This week we have a fun, energetic piece from Kingston MFA student Alex Brinded.
‘Twist and Shout’ straddles the line between forms, using the structure and form of fiction but the rhythm and feel of poetry to capture a memorable moment at a family wedding. Is it prose poetry? Is it flash fiction? We’re not sure—but whatever it is, the energy of the dance shines through.
Twist and Shout
They start wheeling like a hell-train steam-bent on absolutely nailing it.
Him in a little blue waistcoat, sleeves rolled up, her in a white dress, a typical little number. The drum-beat hollows out my chest. The crowd whoops as people recognise the refrain—it’s bassier, louder and rawer than the original. This isn’t a typical little number.
Arms and legs flail and spin. The singer imitates John Lennon’s end-of-the-night, rasping, nearly-lost-his-voice voice.
No slow, shoulder-holding, soppy sloppy, love-sick makes-me-sick schmaltz. Forced grins drop and the crowd cheers them on. We won’t indulge in their indulgence like emotionally voyeuristic bottom feeders. We can just watch the show.
He picks her up and they spin, around and again. Sweat beads on his forehead reflect what little light there is. Her white dress billows out from her legs as she holds herself up on his shoulders. Then, she drops to the floor and their forearms brace – they roll united around the swelling and contracting oval space. Women in heels and cocktail dresses and men in suits push forward and back. Hands hold an array of glasses—champagne, wine and beer—whilst bodies bop on the perimeter.
I see the knackered exasperation on his face as he looks at the band. He looks back at her, determined. He has no idea how long this is. Has anyone else noticed? There was no rehearsal then, not even a check of the length of the song. “If we’ve got to dance let’s give them a fucking dance,” is no doubt what he said. That is, of course, if the version of him in my head is the same as real life. She runs and jumps, he clumsily catches her legs and swings her again. Booze and euphoria equal partners.
Red cheeks contrast to the wan face that returned from the pub toilet earlier. As he returned to the table, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand he grimly contemplated the lunchtime shot of spirit. He still drained it in one, no doubt hoping Dutch Courage would help the nerves.
He gulps for air now as they jive in tandem, throwing everything at it. Their movements slow and their heads nod. The tension, the weight of it all dissipates with this—their last task, their last public display. The exhaustion catching up with them. But this is their finale, their big bang finish. And so, they wearily look up again, hoping for it to stop. The band ploughs on.
We must be at five minutes.
The bride takes my arm in hers and we spin for a polka, the groom twirls a bridesmaid. Us four turning on the floor. I look out the corner of my eye, see how many eyes are turned on me, and hope the crowd will burst the dam. They rush forward, buoyed by the thrash and drum and sheer momentum of the moment.
The bride spins to the next partner. A couple of beats later couple by couple enter the fray. Hot bodies in brought dresses and rented suits crowd the small circle. A few men drop to lower a shoulder and up goes the groom. Other men bend a knee and up goes the bride. They perch limply, sweating and panting, with arms raised to the ceiling. We revolve underneath them like corresponding whirlpools and the off-key shouting drowns out the noise of the band.
I was never prouder than when my brother just danced.
Brinded says the inspiration for the piece came the moment at his brother’s wedding when, after a day of carefully choreographed movements and speeches, the bride and groom stopped following stage directions and let their personalities shine through.
Stay tuned next week for another great creative work!