Amelia Schmidt

It could have been any party

It could have been any party, really, but it was this one and we were going to go to it, not for any reason in particular but because it was a Saturday and there was a party. And we were going. With beer. It doesn’t really matter who we are, we’re just some people going to a party, any party really, we weren’t together for any reason, just that we were all going to the same party.

It was any night, too. Just some night and some purple-black blanket of a sky with smoky clouds wafting across it. No stars. We weren’t looking at it anyway, too busy with our half-drunk banter as we wandered through suburbia with our beer. Anonymous families cast flickering shadows from the buzzing television screens that we caught glimpses of as we sauntered past their front windows on our way to this house, wherever it was – not far, at least.

It was a familiar walk – the city doesn’t excite us anymore. You become so complacent about the place where you live. It’s just some place. Who cares about the dew on the leaves and the sounds of someone playing the violin and the way the trees shake their dew off when the trains go past. It’s a road and it was taking us to a party, and that’s all that we noticed.

It wasn’t long before we were there, at this place, whoever we were, wherever it was. We’d had half the beer just on the walk but it didn’t matter, there was enough alcohol at this party without our contributions. Whatever music was playing was pretty good, nothing we hadn’t heard before but if it wasn’t on we’d have noticed. To be honest, it was a good party.

The girls were dancing in that way that girls dance where you realise that you’ve been watching them with a drink in your hand that you haven’t been drinking for a few minutes and you check yourself and try to walk away but your legs won’t work anymore. When their hips are drawing circles in the air that probably make the most beautiful patterns in all the world.

Down the side alley of this place some of these kids were dropping acid and punching cones, nothing new. They didn’t care but from where I was they looked amazing, all crumpled up in heaps against a dirty fallapart brick wall, bits and pieces of light spitting and flashing on them from cars going by and a flickering streetlight. All in this cloud of smoke, puffing out of their pursed-up pouts like ink in to water.

“Hey, you,” a girl yelled at me. I looked over at her and she walked up to me like a car crash. “Do you want to play strip spin the bottle with us?” I’d been looking at her all night but it was only at this moment that I started to see her, and her features somehow resolved themselves like a television coming in to focus finding the right station. I didn’t know who “us” were but they were probably no-one I knew anyway. If you know what I mean. I mumbled a yes of some kind and found myself following her in to a bedroom, an empty vodka bottle posed at the ready in the middle of the floor with about ten people lounging around it. They looked like a pride of lions.

It wasn’t just any party now. I could slowly feel everything feeling slightly more particular. I watched as moments passed by and became meaningful somehow in immediate retrospect. Perhaps they were becoming meaningful as I experienced them, as if the process of being inside of a moment was imbuing it with meaning. Who knows. I looked down to notice the slightly moving bottle aiming at me, and raised my eyes to meet the waiting gazes of the pride.

I kissed someone, took off my shoes. She kissed someone else, took off her cardigan. He kissed someone else, took off his shirt. She kissed someone else, wait, no, she kissed me, took off her stockings. Around and around. Outside, an unremarkable sky looked in through the windows with much curiosity.

We were drunk; time was going by at unusual rates. Fast and then slow, unevenly, however it fancied. We were undressing each other with cheering and laughing as stockings rolled around ankles and bra straps fell off rounded shoulders. Perhaps time was undressing us itself with long curled fingers. Who knew. Drunkenly, things were unremarkable again, a generic blur punctuated by more and more skin. And then only skin and a couple of dashes of lace. And then skin.

I was looking at her, or trying to. The girl who had brought me in. In a hazy blur she seemed to be watching me, and it seemed to me that the rest of the night was watching her. It’s funny how being nude makes everyone seem alike. All the other people, blank-faced and generic, lounged around her like animals, big pink and brown creatures.

The bottle spun to face her, as if of its own accord. She was already nude, and waves of laughter rippled away from her. She hadn’t stopped looking at me yet and neither was I able to look away. Our eyes were locked and we knew it – so when she started to take off her skin around her neck I could do nothing but keep returning her stare.

A few generic stars peered in through cracks in the roof and wondered how things had suddenly become so particular.

Reaching over her left shoulder with her right hand she peeled her skin downwards across her breasts and torso, slowly and without expression in her face. The skin came off smoothly, like the skin of a fruit. Smooth and red on the underside, it was occurring to me what was happening but all I could do was observe, detachedly, unable to grasp the sense of reality that the experience demanded. As it fell limply off her body, the skin’s underside showed itself to be a delicate red colour, wet and alive. Underneath, the beautiful red muscles and sinews glistened in the dim light.

I was at once disgusted and intrigued – it was clear that this was a normal thing for her, in a way. Her actions seemed somewhat rehearsed. Girls always have these party tricks that they pull out, and this was hers. Of course I couldn’t believe what was happening, but for all my disbelief I could do nothing but continue to look at her as she looked at me. Slowly but surely, she pulled the skin further down her body.

Around us, the others were talking amongst themselves, running their hands over each other’s backs and legs. For a moment we were savages, and she some savage goddess. Still sitting on the ground, she had pulled her skin down to the level of her hips and it lay around her like a skirt, soft and folded and impossible.

We could not stop looking at each other. I had never seen a girl anything like her ever before in my life. It was just any party on any street on any night under an unremarkable sky, and this girl had taken off her skin and looked in to my eyes. I could feel the sweat trickling down my naked back. She was sitting in front of me as a collection of anatomical parts, somehow still breathing, living, watching me.

Of course this was unusual but anything would have been unusual on such a normal night. We watched each other for a while still and eventually, the group began to depart, wandering off in to bedrooms or to the music. They began to dress themselves again, slowly searching for their underwear, socks and clothes, more drinks and places to collapse upon. The more clothing they put on, the harder it was to hold her gaze, and the more I started to feel the air on my skin reminding me of the benefits of clothes. And yet her eyes seemed to remind me that I couldn’t possibly be feeling the elements in the way that she was, more naked than any of us had ever been in our whole lives.

As I reached for my underwear and pants, she began to roll her skin up around over her hip bones, quicker than she took it off, her delicate fingers smoothing it out against herself like wrapping paper. For a moment, I looked away, busy pulling up my fly, and when I looked back she was doing up her bra. She slipped on her t-shirt and flipped her long hair out of the back of it. She smiled at me as she pulled up her jeans and walked barefoot in to the back yard.

After that it was just another night, full of kind of pretty girls and boys with cups full of anything they wanted. With her skin on, she looked just like everybody else, and after another drink I could barely remember her face. It’s funny how with skin and clothes everybody looks kind of the same. We walked home and I ambled behind with a sick feeling in my stomach. I counted the streetlights. Sixty three. I didn’t even think about the corners I turned.

Amelia Schmidt is a twenty year old Arts graduate living and working in Sydney, Australia. She likes the colour red, long animals and square photographs.

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