The fairy wings were a terrible idea. It seemed cute hours ago resting on the bed of her dorm room surrounded by potential outfits for the evening. But in practice, there, in a dimly lit bar far from the friends she had arrived with, those wings had become a beacon of bad tiding. Especially to the portly thirty-year-old man behind her being poked by the right wing. The left had taken on a shape closer to a collapsed dorsal fin. The band was good. So good. She bounced, and nodded, and gave zero fucks about how out of place she was in this crowd.
“The festival was last week, dipshit.”
“You lost? The 18-and-over clubs are 7 blocks west.”
“Fuck, are you sweating glitter?”
Not everyone was cruel. The man whose personal space she invaded with each staggering dance move was obviously annoyed, but not enough to stop her. Occasionally he’d brush the offensive appendage to the side and move slightly over on that packed floor to give her room while still allowing his vantage point of the stage.
Perhaps it was the elevating reverb off the speakers or the mean, hourglass-shaped retro whore that nearly knocked her over so she could shove her tits in the bassist face that started it? But the mass of bodies had gotten to her. She was going to vomit.
A young girl bulldozing through a large group of disaffected and pretentious bar patrons with one hand over her mouth should get people out of the way. Everyone’s outfit was so perfectly crafted to give the air that nobody gave a shit, how horrible would it be if some drunk undergrad ruined their $70 denim jacket? Yet they stood firm. Just enough nodding to show that they were enjoying themselves. But not too much. Their eyes only drifting to her to bear disapproval and then back to their friend’s to acknowledge their mutual disdain.
She cut in front of a long line to the women’s bathroom, hands were thrown up, shit was talked but nobody was going to force her out of the stall. An act like that could result in babysitting this wayward child. Where were her friends? There must be others? They roam in packs.
Safely evacuating what remained of her poorly chosen diet of nothing followed by shitty vodka and cranberry she sat on the toilet for a moment. Her dress dangling in the water below. Voices came and went. Shoes of every variety would become her neighbor for a minute or so before scuttling off. Sometimes there would be two or three pairs. She leaned her head against the toilet roll dispenser. Her eyes focused one the darkest graffiti on the door, “ezra j is a fucking Slut.” There was no deeper meaning to it, but there she was, focusing the last remaining bits of her sobriety at that sentence. Slut was capitalized. Nothing else. Life dimmed for a moment.
She was awakened by the sound of squeaking voices. A chorus of them. Her subconscious must have associated the pitch of these girls as the universal pitch of all groups of girls between the ages of 18-22.
“I said I didn’t want to leave that bar. Why are we even here? They charged a cover. I mean, hello, I’m a girl. I don’t pay cover.”
That nasty voice and firm sense of self-worth could only be Amanda, her roommate. She moaned softly in the stall. They, in turn, didn’t recognize her distress signal. One of them tried to push open the door.
“Oh shit, I’ve got to pee. Uggghhh.”
She couldn’t find her voice but she was elated that they had come back for her. Real friends. The best.
What she did not know is they did not come back for her. They came back because the guy Amanda had been mercilessly chasing all semester wanted to come here. And her friends followed because that’s what friends do, follow the loudest one to the kind of place she would hate the most.
Amanda did not know that the object of her desire and the roommate she secretly despised were hanging out two hours earlier at this very bar back when the fairy wings were still erect and worn properly on both shoulders.
Amanda did not know that they sat at the picnic tables out back and shared a joint. That he looked at her roommate not with the judgmental stares of an aging vinyl collector but as a horny 21-year-old college Junior who had been smitten with the glitter-covered darling since she sat next to him in English 1010. He’d pulled his hit a little longer, locking his eyes at her playfully. She would return the gaze by being bashful. Until the bar back who looked like a metal Martin Starr told them they couldn’t smoke back there. They got up to check out the opener and as her lead her inside, she stopped him in the nook of the entry. Their faces so close, that static before the first kiss, only broken by her need to use the bathroom. And then she was gone.
He waited. He lurked around. Trying to not to look as alone as he was. But time elapsed, and he began to feel foolish about how long he had been waiting. When he ran into Amanda, the strumpet immediately tried to get him to leave. Amanda acknowledged that he was reluctant to do so.
He even breathed her name, “Have you seen Savannah?”
She quickly dismissed the absent fairy and responded, “She’s probably already over there.”
Savannah cradled her head in her hands in that stall. Lurched over in a position familiar to the career drunk. The squeaking choir started to dwindle. Soon the last one’s heels tapped out of the bathroom. It echoed, the disgraceful walk of a child pretending to be an adult. Savannah had to go after them. She had to. She wasn’t sure exactly what neighborhood she was in. What bus would she take? The bars were soon to close. Even in this condition she knew she had to make it home. The witching hour was upon her. Once the bars close the real wolves show themselves and a nearly comatose girl wearing a costume in the middle of Spring was bound to become prey.
Savannah, doing what should’ve been done hours ago, wrestled the wings off of her. It was a more complicated task than she had expected. Soon the wings were discarded in trash. Bent, almost a form of art unto itself. The metamorphosis back into sobriety. The shedding of whimsy. Discarded innocence.
She placed both hands firmly on the sides of the sink. She took a deep breath before looking at herself in the mirror. It didn’t look good. Her eye makeup had smeared. Her lipstick had formed a ring around her mouth. Then she remembered her mouth and rinsed it. And her eyes. And then most of the glitter off her arms. The screams of last call were being bellowed.
The empty bar was not the place it was when she left it. Angry men slung industrial trash bags over their shoulders. They wound cords. They pushed her aside with yellow buckets of disinfectant. A large man motioned for her to come close and then told her to get out.
She was now outside with a horde of other bleary-eyed misfits. She looked up and down the street to find anyone that seemed familiar. She then realized that they were not worried about her. That they did not come back to find her. That they were total assholes that she would never speak to again. As she attempted to construct a contingency plan the portly man her wings had assaulted earlier pulled up in an oversized moped. Perhaps it was luck, or pity, or even a cause of concern, but he opened the sunshield of his helmet and asked, “Hey, do you need a ride?”
The mystery of how she was able to hang onto his love-handles and stay on the bike the entire ride remained so. Even after he decided, in both their interest, to stop at a 24-hour diner before dropping her off. They sat in near silence across from each other. He tapped his coffee mug nervously while she hovered in her seat as though a slight breeze was lovingly pushing her in circular motions. He’d stare at her while she stared at her place setting. Then to the sugars. Then to her water. She placed her head on the table. Just long enough to feel the smooth, cool surface become warm. Until the waitress purposely dropped her plate of pancakes off centimeters away from her pursed lips.
“Need anything else?”
Her urban night requested a bottle of Tapatio. He carefully tipped the eggs onto his toast and liberally applied the sauce. Savannah sloppily tried to smear the whipped margarine on her short stack but the task soon became too much of a chore. She picked up an entire dry cake and took about half of it into her mouth before choking slightly. She then tipped a glass of water to her mouth managing to allow half of the drink to flow down her neck. The sight of this became depressing for her date. He reached over and took the plate from her, carefully buttering the pancakes then cutting them into bit sized pieces. As a finishing touch he drizzled a proper amount of syrup on them and then waived the waitress down to get Savannah a cup of coffee.
Despite her need to be anywhere but in a public place, Savannah looked at her captor with warmth. If she could manage a sentence lucid enough to describe gratitude she would of blurted it out. Instead, when he slid the child her plate, she rested her hand on top of his and smiled. A symbol she hopped would solidify their bond beyond stranger and dependent. Instead gave him a half-erection. This depressed him more.
He did manage to get an address from her and soon, dawn looming in the air, she finally had made it home. She dismounted the scooter and straightened her dress. She handed her hero his helmet. They hung in each other’s company for one awkward minute before she gave him a kiss on his receding hairline and headed towards the main entrance. He watched her walk away. They did not exchange information. Not even names. He’d never see her again but he would think of her every time he’d enter that restaurant. And she’d think about him never.