I watch until she sees me, then lean into her space. Seems like dancing, I tell her. Looking out but not quite up, she leers through her bangs like a stakeout cliche. Finally weary, she acknowledges me, occupant with reticence. ‘Sorry?’ Don’t be, I say, smoothing the bar with my hands. ‘I don’t understand.’ But she looks too bored to be confused. It was like you were dancing, before, when you serve. ‘It’s a mechanical proposition,’ she says. ‘Any elegance is only a product of efficiency.’ When she takes me home, I know it’s not personal. I don’t care.
Under the mask she smiles. The guests natter around her, crowding the apartment and making sounds like summer crickets. Their mingling measured, scene but not herd. Brazen gestures shade furtive glances under idle lighting hiding busy hands. Dust addled speakers push a slow Miles Davis around the room with the grace of potato mash through a tin colander. Dignity disguised, she moves to its strains, her dress flowing around her as she sways and twists, roses in the fold of clouds dancing to the missing notes of an unheard melody. Her feet remember the way, she lets them be.