Dan and I have started a challenge. Create one thing a week (story or game) and post on a Sunday, with as little further explanation as we can bear!
I didn’t spend enough time this week so it’s unfinished.
Untitled: Story #1
The entrance was hidden on a small side street, a little way from the main avenue where the tram ran. As it slowed to a near step, Finn took her hand and jumped off, helping her to the platform’s edge. He didn’t let go as he guided her down the street she knew – the main, bustling city street with small round tables where people sat and played games into the evening or the clothing emporiums which at the moment exhibited a riot of colour. She was wearing a new dress for the evening, as it happened. When Finn had asked her – finally – if she wanted to go with him she had gone out that evening and ordered a taffeta knee length gown in crimson with a white satin flower on the shoulder. It had taken her most of the week to earn the credit to pay for it, but she thought it would be worth it to remember this night.
She felt as though it had taken him months to ask. Since he transferred into her department (process management and transportation) it seemed they had found more opportunities to speak to one another than their work demanded. She’d checked him out after a few weeks, and was pleased to see they were a good match, but she became impatient waiting. It had felt he’d never get around to it, and she’d misunderstood everything, until last week when he’d approached her at the water station and asked her what she was doing next Friday evening.
“I have tickets,” he said. Was that a hint of shyness? “To a – club.” The way he said it, a slight hesitation, then emphasis like she should know what he meant was enough.
“You mean – one of those?”
“Yes. Would you be interested?”
It was an unusual dating prospect, of course. She’d never been to one, never even really knew where one was/ And yet – something in the way he looked sideways at her while pouring his water, offering her a cup and allowing his fingers to graze hers as he handed it to her, persuaded her.
So she’d paid the credits, ordered the dress, and fretted about whether it was suitable. What did one wear to somewhere like that? But he’d said all the right things when he arrived and looked her up and down in that way men had, like she wasn’t wearing it at all, and she felt good about herself again. Maybe that, too, was the nutrient deficiency but she liked the sensation.
They rounded the corner from the main street and continued, rounding two more until she wasn’t certain any longer how she would get back to the tram if he weren’t with her. Foolish thought; why would they be separated by the end of the evening? She was too busy berating herself to notice they had stopped outside a single door, dark with a blank gold plate screwed onto it. Finn rapped, three times. How many times, she wondered, had he brought someone here, like this? Or was he as nervous as she felt? His hand still in hers gave her no way of knowing. He let go as the door opened, reaching into his jacket pocket.
With a shock she saw him hand over two green ID cards. The doorman, wearing white gloves and a black suit quite out of fashion in its colourless nature, examined them one at a time. He scrutinised her face, then smiled politely and nodded. He scanned the cards on a door-mounted box, and gave them back to Finn.
“Very well. Second floor, please. The show will begin soon.” With a flourish of his hand he stood aside, waving them through into a long corridor. She waited until they were away before leaning in to whisper.
“Where did you get those?”
“Mia, relax. Nobody’s going to get hurt or get in trouble. It’s got your first name on it. Keep things simple . You can have the ID if you want.” He handed it to her and she flipped it open. “Mia Warner.” She pocketed the card and they continued up the narrow staircase. Without windows, the electric lights buzzed gently to illuminate the passageway, squeezing them closer and closer together.
At the top of the stairs, there was an usher. Dressed in an emerald suit and pale green top-hat with a black bow, he directed them to the left. “The third box along, please, it’s currently empty. Just the two of you?”
“Yes,” Finn replied. “Thank you.”
The usher nodded and made a note on the screen in front of him when they passed. At the third door, Finn grasped the gold-plated handle and led her inside. The furnishings were simpler than she had expected, stripped of any elaborate finishes of luxurious fabrics. There were two upholstered chairs finished in plain fabric, a thick cushion propped against their backs. The floor was plain wood, stripped and varnished a warm honey-gold. The rim of the box was a single strip of wood varnished the same way, looking a little worn rounded on the edges, supporting a thin sheet of glass. She held back.
“The glass is mirrored on the outside,” Finn told her. “We can look out but nobody can see us in here. It’s completely private.” He pulled the chairs forward a little more. Mia sat hesitantly, leaning forward to put her elbows on the box rim and look into the darkness outside. There couldn’t have been more than eight boxes surrounding the stage but when she leaned out she could see rows above, boxes too, and maybe above them too, towering into the roof. How could he be sure they wouldn’t be seen? It wasn’t that the clubs were forbidden exactly, but not everybody approved of them, far from it. And she’d never known anyone who had actually admitted going to one. She shivered, feeling the heat of Finn’s skin beside her. The show was about to start.
It was an almost imperceptible change in the light at first, the boxes on the edge of the raised dais going slightly darker and then, slowly, a spotlight in the middle of the stage. Mia gasped. Finn took her hand and pressed his thumb against her wrist.
There was a table in the centre of the stage, laden with food, like she’d only ever seen in school history books. It was decadent beyond belief.
When the performer walked out onto the centre of the dais, Mia let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. Finn’s hand tightened on hers. She was tall, wearing a simple black shift and bare feet. She shuffled, more than walked, because the thing Mia noticed most about her was her fat. She was huge, easily the largest woman Mia had ever seen.