A Bittersweet Dance

A Bittersweet Dance

Written by Ben Burke

 

The goddamn world was ending.

Youth is pretty because you don’t know the world well enough to know what we’re losing. But maybe it’s ugly since you don’t know it well enough to know that what we’re losing isn’t nearly as good as what you thought it was. That depends on if you’re an optimist or not. 

 

Not likely.

 

But enough of that. It’s time to party.

 

The day she killed the stormtroopers was good as hell. The day xe caught the brick and threw it right back was good as hell. The day he escaped this bad bad world was strange and sad and we cried but it was for the best, even though it started the worst. God rest his soul.

 

That’s what this party is about. 

 

So they all started to dance. A group of people multi-colored and all-gendered jumped up and down late late late into the night and kissed and laughed and had a great time. 

 

An AWOL soldier did stunning pirouettes, a starving artist threw hunger to the wind, a happy holy syndicalist made so much bread.


All the while, way, way up in space an asteroid had long been forming. There were a lot of different pieces to it, all incendiary. Even the lack of oxygen up in space couldn’t snuff out those flames.

One corner was iridescent purple, shimmering in such an entrancing way. It was as though the souls of all the dead kings were melted in a great big cauldron and let cool. One corner was God awfully frightening, the color of snuffed out life. One corner was bright and shiny gold, with flakes of platinum peppered throughout. A glossy film encapsulated this corner, made, upon closer examination, out of freshly fallen tears. 

And the worst part of all was that the asteroid was a sphere. So the corners were both indiscernible and infinite. So many people never ever got the chance to see them before the asteroid hit and so they never believed they were there.

As the party went on, angels descended upon it. Invisible to the partygoers, but ever-present. They hovered above the commotion and sat wistfully by the punch, taking a few last looks at the little humans they grew so fond of. Archangels were still up in heaven suspended in meditation, but tonight was the last night, and so the archangels’ subordinates flew down to watch. And maybe some of them even held hands and naively hoped they might be able to protect their mortals one last time, from one last threat, to prolong their lives for maybe just a moment longer. 

 

On the edge of the crowd, two boys not more than 20 years old stood still in each others’ arms. As they stood there more people who I can only assume were their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters in law and even their dogs joined them for a group hug, and they all put everything out of their mind except their love for each other. 


On the other side of the room, lowly lit and strobed by disco lights, a girl with short purple hair sat cross-legged, arms around her knees, and watched the most angelic girl she’d ever seen dance carelessly nearby. So she wiped the tears from her face and walked over with confidence and gently took the angel-girl by the hands and asked for a kiss which she received and never stopped receiving for the rest of her life.

One corner was iridescent purple, shimmering in such an entrancing way. It was as though the souls of all the dead kings were melted in a great big cauldron and let cool. One corner was God awfully frightening, the color of snuffed out life. One corner was bright and shiny gold, with flakes of platinum peppered throughout. A glossy film encapsulated this corner, made, upon closer examination, out of freshly fallen tears. 


And the worst part of all was that the asteroid was a sphere. So the corners were both indiscernible and infinite. So many people never ever got the chance to see them before the asteroid hit and so they never believed they were there.

As the party went on, angels descended upon it. Invisible to the partygoers, but ever-present. They hovered above the commotion and sat wistfully by the punch, taking a few last looks at the little humans they grew so fond of. Archangels were still up in heaven suspended in meditation, but tonight was the last night, and so the archangels’ subordinates flew down to watch. And maybe some of them even held hands and naively hoped they might be able to protect their mortals one last time, from one last threat, to prolong their lives for maybe just a moment longer. 

 

On the edge of the crowd, two boys not more than 20 years old stood still in each others’ arms. As they stood there more people, who I can only assume were their parents and siblings and even their dogs and cats, joined them for a group hug, and they all put everything out of their mind except their love for each other. 

 

On the other side of the room, lowly lit and strobed by disco lights, a girl with short purple hair sat cross-legged, arms around her knees, and watched the most angelic girl she’d ever seen dance carelessly nearby. So she wiped the tears from her face and walked over with confidence and gently took the angel-girl by the hands and asked for a kiss which she received and never stopped receiving for the rest of her life.

And so many people felt lonely on that night, maybe more so than they care to admit, but they danced and cried despite their best efforts to put on brave faces. Even as their tears rolled on to the dance floor they couldn’t deny the strange and horrifying community in knowing they were about to go the exact same way as all the people around them they had never fully met but had a doom-based kinship with.

It was getting late, still dark outside but the sun getting ready to ever so slightly peek her head above the horizon. The DJ was scrambling now to find whatever other songs ze could, but hir efforts were derailed by the ever-growing sorrow ze felt in hir soul. Ze resigned hirself to the fact that the night was over. Ze DJed the best ze ever had.

 

The angels took one last bittersweet look around, sad but deeply proud of how long all this lasted.

Then they all flew away.

 

Keith Haring

1958-1990


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