by Laure Van Rensburg
Sometimes she dances in the dark. Barefoot on the threadbare carpet she picks up the vibrations from the music playing in the club downstairs, muffled Aretha, Donna and Whitney. She does it on the nights she can’t sleep, on the nights when the nightmares take too much space in her bed.
On the windowsill the row of Japanese bowls stand in the blinking light, silver and gold veins threaded between clay pieces holding them together making them whole while she sways to the tunes, hands resting on the soft spot below her navel where the steel toe-cap of his boots used to dig in, back when the marks on her body created a roadmap of his mood swings, until she shaved enough money from the weekly food allowance he gave her, until she fed him barbiturate-flavoured ice cream and stole his car, the boot full with his clothes and his vinyl collection before abandoning it all, keys in the ignition to be stolen or burned down.
She does it on the nights she doesn’t want to sleep, dances for the lost time, the thirteen months and twenty-seven days when she wasn’t brave enough, to teach her heart to drum from excitement instead of fear.
This time of night, it’s happy hour at the Pussy Cat Club. Despite the heavy insulation, good times bleed through, hitching a ride up her bones. Light from the neon sign paints the walls with a pink glow, turning her room into a womb she hides in. Downstairs, she imagines the army of waitresses dressed as ’50s pin-ups, wearing nipple tassels like badges of honour parading between tables with multi-colour cocktails balancing on silver trays. Soon she’ll sit down there with a frozen margarita and a new smile on her face.
She dances on the nights she’s learning herself again, tracing the lines of old scars with her fingers. Because in Japan a broken object is beautiful once it has been mended, proudly displaying its history in each break.
Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK. Her short stories have appeared in various publications and can also be found on her website laurevanrensburg.com. She has been longlisted for the 2018 and 2019 Bath Short Story Award and shortlisted for the 2019 Storgy Magazine Flash Fiction Competition. Twitter handle: @Laure0901. Website: laurevanrensburg.com.