There’s never any warning. Perhaps that’s part of the deal, me not expecting it. Like you can’t have French fries without mayonnaise. In my world at any rate. It’s a state of being that I suddenly find myself in. I look in the mirror and reckon I’m attractive, better looking than usual. My eyes seem slightly slanted, almond-shaped and darker than normal. They remind me of chocolate spread. My hair falls just right, behind my ears. I know at once what to wear and it feels good. Usually my clothes feel uncomfortable; I sense the seams scratching my skin. By the end of the day, I often have two red grooves under my breasts where the underwire in my bra cut into me. Now I feel nothing, apart from an insatiable hunger to destroy everything. It’s all got to be smashed and I will be stunningly beautiful with a wrecking hammer in my hand. I understand the art of destruction. I’m incredibly good at it. Pulverising everything I’ve built up with my own hands. Then surveying it. All that splendour. Sometimes it lasts an evening, sometimes weeks. I start at the beginning and score a line in the palm of my hand with the tip of my nail scissors. A red scratch across the surface of the skin, my blood pulsating underneath. I’ll look at it tonight when I have to remind myself what I’m up to.
It’s my best friend’s birthday. I’m lucky with this party because he too is up to destroying himself on evenings like this. The music is already throbbing in the stairwell and the beat creeps into my belly. I tense my jaw muscles; I know it’s going to happen quickly. When the door opens, preferably straight away, the very first one. Someone with timid eyes, someone who has been waiting a long time, someone who’s easily overwhelmed. To get in the swing of things. I have to build it up — not everyone understands this. I pick up the first abandoned beer from the corner of a table and drink. A guy is standing next to the bookcase. I know him from somewhere, no idea where. He must be the one. If he doesn’t work out, the evening will be a fiasco. I like that word, should use it more often. He looks up and sees me. His hair is dark and voluminous. I long to entangle my fingers in it. A smile is on his lips as he looks down again, I’m sure of it. I walk straight up to him.
“How are you?” he asks shyly.
I lean towards him a little and touch his lips with mine. He kisses softly like women do. I push him slowly against the bookcase. His arm suddenly grasps my waist, his fingers dig into my back. I’m reminded of water, of someone being rescued from a maelstrom, a drowning man who has been floundering for too long and desperately clings onto his heroine. I have difficulty extracting myself. From the corner of my eye I can see him looking for support from the bookcase.
Jan embraces me.
“Is it one of those evenings?” he asks.
“You joining me?”
I turn around even before Jan can shake his head. I know Tammy will want to. She always looks frighteningly beautiful. Black tutu and white negligee. When she spots me she bursts into a harsh laugh that reverberates throughout the party. She can see it, she can see it in my eyes. Then she takes my mouth and curls her leg around my butt. As I kiss her, the world spins. The universe finds its centre of gravity and swirls around us. This is what it should be like.
Some evenings pass me by: I’m not part of what’s going on. I don’t have any influence then. This is my night; I am the evening. Sometimes I hear people talking about me, sometimes I feel arms on my back, the music pulsates to my rhythm and not the other way round. Now I need to be harder, trickier, now that the alcohol is flowing through my veins just as it should. The Ramones resound from another room. I can only hear music, no talking. I’m curious so I push open the door — and see Eddy standing all alone in the middle of the room. He’s in a world of his own, playing air guitar. Eddy is the artist who has just got into the most prestigious Master’s programme in the country. Every month, he changes his sartorial style: he used to be a sleek toff, then a Cybergoth and now he’s a punk down to the very last detail. And he’s got crazy eyes, just like me. As I stand in front of him, he carries on playing, his arm raised in the air, then plunging down to strum the imaginary strings. I try to kiss him but nothing works. Now I have a mission. Genuinely good art — and that’s what I do — is slightly muddied by bad taste. It has to be worse, it has to be more vulgar. I don’t remember how I found the lolly. Fortunately it’s bright pink and I can already taste the chewing-gum ball underneath. I wait in the toilet, which everyone has to pass to get to the kitchen. Then I grab him by his black shirt that’s torn half-open.
“I’ve got a girlfriend,” he says.
I lean against the inside of the toilet door and pull the lolly out of my mouth while I continue to look at him. Then he too cracks. He almost falls on my face with his mouth open. His hands disappear inside my tights. After I’ve come in jolts against the door, I leave him behind in the toilet. I know for sure he won’t wash his hands.
It’s five thirty when the police appear in the corridor. Of course they are young and big. I have to tilt my head back to look at them.
“The music’s very loud in that room,” I say. “Why don’t you come with me?”
I reach out for his hand and he quickly folds his arms.
“You still got long to go?”
The officer ignores everything I say and I look at the scratch on my hand.