by Anna Fernandes

You’re lost now, aren’t you, in this cavernous club and you can’t find your friends, so you’re small, suddenly sober and unarmoured under the stuttering shards of light.

The trick is to not look alone. And to not look like you’re looking. The trick is to push purposefully past the lads lads lads at the bar who are pretending they know you. Put your arms up in a boxer’s feint, duck under, slip between the bodies that circle, that press in, vibrating sour heat and the tang of wanting.

It’s dark enough to disappear, plunged into the riptide of the undulating dance floor. You submit to the pulses as they swim you away, your feet lifting off the sticky surface below. Like driftwood you are tossed, buffeted and deposited deeper in, to where the churning is, kindling nylon, crispy hair gel and body shimmer into fire. A thousand hearts in sync. Arms tangled in other arms. Ringed fingers caught up in long glossy curls, you are rubbed up against by buttoned shirts and stiff jeans. Here where the sound pounds and pummels like tropical rain, you are flicked, licked, kicked. Here the thud of bass thrums, a tremble in the back teeth, a wobble in the gut. It skims across the skin in a silken crackle.

You shout across centimetres to ask the way out. That’s when you feel the throb of the beat in the throat, thick and tender, your sounds swallowed by the soup. When you lean in closer, your breath comes hot on their cheek, your voice tinny, high and thin. They point and so you go. A stiletto pierces your foot, your shoulder glances off a searing cigarette, you arch when a drink spills down your spine. All while searching strobed faces euphoric in green, yellow, blinding white.

They find you, wreathed in a choke of powdery smoke. They are wild eyed with joy and sweat-melted make up, and you’re free because you are found.

Anna Fernandes lives near Bristol, England with her young family. In her writing she hopes to explore the crushing expectations placed on women and mothers in a stretched and patriarchal society. Anna has had works of flash fiction published in Birch Bark MicroLit Almanac and Roi Fainéant.