Friday, June 24, 2011

Alone, Out of Love

Girl against the wall by Maxime Guilbot

We came here to have a really good time. Why, oh why does it always turn out like this?

I’m standing very close to the concert stage now, the bass is beating rhythmically through my body, the vocalist is making out with the microphone, and rainbow light effects dance overhead to the crushing applause of the crowd. It’s one of my first concerts, one of my favorite bands. Nissa and I have the same taste in music—bold, vibrant, cutting-edge—and you should have heard our squeals when we realized that we were actually going to see this group in concert.

Then Nissa said we had to take Brian along with us, and everything changed.

The hall erupts into piercing screams, the thudding of hundreds of pairs of feet, and I’m pummeled from every side by shrieking fans. But where are they? Where have they gone? I’m all alone by a concrete wall, all alone in a packed concert hall. Brian and Nissa are somewhere—but how on earth am I supposed to find them in this crush of bodies? Stubborn tears needle the corners of my eyes.

The way they were looking at each other in the car on the way over here. The way their hands were touching. It sent a shiver down my spine and I didn’t know why.
Jealousy? Distaste? Discomfort? I hardly know what it was but I can feel it now: a slimy dark monster filling me up from the inside and making me loathe the little sister I love and the boy she loves.  Why should their affection affect me like this? Why do I want to gag every time they kiss? Why do I feel waves of revulsion when I think of them touching each other? Is it because I want what they have? Is it because—to me—Nissa is still a girl playing with my makeup? She’s 17 now. Get a grip.

I shove myself away from the wall, angry now. They just went off and left me. They weren’t supposed to leave me. We’ll have to go soon if we don’t want to get stuck in traffic. I look around, straining my eyes in the purple darkness, fingering my car keys, thinking that maybe—no, it’s not her. I’m really alone.

Pushing through tattooed arms, pierced ears, short skirts, and long hair, I begin to hear a ringing in my ears. All the noise, no doubt. I can hardly hear myself think. Then it’s a turn to the left—past more bodies—down a short flight of stairs to haven of cool darkness. I’m choking down sobs, now. Where are they? Stumbling, nearly frantic, feeling completely miserable, I realize they’re nowhere to be found.

Surfacing into the chaos again, I work my way back up to the front, to my cold concrete wall, and lean against it, gasping. Nissa and I—so close, and now so far away. Blocked by some happiness I can’t understand, and don’t really want to. Brian—a fairly good-looking guy with nice manners; they’re perfect for each other, really.

Suddenly I catch a glimpse of Brian’s white shirt and eyeglasses reflecting the psychedelic light. I wrestle through to him, “Where did you go?! I’ve been searching all over for an hour!” He looks annoyed.

“Geesh, we didn’t go too far. What’s the big deal? Oh, please, don’t start crying.”
I turned around to face the music and began clapping in time with everybody else, bobbing my head, leaning from side to side, trying to get into the mood of the evening. Not feeling it. Trying to fight back emotion.

Then Nissa comes up from behind with one of her impulsive hugs. I all but shove her away and the tears finally spill over; I’m wiping and wiping and wiping my eyes, contorting my face into a miserable smile. The next time I look back both of them are gone.

All of a sudden, Brian and Nissa are right beside me—arms linked with mine—hauling me away from the pounding drums. I know it’s their way of trying to make up, but I shove them away. “Get away from me!”

“Please, we’re sorry for running away, please, listen to us. What’s wrong? Is there anything we can do?” Nissa’s looking so apologetic, so concerned, and Brian is biting his lip. They love me. They might love each other but…they love me too. They didn’t want to hurt me. They’re growing up. They love each other but they love me too. And before I know it I’m doing what I’ve been wanting to do all night long. Crying like I’ve never cried to anyone but Mom: as if my heart would break, wracked with sobs that shake me and make my legs weak. Suddenly Nissa is holding me tight against her, and Brian’s arms are around me too. They seem to understand, even if I don’t.

Photo Credit: Girl against the wall, a photo by Maxime Guilbot on Flickr.

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