Songs of Bliss
Cincinnati Dancing Pig
The doorbell rings and Bex skips down the stairs in her dressing gown, her hair
wrapped in a towelling turban. The house is full of sound. Material Girl. Bex is playing one
of her compact discs very loudly on Billy's stereo. Through the frosted glass in the front
door she can see the outline of a female head. Leona.
Bex swings the door open and is greeted with a hug and a still cool bottle of Chilean
white. Leona persuaded her lift to stop off at a supermarket on the way over. The trauma of
Saturday afternoon queues at the ten items or less aisle means she is gasping for a cigarette.
Bex shows her into the kitchen and unlocks the back door. Leona s lices through the foil
sheath covering the stopper with the tine of a fork and uncorks the bottle. The girls stand in
the garden in bright, late afternoon sunlight, dragging on Silk Cuts. Sunlight sparkles on
wine glasses. Condensation dribbles over their fingers.
"I don't usually smoke. Just at the weekends." Leona giggles like a naughty
schoolgirl. They are both high on anticipation, too young to know the perennial
disappointment of night clubs and loud music, that hollow feeling that comes with age and
an inevitable desire to snuggle up at home with the television.
"I'm just the same. Sorry we've got to smoke out here but Dad would go mad. His
voice and all that. And he thinks I'm too young."
"Yeah, that and the stress".
Bex is at a loss to understand what stresses Leona is under. They are both
seventeen. "It can't be that bad".
"People don't understand. I mean, it's not as though I'm a binge drinker or anything,
you know, out all night boozing. I work at the club because of my course. I thought it
would help. But yesterday my tutor gave me shit about my work and always being tired. I
mean, bummer or what?"
The perennial student problem. Work, play and study. It seems that Leona is
burning too many candles at odd angles.
"Anyway, I don't want to talk about it. It's my day off and we're going to hit the
town. We'll start with another glass of this, get some bass thumping out of that stereo and
hit the bedroom."
They finish their cigarettes, stubbing them out in a glazed blue pot full of last year's
dead bedding plants, and take their glasses, the bottle and Leona's overnight bag upstairs to
the bedroom Bex is using during her stay in Bideford. Towels are dug out of the airing
cupboard and the shower steams.
With the basics done, both girls spend the next hour studiously making themselves
up to look like they don't care; hair professionally unkempt, foundation, a hint of lip gloss,
a dash of sparkle, nails scrubbed, and in Leona's case painted purple. Madonna gives way
to the infectious groove of the dance floor. Basement Jaxx.