"Michael, please tell me you'll do it, man."

He sighed, running a hand through his blond hair, just damp from shower. "I...I don't know, I'm not really a...blind date kind of guy, you know?"

"Please?"

"What's she like?"

"I don't know...Ciara said she's just broken up with her boyfriend a couple weeks ago—"

"So I'm going to be her rebound?" He slid his belt around his waist, dropping the phone to the bed to buckle it.

"Well..." he sounded desperate. "If you go, I'll—"

"No, no, it's okay." He picked up the phone again. "I'll go. Where is this anyway?"

"Apoetryslam."

"Sorry, I didn't really catch that."

"A..." his friend coughed. "A poetry slam..."

" Poetry."

"I'll pay for your ticket and everything, just please, please go." He begged.

"I..."

"C'mon Michael, you might even like it..."

"Okay, okay." A hint of a smile appeared on his face. "I'll go."

"Thank god...hey, I'll catch you later, man, Ciara wants to—"

"What's her name?"

"Huh, what?"

"The girl." He buttoned up his shirt. "What's her name?"

"Oh, um...I don't remember...I think it's...I think it's Danielle or something? I've really got to go now, though, but seriously, man, I owe you one!"

"Wow, you clean up nice."

He laughed, giving Dave a punch to the shoulder. "I think I'd rather hear that from my date, actually. Wouldn't want these dress pants and white button-up to go to waste, now would I?"

"This is the first time in years I haven't seen you in shorts and a hoodie. I think you'd better accept my compliment."

"Speaking of my date...where exactly is she?"

"Danielle said she's not coming!" Ciara came running in like Severus Snape after the failed murder of Albus Dumbledore at the hands of Draco Malfoy.

Dave froze. "She's not..."

"She said she and Alex got back together! He went to her door with flowers or something and some bullshit, but she's not coming!"

"Wow, I'm friend zoned without even meeting the girl yet." Michael joked.

Dave blinked.

"You...you're serious?" he looked to Ciara again. "She stood me up." He nodded, accepting his fate.

"Hey, you can still...you can still hang with us..."

"No, it's okay, I don't want to be your third wheel." He grinned half-heartedly. "I'll just...I might as well just watch the show, you already paid for the ticket, man. You guys...you just enjoy yourselves."


"Undulating silence in a breath of fresh air..."

He took another sip. Somehow, somewhere, the first two buttons of his shirt had come undone, the alcohol had probably slipped them loose.

"Turning, barely there..."

It was eleven, already, and only six 'aspiring poets' had gone. A sip for every performance. It felt like eighty.

"Captured in a moment, a moment secular, undivided..."

He looked across the room, watching Ciara and Dave feed each other what appeared to be fruits and vegetables on sticks. He turned away.

"How...how desperately do I want to turn away..."

He looked up to the stage, shrouded in darkness. He could barely make out the performer, dressed in a brown leather jacket and ripped jeans. He looked down at his gray dress pants and grimaced. Another sip.

"Just another one...another glance with a large price to pay..."

He looked up again. The woman, she appeared to be staring back at him. I must've had too much to drink.

"Devouring with the eyes..."

Her eyes were on him now, but they were innocent, surprisingly innocent. He stared back, shifting up in his seat.

"Every inch...every bit of skin wasted..."

He wondered what he should do. He was captivated, unwilling to turn away, but not wanting to continue on.

"So...so...innocent...innocent to touch and feel and caress with..."

She stopped. Her eyes caught with his once more, piercing, brown against bluish gray. "And caress with..."

He raised an eyebrow, unconsciously. He could've sworn he'd seen her raise one back.

"With..."

She didn't turn away, not yet. Her fingers, they were working at the zipper of her jacket, they were pulling the leather fabric off her shoulders, her bare shoulders. He took another sip, letting the liquid run down his throat like fire.

"Shameless...shameless abandon..." She let it drop to the floor.

He leaned forward, her eyes still watching him, expecting him. She looked at him innocently, her lips slightly parted, waiting. Go on, he wanted to mouth to the stage. I'm drunk, I'm imagining this.

"I want you."

What? The audience seemed to watch with bated breath, but her eyes were still focused, still focused on him. His own eyes widened, his position becoming increasingly stiffer.

"Is it so bad for me to want you?"

No, no, it's not.

"Is it so bad for me to want you to touch me in places I won't remember?"

Isn't that rape?

"You touch me with your eyes,"

His brow raised again, his arms folding over themselves.

"You make love with your legs closed and your eyes open..." she laughed, suddenly, a light, acerbic sound. "You fuck..."

She walked across the stage, and the light followed. He gulped. He could see every freckle, every shadow, every speck of color on her face.

"with your eyes...wide open..." He looked away, quickly.

"Don't turn away..."

Her voice dropped low, to almost a whisper. He reached for his glass.

"Don't drown yourself in liquor..."

It was empty.

"I just want..."

His fingers traced over the edge of the glass, waiting.

Silence.

He stared down at his table. The audience was murmuring amongst themselves.

"I just want you..."

He glanced up, maybe to ask for another drink. She caught his eye easily, and stepped to the edge of the stage. The toe of her laced up boots scuffed the yellow warning line.

Warning line...that means stop.

"I just want you to..."

He didn't break away from her gaze. He stood still, waiting.

Her face turned frozen, her eyes flickering away from his for just a second.

I'm winning.

She stepped back from the stage, her eyes widening, her hands tightening around the microphone. She sighed, loudly, and stepped backwards at the sound of her voice reverberating through it.

The light faded around her. He leaned forward.

"Look at me."

Applause.