“We’re having a great time.” They might be; they are sinking into a whirlpool. The party’s going great.
“I believe you,” says a tall girl. She’s wearing a loose top with the sleeves torn off. The sinkers nod and are purple. They can’t grab the lifeline thrown at them: they’re holding a drink and are dancing with one arm in the air. Everyone else is surrounding the pool, posing like a mannequin. Someone is shining a purple spotlight on the two in the middle. A sad boy is swirling his whiskey-coke and decides that the sloshing liquid and ice cubes look exactly like the two dancers. Like a binary star sucked into a black hole.
He’s a quiet sort, probably a poet. He wears gloves and has wet hair. The tall girl slowly pulls in the lifeline. The whirlpool isn’t part of the party but everyone pretends it is, except for her and the boy. They’ve both seen things like this happen before; it doesn’t really faze them. The tall girl heads back into the house before she is seen and hides in the bathroom, and begins washing her face. The sad boy is already there, doing the same. “Hey, long time no see.”
“So, what do you think of the party?”
“I’m not having a great time. I want to leave.”
“Yeah. We should go.”
The tall girl twirls out of her bedroom and he follows suit, into the ballroom. It’s tiled with marble and filled with mannequins, adorned with ribbons and corsets and wigs and pocket watches. From the ceiling hangs a chandelier, snowing flakes of purple light on two dancers rotating in place underneath. The tall girl hikes up the skirt of her ridiculous dress and runs past them. She is detected, and chased. Everyone wants her to stay. Craving hands grab her arms.
The two dancers turn, but not in dance. “You must stay, the future is uncertain.” Her sleeves, goldleaf currents running up and down the seams, are torn off and she escapes a little farther. She bumps into a sad, smiling boy, a quiet sort. Probably a poet. He extends his hands, covered by white linen gloves, ending in the frilly entrance of the sleeve of his blouse. “Hey, long time no see.”
“Thanks for showing up. Everyone wants to keep me here. I want to leave.”
“Must be nice. We should go.”
It’s night when it happens. Screams under a starry, stormy sky. The arms of the universe approach and beckon him into a hug, but slap him at the last second. The boy feels like he is spun – atomically, existentially. He spins and rolls out of bed. Waves crashing against the boat shake him awake like a concerned parent (he doesn’t know what that would be like). Saltwater wails on an open sea. On deck, he sees what he’s wanted to forget. Through the clouds, the moon beams purple on two people, brothers, spinning not in dance or in a glass, but in a whirlpool.
He throws a rope at them. His first brother is already gone, somehow fallen asleep. The other is holding him up and failing. His free hand clasps the rope. The boy pulls as hard as he can, his ungloved hands scorching despite heavy rainfall. He cannot have them. Her pleas send water over him, his hair wet with panic and tears. Time passes, sound stops. ‘Silence from a knife that softly severs, mistaken for an unsung prayer,’ is all he can think. He’s always had a knack for poetry. A tall girl puts a hand on his shoulder and slowly pulls in the rope.
“I wanted to save them, but my arms got tired.”
“They can’t be saved. Your hands look bad.”
“This will stick with me forever.”
“Let’s stick together forever, then.”
“Yeah. We should go.”