Naarm Melbourne / Teacher

I'm invited to a party to meet the longtime close friends of my brother. The friends are a couple that my brother and his partner have known for years but somehow we've never met.

I ascend an old New York City apartment building, crammed into a lift with a couple of friends I have brought along. Someone informs me that the host of the party is a teacher like me. I am reasurred that we will have plenty to talk about.

We step out and enter a salubrious NYC penthouse. The room is filled with people much cooler than I am, dressed in stylish streetwear the kind of outfits that looked simultaneously causally put together but also meticulously coordinated and probably more expensive than my rent.

The hosts are front and centre surrounded by a posse like Jesus in the Last Supper. I awkwardly introduce myself and move on.

I notice one of my bosses, the one that seems nice in passing and is always enthusiastic but sometimes comes off as just a little bit too intense. The one that you've heard stories about. I don't question why she is there but the friends have quietly dissapated so I find myself in de facto conversation with her. She asks if I prefered Subway sandwiches the way they used to be, before they changed. I tell her I'm not sure. I wasn't aware that Subway had made a change or when. I don't eat Subway very often. I leave and wander my way around the party without engaging with anyone.

I enter a dark room full of people. Large glass windows look out towards the opposite row of impossibly tall ancient NYC apartment buildings that seem to stretch on forever in every direction.

There is a TV in the room. Someone tells me I have to watch the film playing. So I do. I stand, seemingly the only person engrossed in the film among a room of people focused on themselves.

The film seems long but I lose track of time. It seems to bleed into the room. It ends with everyone taking their pants off and lying on their fronts on what might be a beach with no water, like the surface of an alien planet. I become self conscious as the people at the party, after a long time, suddenly seem more aware of me standing there, voyeuristicly watching.

More time passes and the party winds down. I feel as if I'm only now waking up. It's late and the last of the partygoers have filed out. Only the host is left talking to one guest.

I realise the guest has only just arrived. He takes a small orange cylinder, the kind that you store pills in, from a bumbag around his waist. The cylinder is full of weed.

The host hands the man a 50. "Hey, can I get some?" I ask the dealer. I fumble for my wallet but only find $5. I don't usually carry much cash and I remember I had had to use my stash recently and had forgotten to replace it. I ask the host to cover me and I could NetBank him. "Sure". He agrees without complaint in a tone that indicated it was nothing to him but also struggled to hide a hint of smug scepticism that my offer of reimbursement was sincere. The host goes to leave but I stop him. "No, wait give me your bank details and I'll send the money now," I say.

I try to open my bank app but accidentally open something else. My fingers struggle to find the right app. I am acutely aware of how long I am taking, making the host wait, after insisting I pay him. I feel lost in my own phone, knowing the pathway should be simple, muscle memory, but it is as if I am drunk and something frustratingly familiar is confusing and disorienting. I dissolve into the maze of irrelevant information in my phone.

© Neptune and Manisha Anjali

© Neptune and Manisha Anjali