Words by Kyara, 22 VIC
I’m eight hours away from home at a festival celebrating the city of Adelaide’s 60th birthday. Crowds mill about, taking in the art displays and the food vans in the street. It’s easy to lose yourself in a crowd like this, and I love it. I don’t have to be anyone or do anything; there’s no expectations other than being in the night.
There’s a girl in the crowd handing out fliers on roller skates. She’s giving off ‘80s vibes with vivid coloured clothes and effortless skating like something out of Xanadu. Better yet, her hair is pink. Magenta bright and a little choppy, a little punk, a little rock’n’roll, a lotta cute.
Having pink hair myself, I feel an instant connection.
Mine is paler, more like fairy floss, but the solidarity’s still there.
We bold-hair buddies gotta support each other.
I’m trying to mind my own business, appreciate the festivities, take in the nightlife of a city unfamiliar to me. But my eyes keep wandering. She’s not the only roller girl moving through the crowd. There’s a handful, giving out A5 slips of paper. I can only guess it has something to do with roller skating. A roller derby promotion maybe?
Suddenly, she’s gliding this way. Magenta’s got a great smile. She comes to a stop beside me, brandishing elbow-pads and confidence. It might just be me, but she feels awfully close. I could bump her with my hip if I move a fraction closer. Likely, I’m projecting. But it’s nice to think I caught a stranger’s eye too.
“Hey, you look like someone who’d be interested in roller derbies.” She passes me a flier. It’s purple, with big white writing and a cartoon girl in a pink helmet with warpaint staring someone down. The date displayed is for three weeks from now.
“Ah, I’ve definitely wanted to check it out. What’s cooler than girls on skates? I’m not from here though.” I hold the paper awkwardly, wondering if she’ll take it back.
I’m sure I’m imagining her look of disappointment as she asks how long I’ll be in town. Of course, I’m leaving tomorrow. That’s always the way, isn’t it? Still, Magenta keeps talking to me and doesn’t take the flier back.
“What brings you here?”
A lot of things, catching up with friends, a writing festival, a concert, just needing to get away. What brings anyone anywhere?
There’s a bit of back and forward, she tells me more about roller derby, and amazingly she’s aware of my hometown. Apparently, Ballarat has a pretty successful squad. I mean, I knew it was a thing, but I never knew how widespread it was. Maybe I should check it out, and not just because a cute girl is telling me about it. It genuinely sounds pretty cool. As does Magenta.
If you can believe this narrator to be reliable, I’d say we’re flirting. Just innocuous words building a flush in my cheeks. It’d be so easy to spend a night in a city far from home with a beautiful stranger, grabbing a drink or something to eat for a start. Millions of stories exist around this premise. No stress, no ties, just pink-haired girls in the night.
But that won’t happen, and not just because I’m a little awkward. I’ve bumbled my way into hearts before; some people find my flustered attempts to entice charming.
But tonight, I’m not alone – my parents are approaching. I love them dearly, and I’m thrilled to have a relationship with them that allows us to travel together, but there is nothing quite like being cockblocked by your folks. (Is it still cockblocking if it’s two girls involved?) Maybe it’s better this way, truly harmless and fleeting.
Not long after, we part ways and I’ll never see Magenta again. But I fell in love for a moment. Just a moment and it passed just as quickly. One day I’ll probably forget it ever happened.
And yet, the empty fantasy still has me grinning.