She didn’t think it was and frowned. But it was too early to be drunk and Mimi and Sam were being a little condescending she thought, because for all their talk of a long projected life, it seemed they weren’t considering her own feelings, which were infused with this sense that she was perishable and decaying, not unhappily, but nevertheless. Theirs’ seemed misplaced aspirations, and should be reduced to at least one-half of the present, maybe even a third. Sam’s face was sort of subtle, tobacco dyed even round his eyes, fingers back-bent to the first joint, and there was something off despite his openness and looking far from odd. And when the party began to grow she watched his large-eyed little animal face as it lushed out on one, two, three quickly downed red wines. She couldn’t hear anything he was saying although it seemed a trifle impatient and his hand gestures a speciality. She knew most people there, and soon the room was crammed with the usual monkey games plus the overarching spirit that was the reason for them to be there, which swayed them to the music that was at first flirty and cagey but soon crested like a bone at the back of all their jiggly heads.
‘I’m not in that line now,’ she thought. But she actually said it out.
‘Ok,’ answered Yves, a young guy, who had a face she took in instalments and which eventually, over the time it took, powerfully resembled another guy she knew from the same neighbourhood, a little weavy and punchy, with bids and shots of tequila and salt alongside a deep voice of suspicious kindness, and she knew he was a charm-pusher with a business plan and a robber's sense of value, so his worldliness was a deeply misleading appearance, his throat all creased and him only half-shaved as was the way, a broke character in many respects, and not just financially, and one of those who tend to wait around and scatter compliments until one sticks with whosoever was too weak, which wasn’t what she had in mind nor was it really, she felt, a joke but had a sinister side.
‘Well you’ve heard it all,’ she finished.
‘What do you do?’ he continued in the throng that filled up. The room was a nice swingy crowd of hipsters and the kind who mostly looked far away and weren’t there to be understood but to radiate a scene. Amongst them, to pick out at random, was a dancer whose limbs were all intellectuals, and a longish haired man of about sixty who did poetry and painted, but in a cobbled way, and several whose looks were severe and inward, and the taller men were all smiles and impatient to please from their commanding heights, with extravagant boots or belts or bracelets, one of whom rented out horses, another sailed for a millionaire crew, one the grandchild of a famous African explorer whose curious amusement didn’t touch her. She tried to listen in on a couple who were talking, a thin boyish looker whose peculiar hands were black, thick and dead-appearing like the instep, she imagined , of his own foot, and they were talking, or at least, he was, about Polish exile and Nigeria as the emerging superpower of the coming century and how compromising this was, given that although he thought it about time Africa had a superpower, he opposed the superpower idea in a quivering depth of promenading virtue that quite captured the heart if you heard it.
‘What do you do?’ Yves repeated with a kind of subtle insistence that sounded more like she had wronged him somehow and he deserved better. So she sighed and fed herself a potato chip and swallowed some wine and turned her head so that her eyes went straight to his.
‘I’m working on my thesis.’
‘You’re a University bod?’ His smile had all the cold calculation of a committee.
‘Why yes,’ she grinned and felt some silky inner energy put its head on her breast, as if there were actions that really did set you free.
‘What’s your subject?’
She imagined him imagining that he was in the great world and not without kindness, which was only partly true, but he was working himself up into a resemblance of it, which to him was a matter of sorrow and tight jeans. It's often enough. Plus his formidable arms and cheeks that made him every inch a sportsman with a broken heart and a dash of inner silence and depths that would be amazing if you could break through the terror of his sadness. She looked out across the room, knowing exactly what she made of him and wondering if there was an escape route amongst so many going for broke characters, the whole cortege so to speak, but the savage bulges round his mouth clenched up, and his afflicted silence, waiting for her reply, was like an eagle, moments before braced on her arm, now gliding up above the ground, seeking in its deadly hunter eye the bones of death, the flappy humiliation and iron prickles of what he took as eros.
The dancers now looked like pure writhers, and their hair shook like ancient membranes in the hot air, and the coloured lights tore off and changed like magnificent flowers or menacing strange snakes, and you really had no idea what anyone was saying because the music overwhelmed it all like ingenious kindling. She rolled a toke and drank more wine to get herself closer to something darker and cooler. Her features were rising from her surfaces, full of sense and if anyone had seen this they’d inevitably have been envious, even the couple of actresses in the crowd who were out living their childhood dreams with gusto feeling all glossy and interfered with by love.
‘It’s nearly done. But it’s hard,’ she said.
‘What’s it about?’
‘Oh, now if I knew that.’ As if it was a joke and she made a strange sound half between laughter and a whipping bandana, the noise of finding out what the price is of being in nature without tenure.
Read the complete novel 'The Ecstatic Silence' here.