The tentacles of their gaze wrap around me. I look away to escape the entanglement. My thoughts are reluctant to turn with my head: they are transfixed on the motioning masses. Huddled in clusters, they divide themselves evenly throughout the room. Every so often bodies will detach and absorb into another cluster, near or far, like a firing neuron. They maintain a hum, a gentle hum, a hum that cackles and keeps the insipid look in their eyes alive. They pour more of the intoxicant down their throats, trying to consume it with coolness, not realizing it is them being consumed.
I avoid their eyes. I don’t want to stir their mind. I want to see them as they are: complacent automatons molded and shaped by self fulfilling events. A glint of metal whirrs above me and a cool malted fragrance mists the air and settles on my brow. It smacks against the wall with an empty crack. Deep cheer and laughter erupt from one of the clusters. A boy stands with his spine erect, like a conquering hero; a rapacious smile hangs on his face as glistening liquid drips off his lips and soaks into his curling facial hair. I watch as their dull eyes reflect admiration, but I cannot make out their praises. I examine the once whirring metal, now motionless on the ground: an empty beer can. A hole punctured in its lower quarter. Shot-gunning.
I force myself to look around. My eyes return. I do my best to maintain casual eye contact. Do they see the fear in me? Are they afraid it is I that sees the fear in them? I want to be alone, but I stay. I have roles to fulfill; people to please. I pull a smile across my face. I feel my lips tighten and mimic the expression of a voluptuary. I tell myself I am pleased. I continue to scan the room. Make eye contact. My lust admires the youthful figures shifting in front of me: Boys and girls, courting one another with self-conscious precision. They have practiced this routine, this dance, these gestures: The alluring batting eyes; the coy retreats that indicate bashful vulnerability. They beg to be swooned. To be noticed. They don’t want to be taken a fool. They are ready to play this game.
The boys stand tall, proud, chests out, chin erect, like adolescent steeds. Their loud gestures fill the room, sweeping motions, legs spread, trying their best to dominate as much space as possible.