Gatecrashing the City of Dreams

The hall was sweaty hot, filled with flushed, smiling faces, and bodies clad in the latest fashions. Around the edges, people drank squashy plastic pints of beer and brittle jars of outlandishly coloured cocktails. In the space between, people danced, some only notionally together, others possessively close, gyrating to the thudding beat pouring out of the speakers.

We did the rounds on arrival, and I was introduced to handshakes and hugs from family and friends alike.

“So pleased to meet you!” cried the gently drunken birthday girl, pulling me in for a sloppy hug. The feeling seemed to permeate the room, and I relaxed more than I’d ever usually manage. Nobody questioned my outfit or my looks; I was with Pauline, and that was enough for them.

“Drink?” she asked at one point, after we’d danced for an hour straight. I nodded, too parched to talk.

I dread to think what she saw in my face on her return.

“What did he say?”

Make her cry and you’re a dead man.

She kissed me, then, and led me out to dance.

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