The party is at a mansion. The banisters are run with poinsettias and lights. Most people are downstairs, but she is here, on one of the upper levels of the house.
She is sitting in a plush carpeted hallway, looking right. Down the long hallway, behind one of the many doors, her aunt lies sick. Her aunt was the one throwing the party, but now she is lying in bed, the lights out, her face turned away. When the girl went in to check on her, she said, “Auntie, are you okay?”
The woman turned to look at the girl and croaked, “Does it look like I’m okay?”
Now the girl sits in the hallway, pondering what to do.
She feels something on the back of her neck, a tingling, like a pair of eyes is looking at her. She turns, and sees nothing but a potted cactus on the rail. It is light green, shaped like a head. She turns back around. The tingling spreads to her back and makes her smile. She looks over her shoulder again. That plant looks damned near like a human. She turns away again and imagines it taking on ears and eyes. She feels it taking on ears and eyes.
When she turns around a third time, he is smiling at her. He is a young man, with spiked blond hair and a smile. His skin is slightly green. But as he talks, this goes away and he turns a crisp pink, a healthy shade that she likes. He stands up off of the railing and takes a step toward her. He is holding out his hand.
“My name’s Brian,” he says. “Wanna dance?”
She stands up and curtsies, taking his hand. They begin spinning around the carpeted hallway, laughter in their eyes. “Shhh!” she says, when he bangs her up against a wall. “You’ll wake up Auntie!”
They keep dancing, and he is looking deep into her eyes. She feels squeamish, in a good way, like she’s known him forever. “How long were you watching me?” she asks, her head cocked and her eyes happily suspicious. He pulls her long body close to him and whispers back, the smell of musk and something deeply familiar coming from him.
“I’ve been watching you for a long, long time,” he says. The flutter in her chest makes something melt in her body.
They dance on, the cactus boy and the girl, and they realize they are the perfect pair. They realize they belong together. They spin on and on around the hallway, laughter twinkling in their eyes, and the thumping of blood that pounds through her body brings every part of her to life.
Then he presses her into a corner and looks into her eyes. She knows it is time to go.
Darkness moves in on them, beginning to swallow them up. It closes in on them from three corners. It is tall, shadowy, and reflective. The Christmas lights shimmer just beyond them, now impossible to reach. She giggles.
“Let’s go!” she cries.
And then he turns to water, and she turns to sand, and they slip into another dimension.