stars of the lid – and their refinement of the decline

In the quietest corner of the longest room a man is waiting for all of this to blow over. He slumps in a plastic chair, his head resting on the palm of his right hand, his right arm propped up by his left hand., his left arm resting across his stomach.

If you watched him long enough you would see him blink, and if you were to watch for even longer eventually you would notice the slight swell of his chest as he takes slow, shallow breaths. Before all this happened someone stood staring back at him and wondered if he was part of the exhibition, Someone said he must have had a hard life. Someone saw themselves between the myriad creases that line his face, saw a future they know they can’t avoid.

But that was then, and now he watches in slow motion as the fight breaks out, as the guests turn savage. The air fills at first with frantic shouting that ripples out from the first punch, sweeps up the others as they take notice and summons them to amplify the noise. He watches the heads turn and the flecks of canapés and spit that spray from their mouths, a gradual mist that descends across the battlefield.

There is poetry in the flailing arms, the loops of fabric and straps of handbags that cross one another, tie themselves in knots and gracefully fall apart again. Someone swings a bright red satchel in an overhead arc and the contents fall like confetti above the melee. Designer drugs and prescription drugs, sachets of sauce and a nest of hairbands. He watches their descent and destruction, as they fall to the floor and are trampled underfoot.

He watches as the white of the dresses and the blacks of the suits begin to lose their definition, as the debris and the damage coat everything in the same jumbled mess of colour. At first the clothes shine with a brilliant blood red, but before long this fades and turns sour.

Underneath it all a champagne bottle falls and spins as though caught on a pinwheel, drenching heels and covering the already sleek wooden floor. The spotlights above find new life below, glinting among the liquid as it spreads steadily outward, reaching for the corners of the room.

The man watches as the scene loses definition, all of the elements collapsing in on one another. He blinks once more, slowly, heavily, as though capturing the moment in the shutter of a camera.

He lifts his head, straightens his arms. And he leaves.

© 2020 Sam Draper All Rights Reserved