It was oppressively hot, but it was worse inside. The idea for the party had been born earlier that month, straight out of the heatwave, full of desperate loneliness and braised, salted wounds. He had thought that the heat had been bad when the party was thought up but it had gotten worse, the end of summer was supposed to bring promise of a cool refreshing fall, but instead the dog days were holding on.
Partygoers were wilting like flowers, falling and rising in dance on a phantom wind born and nursed by too-expensive-booze, and sweat dampened morals, the peace was tenuous. It was just too hot for a party, even the breeze was like licks of fire on his cheeks.
The rail of the balcony scorched his forearms, but it was better than dancing in the heat. He dropped his head back and looked for stars he would not find, but before the search even truly began the click of heels sounded behind him, the echoes of a last ditch S.O.S in consistent and aggressive morse code.
He did not look, she came up to the railing next to him. He still did not look at her, but in his peripheral he could see she was reasonably tall, dressed in unseasonal black, sleek. She inclined her head and stared out into the darkened hedge maze below them, all shadow. He could sense her grace rather than see it, there was something indescribably elegant in her presence, but she was incredibly still. She was pensive in a way that only people dressed in finery and malcontent can be.
She looked on as a couple stumbling their way through the doors below them, tipsy, glittering and very much in love made their way into the maze. Both were dressed in crisp autumn colors, one a in deep burgundy gown that splayed behind her like a trail of fire and the other in a warm burnt orange that fell like water.
Two leaves dancing in the too warm night, lost to the world and unregistering of the weather outside of their perfect dichotomy.
She glanced sideways up at him through the leaden air, her sharp, slanted eyes caught him off guard, caught him staring at her with the sideways glance of someone interested but unwilling to admit it, but her interest was clear.
He slid his eyes lazily away and turned so his back was to the railing. She turned her head to see his profile, if he glanced at her out of the corner of his eye again he would see almost her whole face, a dangerous temptation. He hadn’t really seen her yet, the tendons in his neck lightly pulled him to look at her, but he resisted, he vowed not to look. He didn’t want to talk to anyone, especially not at this party.
She sighed, a light huff of hot air in the even warmer atmosphere around them, the air around them weighed heavy on him, even the light seemed dragged down. She leaned her narrow gloved hands on the bannister the stem of a champagne flute nestled in her long, lithe fingers.
She was made of long lines like an artist had just drawn out the essential curves in stark black strokes, she flowed like fine ink.
She swirled the champagne in her glass, light winked off it catching the light like a star on earth.
“This is the expensive stuff and what a glass to put it in.” Her voice was low and rolling over him, lulling him into a stupor, “The cost of the wine almost justifies the dressing up, but this glass, the glass definitely justifies the dressing up.”
A sudden shattering caused his trance to break, his vow forgotten his head snapped to look at her.
From her elegant and bewitching fingers the glass had fallen, no, he realized as he looked at her small smirk in profile, the fine crystal glass had been dropped, on purpose.
A galaxy now lay on the stones beneath them, the leaves in the maze had also turned suddenly at the clear cold noise cutting through the heat, but they were once again lost to themselves within moments.
He was now staring into her eyes, unable to look away, pinned like an insect to a scientist’s board, her dark brown eyes looked almost black under shadow and tapered lids.
He spoke one word, his voice rusty and thick with the overly warm air, “Why?”
She glanced down and turned on her heel, her sharp cheekbones and nose flashed in the light of the windowed doors she was headed toward, now that he had looked at her he could not look away. Those inky outlines were nothing on the amorphous night she was truly made of.
“So you would look at me,” she walked through the doors then, the promise of a cool fall night disappearing into the light of a too hot summer party.