Butterfly Kicks




I’m really not good at parties. I’m sixteen, drinking vodka and lemonade, and on my way to getting off my face for the first time. New Years Eve! My toes are pinching in these high heels of Beas. She’s off with Stacey’s older brother’s mate to smoke a joint and hasn’t come back. I really want to take these shoes off, but all the other girls have still got theirs on. I’m going to keep dancing, even though I really don’t know how. My legs are too stiff and my arms too long and I’m way too shy to throw them up into the air the way the other girls are doing. What the hell. Here goes! [She flings her arms up above her head and immediately slams them back to her sides]. I feel like one of those plastic wind thingys outside car sales yards. I am going back to my awkward bop. One of those rotating light ball things is turning my arms red, blue, yellow, pink. I watch the lights dance around the walls to a face- the only person not dancing, leaning against the doorframe, looking at me. The light ball spins and she’s gone.

I dive through the dance floor of sweaty teenage bodies, wriggling through their heat until I burst free. I sway and grab the doorframe but I don’t think it’s the vodka making my stomach flutter. The kitchen is bright and clean and crisp after the humid darkness of the living room.

“Hey”, I say. “How’s it going?”

I bloody wish! I’m not brave enough to make a sound. Instead, I stare at the ground and take a long sip of my lemonade vodka to delay the walk of shame back to the dance floor.

“Hey” she says. “How’s it going?”

And I need to take what feels like a full minute to process what she’s just said to me. That she actually spoke to me. And her eyes are getting bigger and bigger until they’re all I can see and they’re waiting for me to say something too-

“Hey” I say back. “It’s alright”.

“Alright?” She says.

“Yeah.” I say.

“Cool.” she says. And walks out of the kitchen.

I dive back into the dance floor and see her pushing her way through the crowd. She’s wearing earrings, lots of them, little silver hoops and studs, and when they catch the light they sparkle. She throws her arms up with abandon, like she could climb up through the air, past the ceiling and keep going until she reaches the stars. She spins around and sees me watching her.

I think she’s smiling. I mean, I know she’s smiling, I-I can see it. I know what a smile looks like. I mean, I think she’s smiling at me.

I kick off the stupid shoes and plunge into the crowd. She grabs me and pulls me past a group of grinding girls. She throws her arms into the air, taking mine with it.

“Hey” I say. “Do you feel like one of those plastic wind things outside car sales yards?”

“What?” she yells.


“Huh, yeah, I guess so.”


I’ve lost track of time when the music cuts out. A countdown starts from someone in the crowd and there’s a flurry of sweat and limbs as everyone hurries to find their mates and their boyfriends and their cameras-



I can’t see Bea anywhere


Stacey is grabbing the neck of the nearest boy and pulling him up onto the couch



Someone turns the TV on and there’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge



Bea’s fucked off, Stacey’s moving her mouth towards the boy, the televised countdown is ringing in my ears and the vodka burns in my throat and face and arms



I want to hold her close to me, for her to know that she is safe, and will always be safe, I’ll make sure of it


“Can I kiss you?”


And she’s there. She’s everywhere. I’m kissing her and she’s kissing me, and I close my eyes and I’m flying, I swear, I’m fucking flying.