Smoke Break Outside a Hip-Hop Nightclub in Australia
Displaced from the throbbing, blustering melody,
we sat outside as you finished your cigarette.
Or perhaps we stood. Or stooped. I don’t remember.
It was dark, except for your spark. I, the moth.
Or perhaps I, the flame. It’s all relative and subjective.
Our vibe, the only objective syncopated groove.
The crisp midnight air contrasted with the
heat generated by our dance-grind inside.
That’s actually a lie, or perhaps a half-truth; I
don’t recall if the outdoor air was cool or not, my
Fahrenheit or your Celsius. Too many or too few
degrees, synching with you put me 180-out.
Time-shifting was never my strength, much
like socializing, or adhering to social norms.
Both loner and lonely, even among family and
shipmates, but alone here with you, I’m content.
Time well-spent sizing each other up, taking measure
within melodic measures in timeless movements.
Our conversation flowed easily and deliberate;
each pause with purpose, each query also an invite.
We rode beats and straddled bars, improvising, learning,
changing tempo on the fly, milking fleeting moments.
A riffing jazz duet, bubbled by kindred hearts, momentarily
forgetting the raw sting of overcrowded loneliness.
I pretended not to be bothered by the smoke as you
pretended not to notice, shooing it from our session.
I casually took the butt from your lips, pressed it to
mine and inhaled your toxins with unforeseen confidence.
My urgent thirst to share your poison shocked us
for a moment. You smirked as I tried to suppress a cough.
“So, do you have someone waiting for you back
on the other side of the world?” I think you knew.
“I do,” I answered honestly, casually, returning your
cig. You casually discarded it. “That’s nice,”
you offered, unconvincingly. “Are you both happy
together?” you asked, eyes questing for deception.
“We are,” I lied, probably unconvincingly, to
both you and me. You didn’t press. “That’s good.”
I guess we must’ve been stooping, because I now
recall that you stood after that, and I after you.
You smiled warmly and I braced for you popping our
harmonic bubble with a conciliatory parting handshake.
“It’s good to find someone who makes you happy,”
you said, as if that’s a thing no one else knew.
“I just have one more question for you, sailor-boy.”
You squared-up to me, smile slowly fading.
“Oh? And what is that?” I think my tone was
still flirty-neutral, but I half expected you to
chew me out for teasing you or leading you on.
But I was still milking our moment for all I could.
When lonely folks like us find kindred spirits, it is
difficult to not find ourselves trapped in their orbits.
I knew it was socially inappropriate to indulge in
you, but with you I felt free to be me authentically.
I wasn’t teasing; I was connecting. Nothing would
come of this, but it felt real. I hoped you’d felt it too.
“I was just wondering if you would mind if I kissed you,”
you asked, closing the distance. “I hope you
don’t mind.” But you didn’t let me answer.
I think you already knew you didn’t need to.
Edited to share at Real Toad’s Tuesday Platform, hosted by Magaly Guerrero.