A short story for Friday Nights when you aren't out being wild.
Where the Wild Things Are
Friday – my night of fun, time to stretch the branches of my limbs and work out the knots of my muscles after six days of conforming to inhumanly boring human norms. My pockets full of banknotes, I head to the Lamplight – a bar on Crown Street on the south side of the city where the wild things are. Where I can be wild for six heavenly hours.
"Bastet, good to see you." Janus’s amethyst eyes sparkle playfully as he shakes my hand in greeting. His imposing figure guards the entrance. His clean-shaven young face gazes outwards, taking in both my presence and the entire street beyond. If the legends are true, and I have no reason to doubt that they are, he sees every event and every thought I've entertained in this and all my previous lives. I’ll glimpse his bearded face when I leave tomorrow morning, but for now it’s out of view.
I am Bastet here. Those allowed to enter this place are reborn into gods and goddesses from the moment we step across the threshold. Others, who discover the door by accident, are turned away. Janus knows who belongs, sensing the divine sparks in our chests. My work-day name is reserved for rent agreements and employment contracts. It winks at me from my bankcard, promising to keep my secret. Even my parents, who I visit every Sunday, call me Sara.
I shed my skin and hand it to Maya, the cloakroom attendant, who offers me a blue pill in return. Exposed, my glossy muscles reflect rainbows of flashing lights while my nerve endings pulse in time with the bassline of the exhilarating music that Discordia plays. I swallow the capsule and joy races through my blood. The transformation is painless if you shield your eyes from the blinding brightness that accompanies it. Lids shuttered, I bounce, lifting higher with each new leap. My knees invert and my recently clipped toenails morph into crescent-moon claws that protrude from velvet sheaths. A tail that makes deceit impossible loops at the tip, displaying my delight at seeing Ninkasi stumble drunkenly towards me. Her breath intoxicates me and I purr sweet nothings in her ear.
The azure candy doesn’t only transform my body. The club becomes a jungle and the music is the beating heart of nature that powers everything and everyone. Ninkasi, swaying between my elevated front legs and bending my whiskers with her cool cheek, sees an oasis in a desert. From her perspective we’re dancing in shallow water. When she explained that to me, many years ago, I concentrated until I felt liquid under the pads of my paws, but it frightened me. I’m blissfully content to remain in my jungle.
Erishkigal’s bone-white face grins at us from the dance floor until she becomes a blur of motion, spinning like a dervish on the polished boards. I don’t ask what Erishkigal sees, but I imagine mounds of rotting flesh. Everyone’s paradise is different.
It takes twenty-four hours to sleep off Friday night’s excesses. Sundays are spent with my mortal family, then it’s back to work on Monday, strapping myself into underwear, skirt and jacket to ensure I look like everyone on else on the streets, in the tube train and behind my desk.
Six hours out of every 168, I am truly myself.