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by Graham Wynd

The night Billy died was the best of our lives but we couldn’t talk about it to anyone afterward. I guess that’s what held us together for a time. Nothing lasts forever. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. We’re all just ghosts under the skin.

I won’t tell you the band’s name. Everybody knows it now, but back then they were still ours. They hadn’t broke through. I know you think it’s just hipster snobbery, liking them before they were cool. I swear it’s not that. It was seeing them rise like angels. They had been just like us but then they took wing.

It was like magic. In the night they rose and we with them, higher than we’d ever been before. Billy and Davy and the others weren’t into them like Janey and me, but they got like a contact high from all the people who were dancing and slamming to the music. When it’s good like that, when it’s pure and real, the tunes vibrate through your body like orgasmic pulses.

The only thing I remember from science in Mr Clemons’ class: light is both a wave and a particle. Music must be, too. The way it moves through you and the way it hits you, too. When the band is really grooving and the amps are assaulting you like a shiatsu massage chair, you feel the particles. It’s physical. That’s why people get so hot at concerts. I mean hot as in turned on. Me and Janey dancing that night, it was almost better than sex because it went on for like almost three hours while they played and we all sweated on the floor. The tiles were slick with it.

But the wave that moves through you, it’s what makes you all feel like one great spirit together. That euphoria when a huge ballroom full of kids who never even met each other suddenly move as one to the beats. You’re not alone anymore. You’re never alone while the music plays.

And the singer twisting himself into knots to make you believe he’s your best friend, like he’s telling secrets only to you. That’s why we love him. And that woman playing guitar like she might be able to kill with it. Dead serious but also kind of euphoric looking, like you want to imagine you could one day be. Like don’t even start with the drummer: aces. That’s all.

It doesn’t last forever. It wouldn’t be good if it did. Hankering for it is part of the joy, it’s what brings you back. Look at the old dudes in the back, nodding along to the beat. They know what it is even if they won’t dance with the kids.

When you want it to last forever you end up like Billy. Too much of the dust, too pure, game over. Just dance, man. Just dance.

A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Publications include Satan’s Sorority from Number Thirteen Press and Extricate from Fox Spirit Books, as well as tales in the 2016 Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes. Wynd’s stories have been translated into German, Italian, Polish and Slovene. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here. Find Wynd on Facebook and Twitter.