short story

“Forever, for ever, or never”

The restroom was occupied.


So Margot danced to the center, where Gaspar and Linda were wrapped in a single embrace. When the couple noticed who was approaching, they made room.


“Happy birthday,” shouted Gaspar.


“You throw cool parties,” followed Linda.


Margot thanked the new couple, handing each a red solo cup. “Drink, feast.”


The light overhead widened. Red splashed on the wall, green crawled on the floor, and purples and blues spun in between. The entire acting troupe had made it out, Margot noted, as she scanned the room, leaving the couple to dance alone. The rugby team, one, two, three, four had made it, she thought, as she maneuvered to the snacks. Salty stuff, sweet stuff, and the cooler, she noted, was stocked. When she looked up, the caterer gave a thumbs up. He was a tall unaffected man with a nappy beard and gray eyes. Why Margot paid attention might have had something to do with the fact that no matter how much light and booze filled the room, the eyes of the man who brought the food would never change. Gray absorbs everything.


But then he blinked and his eye color changed.


She clenched her chest. She didn’t feel her new age.


In another corner of the living room turned dance hall, the actors began taking turns making out, with the precision and order of an exercise, two at a time, then passing the kiss clockwise in their circle.


Meanwhile, Linda and Gaspar synced their shoulder shimmies. The DJ kept an ear to them the whole night. He made sure the lovers stayed together. If they danced, he figured, then the whole party would keep at it. Whenever Gaspar looked up at the DJ, the fat, round, proud, funny looking, t-shirt wearing, sweat machine of a man would thumbs-up in return, spin another tune on his phone hooked up to the amplifier — to play disco retro beats, synth sounds drenched in cascades, V8 engines and arcades. With the couple as model, no one could but swing to the beat. A buffoon who had invited himself even let his ponytail loose and shook a champagne bottle open. Foam squirted from the tip of his hands. Happy people cheered.


The bathroom was still occupied, but now unlocked. So Margot recollected herself in there. Her hands felt the cold of the sink, then in the running of water, mascara running as she washed her face, brown eyes glimmering in the mirror like two wooden suns, her ears stung. It was that moment in the night when the host regrets throwing the party. The thought distracted her.


Inside, it turned out, in the bathtub, was her best friend from high school power-napping: Evelyn, vomit in her hair and hands deep in the pockets of her hoodie. For the length of a song, back when they had reunited earlier that night after a long time apart, neither could say the other’s name without blushing. A few many drinks later, they became comfortable. Margot, enough to express the pain of mistakenly inviting an ex; Evelyn, enough to let herself be over-served. This moment of regret in the bathroom, one of looking in the mirror, while your old best friend snores unconscious with her hands in her pockets, portrayed the inevitable result of their reunion.


Outside, the foam of the sparkling wine decked the floor tiles like the crash of a wave. More and more foam followed. A firecracker went off. It smelled like gunpowder and sore throat out there. No one stopped to pick up the snack plates and cups crushed or stuffed between cushions of the furniture, adding to the stench of dumpling sauce that permeated the sweat injected air of everybody’s good time. Linda did wiggle her nose as she darted side to side on her feet. The sensitivity of her olfactory gave her the nickname of Shark among her coworkers. Her name, when pronounced, made her flash her pearls. The only thing that would matter was the collective mayhem to ensue.


And the mayhem ensued with a spark, the thought that not a single detail or event in that night would last more than an instant. Not a beat, not a leap. Not a cup not a dance. Everything came to an end, even the night would end, just not yet. Even this birthday, Margot mused, and all other birthdays, too.


Yet, if nothing lasts forever, why then does any one problem feel like it never goes away? Stupid, stupid.


“What’s up?” a voice asked.


“I’m-so-fuck-ing-stu-pid,” Margot cawed, between choking sobs.


Evelyn sat up, wiping the remnants of drool and sauce from her lips. She remembered enough of her old best friend to wait for her to continue speaking.


“You already know.”


“I already know.”


It didn’t take long before Margot found her old best friend’s warm embrace, in the bathtub. Every time she cried, “It isn’t fair,” the knowing Evelyn squeezed even tighter.


“Fuck your ex,” she said.


“It isn’t that,” she sobbed.


“It will soon pass,” she said. “Whatever it is.”


The caterer and the DJ shuffled together, their feet tracing an infinite on the floor with the now crusted foam of an event, though recent, forever and ever ago past: untouchable, unsmellable, unwatchable.


And who gave a damn, whatever it was, whatever it is. Forever, for ever, or never. What’s the difference. Not exes or whys — not the passing of time — when what matters is always inside.


“I’m pregnant.”


“You too?”

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