character creative non-fiction

21st Night of September

What makes you think of someone? For Bridie Wilkinson, a certain song pulls up memories of a certain special person

by Bridie Wilkinson

When I think of her, I hear twenty seconds of music. A 1, 2, 3 step of anticipation that shoots right down your spine, around your hips and bounces back up to the brass, that grabs your hand and says , ‘Now, babe, now!’ pulling you through the sweaty crowd. Her grip tightens as you both weave to the beat, pressing past the bodies to break into a space, just as it starts, the verse that is already becoming an echo to her, to the both of you, as you scream along to it because of course, it’s this one.

It sparks through her as she queues it up on a playlist at a party, looking around, wide-eyed and devilish, until she fixes on you. You’re in a circle with your back to her but you still feel it, can sense it, and you turn to catch that look. You’ve seen it so many times, at so many parties, where she breezes through out of nowhere, wine glass aloft. ‘Just one song, yeah?’ she says to nobody in particular. Glass down to claim her territory as she plays that one, then two, then five, then it’s her for the rest of the evening, the counter now her decks and the tiles now her dance floor. There is no separating the girl from the sound. There never is, so she’s looking at you, and then it starts, and you break away, just like she knew you would, and give in to the song.

“There is no separating the girl from the sound.”

Sometimes you forget. It gets stuck, somewhere in your throat, maybe, or rattling around in the back of your mind. Lying in bed, taste of last night on your tongue and attempting to numb out the sounds from your open window, you burrow into your pillow and pull your knees into your chest. A whistle catches you. Downstairs. Padding to the kitchen, the kettle clicking, the aux cable scratching. And then, there it is, unstuck, travelling up the stairs as you can imagine her in the kitchen, skidding in her socks towards the fridge. You text her thank you. She responds by turning it up, just as the horns start.

Those twenty seconds belong to her, wherever you are. In the background of a film, in the middle of a supermarket, when you’re out, elsewhere, with others, it’ll come on and there she is. Weaving through a crowd, turning up the speaker, eyes shut in pure joy as she raises her hand to you. ‘Now, babe, now! so you have no choice but to pull out your phone and tell her, ‘you’ll never guess what they just played.’


Bridie Wilkinson | @bridifer | Russian Novel

Co-founder of Dear Damsels, regular twirler on dance floors.

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