This is a little study for one of the characters in the short film I’m prepping to shoot in a little over a month. Sometimes, the world also needs to seem like a brighter place.
Rach hobbles down the street, alone on bare feet. The cocktail buzz is slowly starting to wear off, punctured by the cool early morning air. Ahead the gleaming vacancy light of a taxi, shimmering and attractive. She walks past it, carries on into the streets ahead, her mind a few steps ahead, her body fumbling to catch up. For now, she needs to keep walking.
Her phone rumbles somewhere in her pocket, but she ignores it. Too late for that. She’s gone now, disappeared out of the bar and ventured into the world. She probably should have said goodbye, but that would have meant offers of a lift and suggestions of a split ride and winks of knowing acknowledgement, and ain’t nobody got time for that on the first few bleary-eyed hours of their birthday.
Instead, Rach winds her way to a small park up the road, and sits on a lonely bench in the dark. Pulls a joint out of her bag – the best birthday present she received, by a considerable stretch – and goes to light it. The lighter strikes impotently, fails to spark. Fucking typical.
Across the street, coming from the strip of bars and clubs that still faintly throb a few hundred metres away, a young couple stumbles past. Rach watches them. A coiffed-haired man, shirtless, drums rapidly on his flabby stomach. Thump thump thump thumpity thump. The beat goes on, blissfully unaware of his girlfriend wobbling through zig zags behind him. She’s muttering something, muttering loudly, but he can’t hear her over the dope beats he’s smashing out on his love handles.
Rach looks at her joint.
“Hey! Hey, dude, hey!”
No response. Rach stands from her bench, and yells unashamedly across the wide street.
“Dude, you got a light?”
Somehow, the couple don’t even hear her. They continue stumbling into the rest of the lives, beat by out of time beat. The girl, though, does stop her muttering. Instead, she rolls up her tight, low cut singlet, and starts drumming on her stomach as well.
Rach watches, perplexed, as the two drummers roll on down the street, whacking their stomachs red in single file. Seemingly independent of one another. Definitely not in sync.
Rach curses young love, and sits back down on the bench with a useless doobie and a decaying blood-alcohol level.
She wonders about how she’ll get home. Wonders if she should have left the party earlier. Wonders why Jack kept touching her shoulder. Wonders where Connor was. Wonders why she’s wondering about that. Wonders if any of it means anything. Wonders if she should take up drumming. Wonders if those two will try to have sex when they get where they’re going, and wonders how badly it will go. Wonders how much better things would seem if she was high right now.
Wonders if, somewhere, at some point in her now 28 years, there was a better choice she could have made.
She leans back into the seat, feels the cool wood on her shoulders. Tries desperately to lick the taste of beer off of her teeth.
“What a fucken fuck up, hey?”
Rach speaks to nobody. Lets her wonderings wander further around her head but tries not pursue any of them. Pursues one thought too far, but shakes it off. Shakes it out of her shuddering shoulders and looks up the street, after the little drunken drummers that could.
They’re fifty metres up the road from the park, lying on the footpath, dry-humping. It’s a frankly beautiful sight. Like the flaccid flapping of beached manta rays desperately seeking the ocean.
Rach vomits slightly in her mouth. Maybe it was just a burp. She can’t be sure.
She puts her joint away, and clasps her hands on her knees. Sighs deeply, loudly, lets sound burn out of her.
Happy fucking birthday.
She looks at her grimy toes, black from the walk, and sees a flicker of light catch on them. Looks around, and notices orange begin to invade the blue. The sun is rising, and she is alone in a park with her shoes hanging from her belt.
Rach spends several minutes watching the light creep over everything. Wrap its way around surfaces, ease away shadows. Birds get louder as the last taxis melt away and the deep banging of the clubs finally fades.
In the park, a possum slowly treks across the grass, sniffing everything, making its way back to a tree. It climbs, slowly, and disappears amongst the foliage.
Above, the last stars disappear from the brightening sky, and Rach imagines a glimmer streaking across, bright and long, over the horizon. She breathes in deep, and feels very sober. Clear and precise.
She pulls one of her feet up onto her knees, and rubs the sole, ignoring the dirt and filth that comes off onto her fingers. She takes in the sound and the light and the cold air and smiles.
For now, she’s glad to be alone.
It’s been a good night. The morning is here, and everything is fine.
Words copyright Matt Vesely. Image copyright David Keen.