She walked in behind him. She much liked to stare at the ground while walking. Her mother said she slouched. Her mother also made it known to her that she thought that her esteem was low. She just did not want to step on gum, that’s all.
He wore blue. A faded blue tee covered by a denim sleeveless coat. Blue jeans, ripped at the knees. A blue beanie sat on his hairless head, slanting in a crooked, almost lifeless way. He was staring at the ground too. Or was he staring at his blue shoes…?
“What a way to embrace monochrome!” she thought to herself after stealing half a glance at him.
They passed the entrance to the Cultural Centre with their shoes almost touching. They were that close, yet they were strangers to each other.
The performances hadn’t started yet. She had been thinking she was late all the while so she sighed in relief at that. She sat herself at her usual spot, almost at the back of the auditorium. She liked that spot – not fully raised above the rest of the crowd yet raised enough for a panoramic view of the audience and stage. Mostly, she would occupy her time trying to deduce backstories for members of the audience who stuck out.
Today her eyes landed on him. Boy Blue. More like her eyes roved around the audience until she spotted him.
“Boy Blue…”, the voice in her head began.
“Boy blue with a forlorn hat. He is yawning. He woke up tired this morning, probably stayed awake half the night, texting a girl he never thought would give him the light of day. He had an early morning French class he needed to get up and commute to.
He is committed to this. This cause. Showing up each week to listen to poets spill their souls on stage. Missing it would be like missing a meal – he would feel a nagging pang at the pit of his stomach. He needs this time for words and himself. Words from a poet and thoughts from his mind. He hopes one day to climb up those steps and spew his own soul onto the stage.
What feeling do they get? Is it some sort of cathartic relief that no act on the body can replicate? I think these are questions he asks himself from time to time.
He feels trapped in time and space. Like each day leads only to the rising of the sun on the next. He sighs a lot. Today, he will both sigh and yawn. A lot.”
The sound of a beating drum slowly rises. It pulls her out of her reverie. This always happens – getting lost in her make-believe stories of strangers. She only half likes it though. It makes her feel like too much of a dreamer. A bit discontent with reality. She feels she is though. Discontent with something…
The performances are turning out to be quite memorable. Clapping. Snapping. The audience, especially Boy Blue, is enthralled. She likes it when she sees genuine smiles on people’s faces. Smiles emanating from souls content in the moment’s pleasures. Those smiles make her want to relive such moments. To stick onto them like quicksand.
The problem with a good run on the show is that she never wants it to end. No one does. The ending comes as unexpected as the beat of the drum marking its commencement. Today was no different. Such endings leave her with a deep thirst and longing for the next run. The next week’s run sadly, almost always, turns out to be less invigorating.
The show comes to a close. She stays seated taking in the audience’s departure.
But today is different. It is too noisy outside. Riots maybe? The auditorium goes empty quickly. Everyone is probably outside acquainting themselves, she thinks to herself.
She hears a loud engine roaring with increasingly louder revs coming close.
A scream. Five screams. A siren of screams.
One gunshot. Two gunshots. A revolving barrel of shots.
The air is frenzied. She reflexively crouches under her seat and curls herself into a tiny ball – enough not to be seen from afar.
More shots are let out. She trembles and breathes heavily.
The loud engine revs up and after a long while fades into the distance.
Her eyes are closed but she feels as though she is seeing the scene outside. She’s numb. Sweaty. Her heart pumping with a thud against her chest. She stays curled up under the seat. She can feel her pulse on her earlobes. Her breath is stifled in her chest. She can’t move.
Time seems to blur as the voices of people rise slowly outside. They sound like echoes to her ears. Distant and distorted. Thirty minutes, or what seems to be close to thirty minutes, pass. Her bladder is full. The voices outside have now been coupled to ambulance sirens.
She unfurls and almost feels her bladder letting out. She rises to her feet slowly but almost falls. She’s in shock. She moves towards the auditorium door, the light filtering through the outside facing windows almost blinding her.
Red paints the concrete ground under her feet. Pools of slowly coagulating blood. Eyes on limp bodies stare blankly. Bodies that were clapping their hands just an hour prior. Faces on them filled with emotion – the smiles that she liked, gone.
Then she sees him – Boy Blue, sprawled on the concrete, one arm trying to cover his chest. His blue beanie is half soaked in blood. His eyes staring into nothing.
She feels a warm wetting feeling. A fast stream of hot liquid cascades down her inner thigh.