She called herself Poison, and she danced like the world was about to end.
I saw her from the balcony of the club, and for ten minutes I just stood there, watching her. She had placed herself right in the middle of the dancefloor, as though she were its queen and everyone else was just there to pay homage. From time to time, someone would try to dance with her and she’d ignore them regally. Eventually, some guys had appointed themselves her bodyguards and danced in close attendance, but never close enough to intrude.
Is it worth saying that she was a vision? It wasn’t just the way she moved, every limb snapping out and coiling back in, her back arching and twisting, her long purple hair flicking from side to side like a snake striking at its prey. She was dressed in silver and black and her skin was pale as moonlight. Her eyes were closed most of the time, but when she opened them, she seemed to be looking for something.
I decided she was looking for me.
I’m not much of a dancer. Never have been and never will be. The dancefloor seems too much like warfare to me, and I’m not a fighter. But the vision of her drew me in irresistibly, as it had so many others before me. I walked down the stairs slowly, savouring the anticipation.
I didn’t try to dance my way across the floor, so that I could “accidentally” gyrate myself into her orbit. I didn’t like the dishonesty of that, so I just walked on through, ignoring whatever buffets and angry stares I received along the way. Slowly and surely, I made my way to the heart of the battle, where she waited.
I caught a glimpse of her just as one of her attendants stepped in the way. She was still engrossed in her dancing; he barely noticed me until I was right in front of him. His eyes were full of disdain when he saw me, and he shifted himself so that he was more thoroughly blocking my path. Big, sweaty and belligerent, he looked the type who would settle for a fight if he couldn’t have sex, and if he was devoting himself to her for the evening, a fight was all he was likely to get.
The pounding of the music makes talking pointless, out there in the chaos. There was no argument I could put forward that could persuade him in any case, and he could twist me into a pretzel if he decided that was his best move. So I just stared past him, at her. This was the moment to tell whether or not I was right, to stake my evening on an obsession.
When her eyes next flicked open, they were looking straight at me. She didn’t halt her dancing and she didn’t smile, but nor did she look away. I held her gaze until the music changed, that strange limbo moment when everyone loses the rhythm and seeks to find it again. My opponent took this opportunity to lay a hand on my shoulder and seek to drive me away. My staring at her had evidently annoyed him, so now I switched to looking at him instead.
Whether or not we would have come to blows, I’ll never know, for a moment later, her hand was on his shoulder. He turned to see her looking at me and shrank away, accepting her touch as the only benediction he’d have this evening. The shell had been broken and I was invited in to her inner sanctum.
As I said, I’m not much of a dancer, but with her it was different. It helped that her eyes weren’t closed any more – they were fixed on me, just as mine were on her. I began to feel the rhythm through my feet and to move in time with her. She didn’t so much follow the beat as allow herself to be carried along with it, and slowly I learned the trick of it.
At first, we were dancing an arm’s length apart, but as I began to loosen up, that distance began to fade. The closer we got, the more in concert our movements became. So much so that I couldn’t even tell when we finally touched. We’d been moving together for moments beforehand, millimetres between our skin, then even less. The first touch was far from the last step. Soon we were moving as one, like two snakes coiled around one another.
How long we were like this I couldn’t tell, but it ended when her hand closed on mine. All of a sudden she was leading me off the dance floor, sending rippling waves of consternation as she passed through the crowds without any heed of their personal space. I followed like a moon still in orbit around her, and in only a few moments we were out into the night, the air from the club steaming as it hit the chill atmosphere of a dark alley.
That we made love there in the darkness seemed like the most natural thing in the world. It was just taking our dance somewhere private, to where we could discard the mass of humanity that had served no purpose other than to bring us together. There as we shuddered together, she whispered her name into my ear in a last gasp.
Afterwards, we waited together in the darkness, still not speaking. There didn’t seem any need for it right then. When we moved, it was my turn to take the lead. We merged with the crowds leaving the club and jumped into the first taxi that passed by. Once we were in, I turned to her, looking as confident as I felt. “Your place or mine?”
She smiled for the first time that night, almost laughing. “Surprise me.”
Something had changed in us. The passion of the dance floor and the alley were still there, but speaking even for a moment had broadened it. We felt as though we were reverting to our youth, making out in the back seat of the taxi as it hurtled through the night. It was joyfulness, a shared sense of release, that buoyed us up.
When we stepped out of the taxi, she turned to me again and smiled wickedly. “How did you know?”
I said nothing, just smiled a smile of promise at her. She opened the door with her keys and we slipped inside, as quiet as mice. For that moment, we were children again, sneaking through the house, afraid to wake anyone, having to stop ourselves from laughing out of sheer hilarity. We took our shoes off and crept upstairs. She paused at an open door and drew me to her. Inside was a large bedroom, soberly laid out in adult tones. Uninhabited. With a kiss, she drew me in and closed the door behind me.
I woke to a buzzing head and a dry throat. She was sleeping beside me, her purple hair discarded to reveal blonde locks. Last night’s makeup was still on her face, but it didn’t make her look any less beautiful. I kissed her without making her stir and then got up. I needed a glass of water.
Downstairs, in a perfect kitchen, I couldn’t stop smiling. Not even when the little blond boy wandered in. He looked at me with some suspicion before pulling himself onto a seat at the table. In response to his unspoken command, I retrieved bowl, spoon, cereal and milk for him. Only then did he seem mollified.
“You and mom were out late last night.”