Sound of Silence
Sink or swim, just stay true to yourself.
The sound of the music grated against her nerves. Harsh, high-pitched laughter and chatter reaching screeching, painful heights as the party ebbed and flowed around her. A sense of propriety, of duty, of some distant obligation called ‘friendship’ had made her come but now she was adrift and lost. An unmoored ship floundering in a sea of unfamiliar faces and sounds.
You should get out more. Every stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.
So, maybe her father was right. And he certainly seemed to have no trouble, would have fitted right into this scene despite his beard and wrinkles and the paunch that strained the buttons on his shirt. But maybe he was wrong, too, both at the same time. After all, you wouldn’t throw a chicken into a pond and expect it to swim, for all it bore certain similarities to a duck. Unless you were playing ‘The Legend of Zelda’; everyone knew Cuccos were indestructible.
The bass pounded up through her feet and she wished her heart was beating in time to it. At least there would be a rhythm, not this panicky stuttering hammering that felt like it might break her ribs. She was a chicken amidst the ducks, drowning and no-one noticed. The pond, glittering lights and a DJ screaming out beats.
Even the toilets were crowded, gaggles of girls nattering and applying make-up with the careful, methodical precision of the very drunk. Tears were just an invitation to swarm and comfort, and the press of bodies only made the tears flow faster. Too long in a cubicle and people wanted to get in. She faded into the corners of the room, but the sound reached fingers everywhere, spread like water filling the Titanic’s hold and she kept on drowning.
Just go; you’ll enjoy yourself once you’re there. Have fun!
Elbows and bodies jostled her, sticky drinks sloshing onto the floor. Her drink, her fourth, empty and clutched in shaking fingers. She tried to talk herself up, in the privacy of her own head, but still felt more like a paper umbrella than a cocktail. Cute, but not the reason you buy the drink. The taste wouldn’t change without her, the party would go on, and she would be unnoticed in her absence.
You’re wonderful. Just be yourself.
Her chicken-soul gave up and she slunk towards the doorway. Laughing people paid her no notice as she squeezed between them, but she felt their eyes on her back after she passed. Her mouth was dry and wanted water, or maybe another drink would fix her, maybe one more, but the bar was far away and in the wrong direction. Her shaking hand reached for the doorknob and alarms failed to blare. No-one called out, no-one pointed and laughed as the chicken slipped out of the party.
Heels clacking on the sidewalk, she let the door swing shut of its own accord and wandered over to the park. The noise from the club faded to a dull throb, and in the cool night air it could have just been the sound of her heartbeat. A car swooshed past. Perching on the wooden bench, she raised her head and straightened her back - no longer borne down by the crushing pressure of other people, of expectation and the pulse of the music. Lifting her face to the sky, she watched the washed out stars twinkle valiantly through the city’s ever-present glow and reveled in the sound of silence.