The party is booming as one would say. There are certainly a lot of people, Kati registers as she walks inside the room. It motions like a swirl of random events in front of her. When she’s at places like this one, she changes for the benefit of interest from others. There is nothing exciting about being an Estonian girl amongst other Estonian girls. Her friend Maret comes up and asks her how she is. Kati turns to Maret, that red-haired girl she’s always known for some reason and gives her a big hug. It’s the kind of embrace where she tries to hold Maret a little tighter, like some physical lie that they’re close in spirit. They both know that they’re not. But as they untangle themselves from the embrace they smile and make some small conversation. Some more girls come up to Maret and Kati. They all know each other from school. Kati smiles and asks them to excuse her for a minute; she’s only getting another drink at the bar and she’ll be right back.
This is a lie, of course. As she moves amongst the people at the party she knows that she must do what she always does. It’s not a matter of deceiving other people, she tells herself. It’s only a matter of living in another world than the one she was born in, something which is not her fault. It is only because the world is unfair. It’s not a lie if it could be true. And it could be if only things were different. It is only the luck or un-luck of the world and it is not her fault. By the bar she listens to conversations from the people; jobs they didn’t get, job they got, the future, the past and so on. She is weary. That’s all. A drink will make it better. It takes the edge off, or that’s what they say anyway. There are so many people and it takes a while for her to get to the bar. Maret was always one for making her parties as extravagant as possible, Kati thinks as she’s fighting the glistening crowd. Her parties always have to include a free bar and a dance floor that should belong in a public dance hall. Kati scoffs and looks around. She worries that she sweats to much as her blond hair is covering her face in a sticky streak. The hot and sticky bodies are close to her as she lengthens her arm in order to grab the beer the bartender is handing to her. The others are gone. There is no sight of Maret anywhere. Now Kati can begin. Now she can dwell in the lie that she only has to believe in for it to be true.
She knows about the roof. There is a stairwell leading to it. It’s a choice to get up there from the music and the people downstairs. She knows a spot up there where she can see the people entering through the only door, and that’s what she needs. She needs to be away from the people that she knows; who knows her. Kati heads up there; if there aren’t any people she could need the peace and if there is, well, then the thrill of a new identity can begin.
The other girls are wondering out loud, at this very moment, why Kati even bothered to get to the party when she always disappears.
Kati knows that it does not matter where she stays. This night will not revive itself because of any particular moment, but because of the stories she is able to tell afterwards. She knows how to spin a good crowd. She knows that the longer she stays here, the more she’s allowed to tell of this night when she meets up to class on Monday. It’s not whether you have a good time or not; it’s whether you can fake it. It’s how it works and she is well aware. Maybe one day she will be invited to a good party; one where she will not have to lie. She walks up the stairs and avoids some of the people making out up there. They have started early, she thinks. She does not think this without irony. It is not without contempt.
There it is: the door to the roof. And here she is; on the roof and alone except for some girls also sitting there, talking. They notice her. She feels the night, but it isn’t chilly. The days are really warm these days. It is summer, and the heat stays well into the night. She looks their way and she smiles at them. One of them says something to her in Estonian; her mother tongue. She pretends not to notice. She lies. She smiles to them and says “I don’t understand, sorry.” There is a leader of the pack. One of the girls, the prettiest one, walks over to her and sits down in front of her. “You’re from America?” she asks. Kati nods. Her pronunciation has always been good. It is better than good. It was flawless. The other girls quickly finish up their conversation and bring their beer to this new, foreign friend of theirs. The pretty girl wants to know where Kati is from and she says New York. Not only is it the easy answer, but it is the one that will create the most respect. She has tried other places. Other famous places, indeed. But New York always brings the most respect. No one cares if you’re from Chicago, not really, she knows this for a fact. New York is another story. It’s no different this time. They love it and the pretty girl wants to know all about Manhattan. Kati has never been, but she has seen many movies and besides, she’s done some research on the subject. The pretty girl hasn’t been there either, so Kati can say whatever she wants and have it seem believable. One of the girls asks her if she wants another beer and she says “yes, please.” She knows the drill. Soon they’ll want her to say something in Estonian and even sooner they’ll begin to talk about her in the language they believe she doesn’t understand. The boys will want to sleep with her; it would be a prize to sleep with an American girl. The girls want to take her out and be her best friend; it would be a prize to be best friends with an American girl. There are boys around her now, standing, checking her out. She hears them talking about her and when the girl with the beer comes back, they all want her to say something in Estonian. She tries and fails and they all laugh. She makes them laugh. There are a lot of people around her, but Kati is lucky. She is still able to see the door and able to leave if she sees Maret or one of the others come through it. It would be so embarrassing to be found out. But she can play the game for a little while longer.
There is a boy. He’s behind the other kids, but he loses interest and goes over to a friend of his. Kati sees him and she would like the others to leave now. For some reason she would like to talk to him, but not because she wants to lie. She’s tired of lying now. But the crowd is evaporating anyway, and with a dismissive attitude she quickly leaves. It’s not such a bad thing to do either; they will just say that it’s only because she is so streetwise. That’s how New Yorkers are. She walks over to the edge of the roof and sits down. He comes over to her. He sits down beside her and they look over Tallinn. He tells her his name; Koit. Kati thinks that she likes that, but she doesn’t tell him. He asks her the same thing as the others; where is she from. She tells him. New York. He wants to know where in New York. She tells him. Brooklyn. He wants to know where in Brooklyn. She tells him. Williamsburg. She knows her subject. She always wanted to go to Brooklyn. She looks at him when he talks; it’s just an excuse to look. She likes the way he looks. She likes his glasses. They’re stellar and make him look like a really cool librarian. That’s what she thinks. There’s something about the way he speaks that she likes. That’s until he asks her why she chose New York. It startles her and she doesn’t look at him for the fear that he might know something. He still looks over the city and so does she. But while she is tense, he is calm and Kati tries to feel him; he feels still. There is no anger to trace and she tries her luck, when she asks him what he means. He smiles and now he turns his head to look at her. He tells her that if she wants to pretend to be someone else, she has to do it all the time. She remembers the very beginning of the party. How she met Maret and getting the beer at the bar. He says there can be no time for mistakes. You cannot suddenly change a language. Maybe someone will notice. Like Koit. He noticed. He noticed her before, when she was just another one of the girls at the party. Kati has never been found out before, and now the darkness covers her red cheeks. She is embarrassed. She tells him some lie, still in that fake native tongue of hers, that she has to go downstairs for another drink, and she leaves him alone. Down the stairs she meets some people she can’t remember having met, but they look at her with some adoration in their eyes that she would normally have loved. She sees Maret, but they are over talking to each other now, so they just wave in the crowd. There is her jacket. Put it on and dismiss the shame of the lie. She opens the door, where some kids are smoking one of the last cigarettes of the night and talking in drunken slur about things that seem important right now.
When Kari turns the corner things are quiet again. She knows it’ll only be a little while before she’ll be okay and she is already starting to enjoy the stillness of the night without the noise of a party. The street is completely quiet. This was always one of the quieter neighborhoods. Maret’s neighbors must be out or something since they didn’t complain at all. The only problem, she tells herself, is that she was afraid Koit would dismiss all of her darkness if he knew it. That’s the problem. It wasn’t really that she lied. She only does it to be noticed a little bit. Everyone has a trick of their own. This is hers. She can’t do magic and she can’t stand on her head. Her party trick is just telling a white lie. But she’s not really that bothered anyway because it’s not like she knows Koit or anything. Sometimes there are some people walking past Kati, but they don’t pay any attention to her.
When the street is at its most quiet, she hears the sound of a bicycle creeping up on her. There is a speed to it, but it slows down as it gets closer. She does not turn around. You must never appear to be insecure in the night, she knows that much. It stops behind her and she turns around to see the person standing there. It is Koit. He smiles to her, an attempt to rid her of the insecurities of the night. And he asks her if he can follow her home under the promise that she will only tell him the truth. She nods and now she sees; he has rushed all this way only to catch up with her. His skin is now moist and his jacket is halfway on him. “Look”, she thinks in the language most natural to her, “there he is.”
Original website content (text, graphics, look & feel)
Authors, Photographers & Artists retain the copyright for their individual work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.