A pair of scuffed Kicker boots (size 5) —love-heart patterned socks tucked neatly inside, rainbow laces tied together to make sure they don’t lose each other. Bonfire remnants erupting like ashy mole hills from the dance-trampled grass. Curious wagtails pecking over them, watched by warier stonechats hiding in the hedges. A Ford Escort with a smiley face traced in the dust on the driver’s door, and a note from Tara tucked under the windscreen wiper promising collection soon, not sure when, kiss kiss. The leftover euphoria, rippling on the early morning breeze, from hundreds of ravers raving all night long during the second summer of love. A single, forgotten bin-bag filled with crumpled water bottles and beer cans. King-size Rizla packets with the cardboard covers torn off. Helpless, tears running down your face, clutching your belly laughter, still resonating on the air. Used condoms. Lost knickers. Echoes of whispered words promising temporary, or maybe even lifelong, love. Empty plastic baggies, empty paper pouches — their ecstatic, speedy contents now slowing in the veins of the blissed out, morning after dancers heading back to the “real world”. The one they really don’t want to be a part of with its rigid rules and high expectations. The world where the tabloids have labelled them a threat to the moral well-being of the entire country. The world full of frowns and scowls and people trodden down. Beats from the bass reverberations still throbbing through the soil. The feeling that if everyone everywhere would just keep dancing, keep hugging, and keep sharing the love, then, despite how it often seems, everything might just turn out all right.
Amanda Saint is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Her short fictions have been widely published and appeared on lots of prize long and shortlists and the winners’ podium just the once so far. Amanda founded and runs Retreat West, providing an online writing community, competitions and courses; and the award-winning Retreat West Books indie press, which publishes short fictions, novels and memoirs.