How do we find ourselves in space and time? How do we locate our position in a Hubble photo? Where in the galaxy are we? All these atoms. All these spider legs. Starfish glued to the seabed. Lizards in the afternoon sun. Birds that chirp at dusk. The neighbour calls into the night for her cat, taps at the bowl with the ring on her finger before putting it on the doorstep for the cat to find later and going back inside.
The party you went to. At the house with the aquarium and the deck, cantilevered, a fire pit, the view beyond too dark to see. Music and waiters serving drinks, not long before you went missing. That was long before all of this. It was one of the best nights of your life, remember? You were only slightly underdressed for the occasion and, anyway, no one seemed to care. It was cool but not cold, the sky clear, you even danced inside for a while. Seagulls cawed overhead, drawn to the house by the lights and the noise, even though you were in the hills and nowhere near the bay; you felt like you could have been anywhere, wished you were anywhere, wished the night would not end, or at least that the feeling would last. That’s right, while you were outside, alone, leaning on the railing and catching your breath, you, for a moment, stopped, the party behind you, laughter and bass pulsing, to think about the feeling you had, this little glowing charcoal of joy, of ways to nurture and prolong it. Of manipulating it into something which wouldn’t fade too quickly. Finding a way to make this permanent, or at least something you could return to, and for the hot sun to catch you right there, bleary-eyed and tired yet awake, in the morning.
Something happened, of course. Something was said, trouble with one of the friends you came with and he wanted to leave. You protested, but why would you stay? You went home the same way that you arrived: with your friend driving, the radio playing, the car’s fan belt squealing like a cartoon skeleton.
Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.