rating: +15+x

Dance. Dance to music under lights that glare and blind. Dance to too-loud strings, too-high violins that screech and penetrate the brain. Faster, faster! Dance a quickstep with your partner, dance with burning swollen reddening feet like the floor is made of the sun. Dance on a school gym floor in a too-hot stuffy room reeking through the wind of the dance and your carnival mask of socks and sweat, wonder if the rank odour is you. Turn your head, sniff discreetly, dance! No time for humility. Grab, hold, spin your partner under those dizzying lights, faster, faster, faster! The instruments wail, the musicians sway and topple, the ones who stand play with faces blanched white with fingers slippery red. No time for agony. Dance, dance, faster, faster! Spin! Spin and tap your burning feet, slap your thighs as a roomful, slap slap slap! like a smattering of applause. Sway under lights that leave spots as bullet-holes in your eyes, stagger forward with a chest too tight, fuzzy heat enveloping your skin as a caress. Relish in the lazy wind of the too-quick footwork, everyone bounces forward, back. Lines, now! Take hands, slip in your dance shoes with your bare feet, stumble and nearly tumble to the floor. The line pulls you up; your hands are interlaced with those around you, you are one entity, breathing the same air with the same lungs, hot and thick in your chest like soup. You are pulled up, find your feet, pull forward as a snake, pull back as a wave.

Forward, back, as a line, you are a tide, sliding in your shoes. The break is over — pivot, allemande! Grasp your partner, stare into their bleary, too-wide eyes and the room spins, hold yourself up with weight on their open palm against yours as you twirl, spin! Almost turn too far, slide in your shoes, hear the thrumming of a guitar through the flesh of your chest, grasp your partner and send them off in a courtesy turn. Hold the hands of your new partner, bounce forward, bounce back in greeting, spin! Spin, spin, spin faster, hit your feet to the floor like a drumbeat with the shriek of the violin, faster- no, slower! Your partner is an old man, he holds your shoulder with too-strong fingers, bruising your muscle down to bone, digging in and it hurts, he is looking to your face, your sweat, drowning face hot and muggy with your own steam, pleading with pained tears, he is pleading, begging for you to slow, his legs are frail and stiff. But you are young, your joints will hurt in a mirror of his now but on the morrow, not this minute, not today, and there are no consequences in the minutiae of the dance, so spin! Speed up, faster with the swell of the music, ride the blinding lights of the cathedral-school church on that greasy wax floor! Spin your staggering partner across the line, join with your neighbour, bounce, greet, allemande, and feel something pop in your leg, in your spine and ribs, feel a fever-heat of rising blood gorge up in you, feverish. Now, spin, hear the music slide, and slip in your shoes, glide sideways on the floor with blisters popping on your soles like bubbles on packing wrap, changing the landscape of your feet like dunes. Try to use the slide, abuse your skin to continue the dance, you can hear the end of the song and it is so close.

Hold your partner close, feel their breath hot on your intake of air in your lungs like radiation. Slide with blood on your soles and fever in your chest. You are not enough, you are heavy, your head lolls, limp. Your arms, weak, slip and fall from the allemande, a hug then and a loose trailing now, fall backward. Slip and slide in your shoes like a dancer off the edge of an unmarked stage. Turn on your way down, twist — flare of light in your ankle, agonizing and brittle, pop on the way down, and your skin, your muscle, fail: your heavy head thumps to the floor like the aftermath of a decapitation. Gaze listlessly, feet still twitching, see stars, now, black at the edges of your vision and bursting purple in the beige-yellow fluorescence, what bruise of the hard waxed floor. Stare, drunken and fading, watch the blur of legs and staticky music reedy, feel your organs cooling corpselike. Your heart squishes — so soft — in your chest and you are not stepped on. Nobody calls for help. The dancers move, the lines rejoin, seamless to your disposition and unnoticing of your plight, you are stepped over but not on. You exhale lukewarm, a long, drawn-out deflation, and do not inhale.

The music wails.

I bludgeon thee with a run-on sentence!

Snapdragons wilt at the prospect of cannibalism, despite being a plant and therefore eating their own kind on the regular. A field of wildflowers and snapdragons is really just a screaming death pit.

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