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A feeling ebbs down deep into my gut, a daunting quiver as the flare from the cinema screen illuminates the fear in my eyes and the inability to sit still. It's just a film, I tell myself, trying to ignore the clear cowardice running through my veins. It's just a film. I sink lower and lower into my seat, the build-up, the tension, the lack of music. The silence and the stillness in the area.
It's just a film.
But then it's loud, and it's screaming and it's my bloody worst nightmare! I'm gripping onto the arms of the seat, close to tearing them out of their seams. "I can't watch!" I pathetically bury my head into the seat next to me and I cower. I'm pathetic. It's just a film, snap out of it!
A soft hand tugs at my face, and it's pulled through a flourish of hair, texture like candy floss. I'm slowly pulled into the crook of a neck, skin soft and smelling like strawberry ice cream. "It's okay," she says. "I'll tell you when it's over."
I'm tense, and I don't really know how to react as she wraps an arm over my shoulders, holding me in her embrace firmly. I can remember that feeling in my chest, the thumping of my heart...
There are fields of brown barren land around us and dead grass crunches beneath our feet as we walk. It's a different girl ahead of me. A different voice that's making quips about political matters and such, subjects I find myself not so intellectually interested in at the time but nodding along anyway. She's challenging the world, so intelligent, so defiant. She's going to fight for any and every political movement going.
She turns to me and smiles, perfect teeth glistening betwixt velvet painted lips. "Let's go in here."
She takes my gloved hand, firmly pulling me through a busier section of the area. We dodge dead branches and scare away jittery wildlife. We come into a closing and she looks around the area. It's darker. We're closed in. It's private. No one could know we're in here.
"What do you think? Perfect for a horror movie, right?" She looks to me excitably, seeking a second opinion. I think she may have forgotten that our hands were tied together. Yet, it's the only thing I can think about -I can't stop thinking about it. She slowly releases it, taking out her camera and starting to frame up potential shots for our film class. I hold my hands together in front of me and simply watch her.
"Perfect," I tell her.
The trees fall away, replaced by drunk British students damaging their livers and dancing like they're hot shit. There's a firm, 'thump, thump, thump, thump' that shakes the floor, encouraging those who stand upon it to dance and move and jiggle. Not dissimilar to when you shake a plate with jelly on to watch the gelatinous wobble. Young adults are doing the 'Gelatinous Wobble'. Scantily dressed cats are grinding on Jigsaw and Shaun of the Dead whilst spilling their red-label drinks over exposed cleavage. Typical Halloween.
I stand there accustomed with goatee and Arc Reactor, pondering to myself how Tony Stark at this point would be getting elbow deep in said jiggling. But then reasoning I was being just as much in character by drinking another sip from my red solo cup. The 'Gelatinous Wobble' was a move I was less accustomed to, favouring much more to do the 'stepping left and right while singing the lyrics out of tune' move.
But then I become distracted, a friend I've known for only a month or so approaches to start a conversation. Alice is missing from Wonderland it seems, since she's suddenly at my side, offering the widest of smiles. She's good company. Funny. Incredibly pretty. It's not until the Cha-Cha slide comes on that she hurriedly downs the rest of her drink and grabs my hand, rushing me onto the dance floor to join her. I stumble behind her, some of my vodka-coke being lost to the sticky dance floor. I don't mind, though. I don't mind it for her. We laugh and we smile, and the night moves by in a fun drunken blur. It leads to us being stood outside in the smoking area, neither of us in possession of a cigarette but rather now being in possession of our ears, finally able to hear one another. We are beaming and laughing and connecting. We can't stop smiling at one another, sharing the glow of a decent night out.
"I'm starting to freeze my tits off," she says with a chuckle, tilting her head in my direction as she crosses her arms over her apron-adorned chest. "Can I get you another drink? Or a shot maybe?"
I feel a faster pace in my chest. I know it's not from the thumping of the dance floor, nor the influence of the alcohol. It's something else. I give a toothy grin and nod gently. "Yeah, that sounds good."
All the people clear away. The music dies down. It's simply me and, once again, a different woman. We have spent the evening chatting over drinks, laughing and talking utter crap. It's an empty street, littered with bin bags from the surrounding (now closed) shops and she wears my jacket over her shoulders. We are on a splintered bench, an empty beer bottle dripping at our feet and I can feel the evening drawing to a close as she discusses in heated argument her opinion on olives.
She dislikes them. I'm not sure why I decided to rile her up, I dislike olives too. But I did. I'm happy that I did. I watch as she talks about the ones with seeds still in, a slightly inebriated smile on my face as I watch her. I keep on running the next sentence over in my head (knowing how unbelievably corny it was probably going to become) but as she finishes her rant with a huff, it comes out.
"Okay, but can I ask for just one more opinion on something?"
She looks to me, an eyebrow raised. And then I lean in. Our lips connect, and they linger, and she leans in more. My hand is coming up to cup her cheek, and her hand rests at my hip, and after three dates, we have our first kiss.
My heart thumps, my smile is unshakable, I feel like a giddy child. She pulls back and looks at me for a moment, before smiling and nodding softly. "...Mhm. I agree."
There's an imperfect perfection to each of these destinations. For it is not in the location that matters. Floral flourishes and grand architecture may leave me breathless, but none can leave me quite so close to death than the presence of a beautiful soul.
My perfect destination is the trembling cinema where I was held, the empty woods where my hand was taken, the enclosed club where Alice made me fall, the near-broken bench where I kissed my date, and the single bed in my student dorm where I drunkenly spooned her while we watched drag queens compete.
My perfect destination lies over an array of various locations. For my perfect destinations lay within all the places I've fallen in love.