaced instantly with the flashbacks of knocking back shot glasses and licking sticky fingers. “I swear I am never doing shots, EVER AGAIN”, she thought, promising herself that she’d keep the vow this time.
She tried to concentrate back to sleep but her mind kept CSI-ing the steps that led her in bed with unrinsed shampoo in her hair and him next to her with what looked like bits of chocolate crusting on his stubble.
They had met at a friend’s birthday party and she had first thought he was gay. There wasn’t a campness about him, nothing that screamed ‘I too am fond of penis’ but she had and it was fine because that always made for a funny story when people asked them how they met. It could be something to break the ice in much dreaded dinner parties and could maybe used for bonding with future offspring.
He brought her ‘flours’ on their first date – somehow he remembered that she loved the scene from “Stranger than fiction” and she promised to bake him a cake as a thank you for the second one. Pretending to ignore the charred bits and Swiss cheese holes, he ate it with what seemed in her eyes like great pleasure.
They started seeing each other more often and whenever she was with him, she swore she could see their pheromones having their own little party over their heads. She took pleasure in imagining it was something like Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball; but with pheromones.
They took their Ball to sweaty gigs and dark screening rooms, they fed it buckets of KFC and cured its hangovers with Alka Seltzer. There were weekends away with the Ball, mornings that turned into afternoons and then into evenings spent under sheets and blankets. There were parks and beaches and city streets, London and Berlin and Brighton and Paris with locked hands, red chins and purple stained necks. There were nights in eating pizza and watching hours of TV – and occasionally cat videos.
Then there were the songs that she stopped singing to: some of them were in ownership of past relationships, some others in ownership of her old single self. Suddenly she didn’t want to put her hand up with all the ladies who didn’t want to put a ring on it and gesture invisible ex boyfriends to walk out the door because they weren’t welcome anymore.
As their Ball kept going, she had never thought it waning before; it was still loud and busy and fabulous as when the party started – much to the chagrin of her friends who complained that the pheromones Ball was all that she cared to attend.
Lying in bed, trembling a little bit from the drinking of the night before, she felt terrified at the thought of it being over.
Was it the whiff of acidity from the bucket and the fact he had actually seen her lean into it repeatedly? Or was it that she had the experience of previous Balls that could never have been featured in the pages of Vanity Fair? When excitement fizzled out too soon and the guests dispersed quickly leaving a few behind flirting awkwardly with the latecomers but ending up going home alone with wrinkled dresses and shirts half-tucked out of unbuttoned trousers.
“How are you feeling?”, he asked. “I brought you some Coke.” She looked at the glass, then at him and the music of the Ball was loud again and that was all that mattered.
This is hands-down my favourite thing that you have ever written. Really beautiful and very moving. (And, you know what? I thought I was the only one who felt that way about songs!)
Thank you very much Helena. It means so much to me in so many ways. I know, right? What happens to these songs? You’ve played them so many times and suddenly they make you feel so awkward and strange.