An autopsy of time would expose midnight at this LA rave as a buildup of greedy seconds poisoned by impatience. I’ve often wondered what it’d be like to split my brain open, unravel my memories like noodles that’d squirm because I’d boiled them too long. Melancholy weaves her way around my noodle and I split into a million different versions of myself.
I’m attending the event cause an old colleague is catering and I’m assisting. The theme is Locust, or hunger, a charitable masquerade pretending to empathize with the impoverished and destitute. There’s thousands who’ve starved the whole week to gather at this factory on the outskirts of town and smoke exotic herbs to alter their perceptions. Many of the women resemble spirits with all the smoke around us, rippling into thin mirages that meander frenetically. What would a lifetime with any of them be like? I spot a Chinese girl who’s statuesque enough to fit into Roman porn with her chipped breasts and ivory ass. She notices my glance, approaches and introduces herself as, “Ella. I combined the Spanish words for the feminine and masculine ‘the.’”
“I’m Byron,” I reply.
She shakes my hand. “Tell me a secret.”
“Why don’t you go first?” I suggest.
She simpers. “I’ve lost my reflection.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let me show you.”
She pulls me into the girl’s bathroom and points at the mirror. I see my ugly self and twenty girls behind, but no Ella.
“I thought I was dead at first,” she says. “I still had to eat and shit so I figured I was alive.” I stare to make sure she’s real. She is, and I’m hypnotized by her skimpy dress and lean legs that are longer than my whole body. For a second, I wonder what it’d be like to bite them- frail, fragile, like a gaunt strip of quail. She asks me, “Do you think I’m beautiful?”
“How long’s it been since you’ve seen yourself?”
“A year?” she shrugs. “I don’t remember how I look anymore.” Her skin is pale and the veins in her neck are vulnerably bulbous, throbbing with platelets and plasma. The excess plasma makes her ponder, “Do you have parts of yourself you hate seeing? I remember when I was a kid, a swarm of bees stung my arm till it was a bloody strip of bumps.”
“I kill bees whenever I can,” I reply.
“Cause the taste of honey makes me sick.”
She asks me eight more questions, but she doesn’t really care for an answer, more in love with her questions than her token ‘boy of the moment.’ We spit through vodka shots, she wants to dance, tells me she picked me as her date for the night. “Impress me,” she says. “Or make me weep.”
The confused gesture on my face makes her laugh and she confesses she used to be a runway model traveling the globe, shuffling through French, Turkish, and Japanese lovers. “I dated a guy with the biggest knife collection in the world.” She twirls her wrist in a slashing motion. “I made sure he was miserable while I was with him.”
“I do it to every guy I love. It’s their punishment since I know it can’t last. What’s your passion?”
“I used to be a chef,” I answer.
“But I quit after I lost my sense of taste and smell.”
“You don’t smell anything?”
I shake my head. “It was the dumbest mistake of my life. I had to try every exotic food, ate something in India that nearly killed me.”
She puts something next to my nose, it crawls up my nostril like a scared roach.
“There’s no such thing as a mistake. Only discontent after the fact,” she says.
“I was too greedy,” I reply, feeling dizzy.
She slaps me in the face, takes me to the bathroom. The mirror rises up like a barricade. Neither of us are reflected. I turn to her, shocked. She laughs and asks, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done if you can’t see your reflection.”
“But I want to see.”
“Then shatter the glass with your fist.”
When I hesitate, she smiles. “You never told me a secret.”
Before I can answer, she turns around. A second later, she’s vanished. I can’t see her anywhere.