We wore neon. Neon tights, neon tube tops, neon eyeliner.
Alex drew a water bottle from her bag, an evil-smelling liquid lurking within it. We swigged, immediately regretting our false confidence. The liquid burned its’ path down through our bodies, until our eyes widened – windows snapped open in a storm.
Licking the fiery residue from our lips, we began to giggle conspiratorially. We were bank robbers, highwaymen, bandits.
A blur of acidic hues, we passed our housemistress – waving at her jollily and bidding her the most wonderful of evenings. In reality, she would be scouring our dormitory – only to find it fumigated with perfume, a crinkled water bottle (re-filled with mouthwash), poking out harmlessly from a handbag. We were good bandits.
The music leaked out from the sports hall as we approached. Our shoes became dampened from the grass, as we ran and danced across it, shouting, singing into the indigo sky. We were giddy and young, we were free.
At the door we were scrutinised. Those too scantily-clad were sent back to change, those who did not believe that they were too scantily-clad held one-on-one debating sessions with the teacher in question (then went back to change).
But no debates tonight – past the judges in cardigans and sensible brogues, we were in.
A machine blasted out gases, creating a haze around the crowd already jumping and gyrating. We were swept up in the chaos of it all – earlier we had slumped, head in hands, watching like old dogs as Mr McGuire pointed out the key features of an ox-bow lake. All of that energy jammed shut inside of us, seeping out occasionally in the form of a fidget or a leg-jiggle. Now, we sprung out of ourselves, a tightly coiled spring released – we danced wildly – “I LOVE THIS SONG!”
There. Across the room I spotted him. My ‘name surrounded by hearts’ boy – I composed myself and batted a glittered eyelid in his direction, blush rapidly creeping across my cheeks as my friends cooed and giggled.
Was he looking at me? My pulse accelerated, time slowed.
Wait, what? The raven-haired girl had looped her arm around him. Arms. Both were around his neck. Why would he let her do that? He would push her away soon, and stride across the dance-floor to proclaim his undying love, I just knew it. It was fine. Totally fine.
They couldn’t be drawing closer, it was just the flashing lights. He wouldn’t do that after liking my profile picture. They were just good friends, really good friends. He was just whispering in her ear because she was hard of hearing – that was it, he was sweet like that. Probably telling her the rugby score because she missed the match earlier, (I didn’t, my toes remind me, still tingling from the cold).
Oh, it was ok, she was smiling toward me – probably realising that she’d just got confused, he wasn’t for her at all. Her teeth flashed in the lights, was she laughing at me? Why would she be laughing? She tossed her dark hair.
A part of me died.
‘Just Dance’, sang Lady Gaga in mockery.