Tantalus

by maddrunkgenius

She dances on the stage, swaying this way and that under some unnatural power. She is alive and through her, the music is made alive. She is the music itself. She is is beauty itself.

Her belly twists and jumps like a charmed snake, but I’m the one who’s hypnotized. I’m the one who’s enthralled. I know it. I want to submit, to surrender, but I still have some hope unabandoned and it won’t let me.

I turn my eyes away, to the far wall, to the topless girl serving, to the empty glass in my hand. I stare as long as I can, then return my eyes to the stage and pour myself into the dancing girl, trying to fill her up. I want to touch her, but she is too far away. My glass is empty, and I order another.

It wasn’t always like this. Things used to be different, but I can’t remember how. They were different though, and better than they are now.

I sit here, and I stare. I reach and touch nothing. My throat burns, and my body aches with desire. There is no satisfaction here, but I am so near. I am near enough I can imagine the satisfaction, and if I didn’t sit here and watch her, I wouldn’t even get that. I order another drink.

Someone at home is waiting for me. Someone is, or I imagine someone is. But what I am so close to getting here, I cannot get there. I might be able to attain satisfaction, but knowing this exists, it would be a pale imitation. But wouldn’t that be better? I wouldn’t be as happy as this place promises me I can be, but I would have some measure of happiness. I could be content, at least.

I set my empty glass on the table and get up to leave. I take two steps, hear the music change. I look back. Someone new is coming on stage. She is pretty and so close, so very close. I sit back down to watch and I order another drink.