He comes on, head bent at a forty-five degree angle. His hair cut like your Dad’s, on an off-day, it sticks out the back.

–Hi my name is [          ], it’s my birthday.

He’s forty-one and his song is nervous energy, shaking like the kid in the corner, the one with the glasses, who stuttered when he raised his hand. Nervous but he nails it, chest not puffed but proud. A tall, strong vine. Forty-one and old. Learned to stand on his own. Girls came and gone. Few handholds. Karaoke with his friends. Young in some ways, but look how far he’s come. A man, but young, and getting old.

The buzz distorts the room in a purple-orange glow. Right at the front. Room a kaleidoscope of colour and sound. Can’t feel the pale face you kiss, to your left. Lips somewhere else, fingers gone. Just head space and body home. Head moving in ways your sober self wouldn’t understand, miss this feeling, miss a pen. Tearing patterns into cardboard you rip out, Morse code. Prayer beads: this means this, this means this, this means that.

Unremarkable woman, someone you don’t know. At the front with her friends, each a song, each a voice into microphone. Splitting off from the group, peeling to the back, picking up APPLAUSE, raising it high and around. A different woman, changed energy, a different face. A look that makes the crowd roar, someone else, you didn’t see. Hope they brought, hope someone that knows—someone she knows but doesn’t know her, that came—hope someone who knows her in a different capacity, at work or shy, hope they brought someone who’s never seen, to see that.

Drink turned sour at the bar. Waiting while the buzz drops down. Don’t want it to end. Like the way it funnels the night into a thick beam, the beam that goes to your head, like the feeling you get. Ordering more, it won’t be the same. You know you’re done. Know you’re done, but you order more, you wait for it, you think your last buzz thoughts, you tap thoughts into cardboard, you remember what you hoped to write. Missing threads, now. Realise that you’re coming down, it’s not the same, something else you don’t know, you don’t know what.

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