We arrive in disguise, unsure of whether it’s a party or a protest. All we were given was the time, the place, and a theme: our departed ancestors. I come painted in the ashes of my mother, my father, and my grandparents on both sides, and when I arrive a hanged man fingers a crude cross onto my forehead in crude oil, and tells me to leave my coat on the pile or the pyre – it’s hard to hear over music that’s so loud that birds are falling from the sky. The song is breaking glass and falling trees, and everyone is dancing to the rhythm of batons on Perspex shields. Children in the ill-fitting costumes of adulthood fall to their knees, and the forgotten dead, dressed up as the neglected living, throw shadow shapes in naked flame. It’s hot, hot, hot, Hi-NRG, and bodies press and slide where they really, really shouldn’t, until a whistle rips the universe into a billion tiny pieces. In the restroom mirror, I don’t know whose blood I’m wearing. Someone’s hammering on the door.



Oz Hardwick




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