The first night he first met her he saw her dancing from afar at a party. Swaying drunkenly to some soft, emotionless, radio-friendly anthem that she later told him was deep and meaningful to her. As the empty pop music spoke to her, she turned the wood paneled basement into her private dance floor.
No one else at the party was dancing but that didn’t stop her. She moved across the musty carpet and people watched her as they absently drank watered down beer and cheap wine. Groups of drunk girls in dark corners took languid pulls from their cigarettes and whispered to one another. He imagined they were judging her because she seemed more free than they were.
She wasn’t smart, or unique, or even beautiful. But she seemed different.
He pulled her aside and struck up a conversation. Later she would tell him that night was filled with poetry and magic. In a dusty laundry room on a concrete floor, they came together over a pack of cigarettes and red Solo cups full of keg beer.
It started the way he imagined all great love affairs do. Late nights that turned into dark mornings where the reality of it all hung heavy in the dawn’s cold light. Long, sad conversations were spawned by the emptiness in the world around them. He never remembered anything they talked about of significance, but he felt in those moments she understood him. She loved listening to Mazzy Star and he pretended to love listening to Mazzy Star. They made love for hours and she often fell asleep afterwards. With her long legs intertwined with his and her dark hair flowing across his chest, he felt content for the briefest of moments. He enjoyed laying there in the darkness with her and listening to the soft hum of traffic while smelling her shampoo over the ashes of their Marlboro Reds.
When he was with her, his sadness and depression seemed to ease, so he lost himself in the time he spent with her and longed for more of it. He smothered her and she quietly slipped away. Those eyes that once appeared so warm and vivacious turned distant and he finally saw her for what she was: vacuous.
He soaked his heartache in alcohol, determined to drown the memory of her.
He stumbled down the steps of that basement not long after it ended and there she was, dancing alone. The lost faces around the room watched her and either yearned to be her newest conquest or pitied her. He looked around and realized the basement and those furious nights were never filled with magic or poetry. Disgusted, he walked back up the stairs and out into the cold night where the snow had just begun to fall.