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Whose Party

by Rose Lindsey


Nobody had invited the Harlequin to the party.

Bodies swayed, bodies dipped, in-rhythm to heavy beats that rattled glass. Bodies, bunched together on a condensed dancefloor, swathed by the blurring of rainbow lights in the dank, dark club – a manufactured bioluminescence. Faces aglow with the boldness of sex and booze, hands in hands, on hips, against poles and walls. It was a raucous party, a well-curated one, and nobody had invited the Harlequin.

Outside was not as warm or boisterous. Brisk winter air bit at bodies, goosebumps grimacing on bare arms. It was a bitter breeze that pushed at the Harlequin’s shoulders, though he continued on the uneven sidewalk. Below his mask, his lips were chapped. He clicked his tongue. He felt into his pockets, expectantly empty. He could feel the moon shimmering behind him, so insurmountably distant and yet so close. A calm, cool glow. Empty in comparison to the
club’s swathing, sweeping colors. In another step, he found himself outside the venue. The door swung – he was met by the heat of grinding and glamorous movements. He stepped inside. He was paused at the door for only a moment. The bouncer could not conjure anything to say.

The Harlequin trudged through the crowd. His attire covered him head-to-toe, frilly, full-bodied foolishness, with the ruffles at the neck, checker print across the chest. Sweat ran glossy across the exposed skin of the other attendants – short shirts, or lack thereof, the dress code. Even with the venue’s heat, the Harlequin continued in, squeezing through the throng in an attempt to reach the dancefloor. Bewildered looks were cast his way, and still he continued through. His eyes were not theirs, nor were his legs, his vision, his skin.

At last, he arrived at the dancefloor, where the euphoria of the alcohol and music infected the air most. Here he did not receive any looks, the dancers too entrenched in their worlds of erotic experience to take notice of him... until he brushed against them to worm through, the surprising feeling of silk against skin. Nearly all at once, the party paused, the floor clearing to behold the Harlequin as he positioned himself in the space’s middle. As though he were some idol brought to life, they stared at him, apprehensive. A performance of everything they were without.

His eyes settled on no one in particular, gaze cast somewhere near the horizon line, practically beyond the walls of the club. Building sneers and shouts seemed not to reach his ears as he planted his feet...

And then he danced.


Oh Lord, did he dance.


Untamed and unruly, arms abound and taking up every inch of space, did he dance! Tapping toes, kicking high, higher, dropping to floor, reaching to sky! On and on the Harlequin danced, as though inspirited by the motions – never once pausing, never casting a look to any of his onlookers. The crowd around him swelled and surged together, enclosing his short space, yelling angrily, encircling, screeching, and still the Harlequin, smacking fist against face, striking shins, on and on and on and on, head lifted towards heaven, loving breath, inhale, expel, dancing against the crush, dancing against the crumple, dancing, dancing, dancing, dance...

A stillness slowly overtook the space.

The club crowd dispersed, and there the Harlequin laid, flattened on the floor, back straightened. Bodies on body until he broke. The lights danced over him, illuminating his silly outfit in colors it was not meant to sport. His eyes finally settled, settled towards where the moon would be found, somewhere far, far beyond the roof. No longer a part of the party he had not been invited to, yet he had never been more of an attendant.

And then somebody stepped past his lifeless body, and the party continued, and all was well again.


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