Inspired By the Song ‘‘Overload’
By the Cardigans
Overload, oh what a match we are,
as we romance along towards the fire escape.
Open fire, forever in your arms,
splendid time we have
doing what I dread.
Oh my Lord, can I buy some time?
I'm learning to dance,
dum di dee dance.
I am dancing, OK.
Overlord, Lord of the Underworld,
full of wonder girl,
as we twist and twirl.
Hot and dry, high in my cloven heels,
this is how real love feels,
as we prance and die.
Oh my Lord, such a fancy fire.
As we dance.
You sure can dance.
You I will never forget.
I hope you remember me later.
I'm swimming in a puddle of sweat,
I'm hot baby, don't burn your fingers.
I'm tenderly served on your plate,
the band must continue to play,
so we can dance.
I love to dance.
Baby, dance with me.
Yeah I can dance.
Your love is to dance.
Now dance me home.
Slow Dance in Time
This sallow-faced creature with the sunken cheeks and hollow eyes bruised with unnatural tiredness could not be her vivacious Aunt Caroline. Only a year ago her aunt had run the New York Marathon, power walked to her job as an editor at the Greener World Magazine, and had proclaimed Sunday, not a day of rest, but ‘Rock Climbing Sunday’.
But like a blood-sucking vampire that enjoyed playing with its food, cancer had stalked Aunt Caroline and now taken her hostage, drawing her life source out of her day by day.
“You sure you’re going to be OK?” Avery asked for the fiftieth time as she tucked her aunt into bed. She put her meds beside her and made sure her favourite book was on her bedside cabinet along with her reading glasses, a glass of water, her cell in case she needed Avery, and the remote to the ancient mini television that sat in the corner of the room.
Aunt Caroline smiled wearily and made a shooing away gesture. “I told you, today is a good day. Will you please just go? Your friends are waiting for you.”
Ignoring the knot of anxiety in her chest, Avery pressed a light kiss to her aunt’s cheek and made her way quickly out of the apartment before she changed her mind. She had gone through this every month since her aunt’s diagnosis. But it stopped her aunt from feeling unnecessary guilt, and truth be told Avery needed the break sometimes.
“There you are.” Sarah grinned at her, throwing an arm around her as she stepped out of the apartment building. Jemima winked at her and stubbed out her cigarette with the toe of her six inch yellow heels. At five ten with dark chocolate skin, unusual hazel eyes and a figure to die for, Jemima belonged to the world of modelling in New York City. She smoked because she swore it kept her skinny, but knowing how much Avery hated it (and everyone was taking it easy with Avery these days) she tried not to smoke around her.
“How you doin’, girl?” Jemima asked, rubbing a hand up and down her arm affectionately.
Despite perks such as Jemima not smoking in front of her, this is what Avery hated: everyone treating her differently because her aunt was dying. It had happened when she lost her parents and it was happening again. She forced a smile. “I’m all dressed up and ready to party.”
“You don’t say.” Sarah took a step back from her, her little sequined clutch purse winking in the cast of the street lights. “Josh is going to blow a gasket when he sees you in this get up.”
Rolling her eyes, Avery pulled on the hem of her black dress. “Is it too much?”
“Nuh-uh,” Jemima assured her, already moving off the sidewalk to flag down a cab. “Just enough, I’d say. With legs as short as yours you need all the help you can get.”
“Excuse me if some of us aren’t Amazonians.”
Jemima snorted in response.
Avery frowned as a cab pulled over and she shuffled into it with her friends. “Where are the guys?”
Sarah shrugged. “We’re meeting them at the club instead. So, your aunt’s still OK about these club nights?”
Avery smiled humourlessly. “She practically forces me into it.”
Jemima grunted from the other side of Sarah who was packed in between them. “Don’t need to sound so thrilled to be with us, girl.”
“You know that’s not what I meant.”
“Jammy is just teasing.” Sarah glared at Jemima, and the girl narrowed her exotic eyes on her.
“I told you to stop calling me Jammy.”
Sarah grinned unrepentantly and turned back to Avery. “So seriously, she’s OK?”
No, her aunt wasn’t OK. She wasn’t going to be OK ever again.
When Avery first found out about her aunt’s terminal diagnosis she was a freshman at NYU, studying journalism just like Aunt Caroline had. It had been a struggle for them to afford it anyway; Avery hadn’t moved out of their tiny one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, she was commuting. And she had a part time job at a coffee chain since they were one of the few corporate companies that Aunt Caroline didn’t have a problem with.
But after they found the cancer it became clear that Avery was going to have to work full time to take care of them. Aunt Caroline had health insurance but it only went so far; they’d had to use Avery’s small trust fund to pay the rest of the medical bills, but Caroline couldn’t work so there was no money for rent and food. Avery quit school and got a full time job as an office assistant at the Greener World Magazine. Aunt Caroline had worked for them forever and they were devastated for them both, so they had offered Avery a job and were really flexible if she couldn’t come to work when her aunt was having a particularly bad day.
Of course, her Aunt Caroline was riddled with guilt, thinking she had somehow destroyed her big sister’s little girl’s chance for a life. That’s why she insisted that Avery joined her friends at their favourite nightclub, 4.0, at least once a month. No matter how much she tried to tell her not to feel guilty, Avery knew her aunt couldn’t help it. And it was so stupid, considering her Aunt Caroline had given up her free and easy life to take care of Avery when her parents had died. That had been nine years ago when Avery was ten years old. Her mom and dad had taken her on vacation to Europe. They were going to London, then Paris and then onto Venice and then Berlin. They only made it to London. They hired a car and her dad had taken a stupid roundabout the wrong way and they ended up in a head on collision with a truck. Her parents were killed and she had barely survived. Aunt Caroline flew over from New York, saw her through her recovery, and brought her home to her tiny apartment, to the sofa in the living room that doubled as Avery’s bed. But Avery didn’t care about losing her pretty purple bedroom with the fairy lights and gauze bed netting that hung over her four poster making her feel like a princess. All she cared about was Aunt Caroline, her hero. Her hero who had understood that all Avery wanted was to be normal again; who had spent all her extra money on cool clothes so Avery fit in at school; had stretched Avery’s curfew so she could hang out with her friends and not be singled out for being a loser. Somehow only she understood that after months of people ‘pointing’ at the kid who’d lost her parents, all Avery needed was not to be noticed. She liked to blend. In fact, standing out made her physically afraid. And Caroline, who was the complete opposite, had never judged her for that.