Song: “Moving Pictures, Silent Films” by Great Lakes Swimming from the self-made mix Mix-a-Lot (Not a Sir)
The party raged, bopped, and undulated around her. The stereo offered, in equal measure, 16 year olds trying to sound 22 and 40 year olds trying to sound 22. Regardless of their charade, each singer had to face and was slain by an overproductive subwoofer.
These were their classmates…or they seemed to be. But how could that be possible?
Years…no, decades more likely, had passed. Stuck in that tunnel, reading (worshipping) that book. How could they all still be alive, still be here, still be young?
She paused and, for the first time, wondered about herself. She ran her hands through her hair. It was short. Short like it was then…a pixie, she recalled. Jet black with shocks of pink, she guessed. Just as in the past. But…she felt it grow longer and heavier, over years. Moving from black to her natural chestnut to grey. Snarling and twisting as she read (absorbed) that tome, as it forced her to read on (as she begged for more and more).
And her skin. Soft. Smooth. She could feel the subtle weight of makeup on her face. Makeup. She didn’t even know if she could remember how to put makeup now, it had been so long. Or so she thought anyway.
A man, no, a boy, to her right giggled to his friend something about, “the way this girl’s touching herself now, you know she’s going to be topless by the end of the night.” His friend mumbled some term of agreement while giggling. She wheeled on him and stared. The duo, the talker and the laugher, blanched. They diverted their eyes and shook. “Oh, no…please, please, so sorry,” one of them moaned, clutching at himself as if he had been struck in the gut. The other friend dragged the seemingly injured one way, both so pale as to appear bloodless.
“Whoa, what was that?” someone else said behind her. She spun on her heels again, but… wait, she knew this one. Her roommate….so long…what was her name? B-something. Beth? Yes, Beth.
“Umm…just putting them in their place,” she replied, almost halted by the sound of her own voice. She hadn’t heard it in so long. Except when she’d sometimes read (chant) aloud. When she was somehow compelled (was pleased for the opportunity).
“I guess so,” Beth replied, a half-smirk purely disguising her concern, “Are you sure you’re ok?”
“Yes. Why? I mean, of course,” she hastily replied.
“I was screaming your name for like 10 minutes. It’s loud, but it’s not that loud. But you just stood here, like I don’t know what. You looked so scared and...scary.”
“Sorry,” she offered, blushing a bit, “I was distracted, I guess.”
“Yeah? Where did you go?”
“What do you mean? Do you know something? Because I’ve been so—”
“Just an expression, roomie, just an expression! Slow down.”
“Did something happen though, because, Viv, you don’t seem right. I mean, you look the same. You look great actually. I love your clothes today. But, every time I look at you—well it just seems off.”
Viv? Vivian? Oh god, she realized, stomach twisting and turning onto itself, she had forgotten her own name.
“Weird day, I guess,” she managed and searched for something appropriate, something that fit her back then…or now…or whenever this was or is.
“All the more reason to get drunk and make bad choices with that guy from my bio class, right?” she offered.
Beth smiled then, wider, “Now you sound like you. I think we can do better than bio guy who pretends he doesn’t know you in the caf the next day though.”
“But he’s fun!” Viv protested, playing her part. Herself but not.
“Come on!” Beth shouted as the bass kicked in harder. She laughed and yanked Viv along, twirling her.
Vivian tried to give herself over to the moment but all she could see where those tunnel walls, all she could hear was the scratching of rats and the trickle of water, her sustenance all those years, all she could feel (what she desperately wanted to feel again) was parchment and leather in her hand, seemingly warm and pulsing…almost alive.
Where had she been? And where was she now?