A short story I wrote for Yellow Door Storytellers, a storytelling night taking place at Natural Born Philosopher, London.
‘It’s beautiful isn’t it?’ Charlotte whispers to me.
She’s right, it is. Nothing has even happened, at least not down there, not officially, yet my heart is ready to burst at the wonder of it all. Hills covered in multi coloured tents, like someone has shook Skittles all over the fields, roll down to a valley of lights, speakers, stages and rigging all prepared for what can only be described as a massive epiphany. The toilets don’t smell yet, the ground is still firm, and our beer is still vaguely cold. The lull of anticipation feels so peaceful, but soon we’ll be bounding with naked hippies, dancing with ten foot tall animals, throwing ourselves into shapes with drugged up revellers, healed by bearded yogis, and suspending ourselves in the inexplicable and bewitching space opened up as the earth tilts on its axis and a million little drops of magic collide in a field somewhere in the shire of England.
‘It’s hard to imagine that only a few days ago there were cows mooing right here.’
The landscape spills out, neat hedges making tessellating squares, grid like on the countryside under the milky guaze of moonlight. The night has an oneiric quality, at once perfect and sad, perhaps as I know that deep down this moment doesn’t last.
It feels sort of nice to not be talking right now, as we’ve been talking, like really talking, all night. There’s something about the night air that always makes me more verbose than usual, and on a June evening in Somerset, on the eve of something great, words spill from my lips like a rushing tap unquelled.
My blue jeans stretch at my thighs pulled up close to my chest as the air cools, and I wrap one arm around Charlotte to keep her warm, as I raise another to take a swig. It was empty, and I tossed it to the side before picking up another. The hiss of the can opening mingles into the hum on the hill whilst the breeze rustles in the trees trying to get comfortable.
A few thousand people are sat in twos, threes, tens, discussing music, love, and life in its all its vicissitudes. Flames flicker and make the cheeks glow even more. It’s funny how this is often my festival highlight, sitting on the hill and waiting for the sun. No music, no art, no entertainment – none of this has even begun. People are sat in jeans and jumpers, not neon, crazy hats or fancy dress. A bud before its crescendo, a blank canvas waiting for magic to begin. The sunset is a gorgeous blur of pinks, oranges, flaming reds swirling across the sky, evaporating into the night, and its rise promises to be just as stunning.
Charlotte and I have both been here before, numerous times – well, four for me, but she can’t remember if it’s five or six for her – and this is our first time together. We’d sat at the computer for hours, bashing away, getting jitters in our stomachs as we waited in line for tickets. I was so happy when we did, partly because I love the festival, and partly because my left leg was going dead under Charlotte’s weight.
She looks up at me, her curls falling down her shoulders, and her eyes weary. It was her eyes that first caught me that night, at Sarah’s birthday party, then the disarming curve of her smile, before she finally danced me into loving her whilst the indie pop melodies faded into the background. The arms that waved sporadically and randomly, no conscious thought but just excited energy, a fission bursting forth her. She twirled like a child playing ballerinas, having never lost that sense of wonder, before shimmying her hips as the waistband of her jeans slipped to reveal black lace. A glazed look went over her eyes as she looked to the floor, lost in the moment. I was lost in her.
I couldn’t wait to see those moves again, accompanied by the shivering reverb of guitars and thrashing of drums, in a field of collective effervescence. An expansive flurry of emotion from the music heightened by booze and drugs could be a wondrous thing, especially in the company of Charlotte.
An eyelash became loose and I brushed it from her nose.
The blackness of the sky starts to dissipate out, waiting for daytime to announce its arrival. Creeping in swathes of light, whirling like a disc of anticipation, before its announcement like a crashing cymbal.
‘Shall we go get some rest?’ I ask.
‘Or you could kiss me.’ She says, a pretend coyness about her.
I lean in and kiss her, just me and Charlotte in this moment. I can’t wait for the festival to properly begin, but I want to stay here, right now, forever. Tomorrow it will seem as though every song is about us, beams of discourse through the melodies, but now, in the near silence, it really is about us.
As we get up and walk back towards the blue peak of our tent, in amongst hundreds of other blue peaks, I pull my phone out of my pocket and tap out an email to work.
‘Awful migraine and fever. Won’t be in for a few days. So sorry. Paul.’
Glastonbury will be our secret.