Once again, Impact Arts’ Esther takes a Shakespearean tale and transforms it for the twenty-first century. This time, the turn of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The music reverberated through the dimly lit room. The floor was buzzing and vaguely sticky with the remnants of party goers sloshing their £2.50 “cocktails” onto the floor.

Tatiana reviewed the room with an arched brow from the heavens. One hand clasped around the iron railing whilst the other held a Disaronno and Coke as she watched the youthful first years gyrate against each other in pure ecstasy.

A figure slipped beside her and she turned ready with wit and her sharp heels to fend off the unwanted encroacher.

She let out a sigh of relief and annoyance when she saw her fellow society leader Oberon smirking back at her.

“Having fun?” he asked, attempting to slide a hand around her waist which she artfully dodged.

“Hmmm… I fail to understand how people enjoy being stuck in a sweaty room till morning”, she answered coolly, flipping her midnight blue hair over a shoulder nonchalantly. The glitter in it caught the light, and she glowed faintly amongst the sea of silhouetted figures.

Oberon swayed beside her to the music, following her gaze as it alighted on a figure in the crowd below.

Tall, tanned and hunky – his specific features were unclear, but the hunger in Tatiana’s emerald eyes was evident.

“New victim?” He cooed over the din of Sia’s “Cheap Thrills”.

She ignored his remark, swerving expertly through the drunk dancers until she found him. People gravitated towards her as though they somehow innately knew that she was Queen Bee.

That’s when she found him. She honestly wasn’t sure if he was a mirage or not, just that she was hypnotised by his icy blue eyes.

She looked up at him from under her veil of thick lashes with a sultry expression. He returned her look eagerly and with a smirk they began dancing together, the sexual tension rising by the second.

Suddenly another body joined theirs – she turned in surprise, wondering which girl would have the nerve to stand up to her. She was sorely disappointed when she saw Oberon looking back at her.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked in shock. He was seriously becoming a nuisance.

“Tom needs you, he’s contesting his forfeit”, he shrugged innocently. She glared at him before then turning and wielding her usual charm, holding her dance partner there in a trance-like state.

She marched to the bar with all the gravity of someone about to give a death sentence. When she got there, she could see a guy dressed in a donkey costume trying to chat up girls.

And failing.

Horribly.

“Fancy a nice piece of ass?” he asked one girl, nudging her with his arm. She threw him a dirty look and stormed off.

“How am I supposed to pull with this thing?” he complained to no one in particular, going to take his head piece off. He changed his mind when he saw Tatiana coming towards him.

“Get creative. Just remember that if you don’t you can kiss that membership goodbye. After all we want charm not just looks.” With that she winked at the bartender as he poured her another drink and walked off, the crowds parting for her like the Red Sea.

“Yes ma’am”, he mumbled under his breath, wondering how he was going to pull it off.

She was instantly absorbed back into the crowd and sought out her latest conquest. But he wasn’t where she had last put him. She half turned and searched, her teeth gritted at his audacity when she came upon an alarming spectacle.

Her dance partner was locked in a passionate embrace rooted up the wall of the club. She strode forward, fuelled by her rage to find out who had outdone her. It was then that the other figure came up for air and half turning smirked back at her.

It was none other than Oberon looking marvellously pleased with himself.

He mockingly blew a kiss at her before getting down and dirty again.

She downed the remainder of her glass and with pure rage chucked it at the space of wall beside them. It smashed into a million pieces, causing the couple to abruptly spring apart as she stormed off without a backward glance.

“She hates being second place”, Oberon explained triumphantly.

*

She slowly and carefully ran the mascara brush through her long lashes and reviewed her image in the vanity.  She was met with her unruly blonde locks that no matter which way she arranged them never quite fell the way she liked. This and her dark smoky makeup that she could see turning into panda eyes as the night progressed.

It had been Hazel’s idea – her makeup was usually a lot softer, but her friend had convinced her otherwise.

The same went for her outfit. Rather than the delicate silver number that she had originally chosen, Hazel’s rash confidence had sweet talked her into squeezing herself into one of her friend’s red corseted crop tops and a black mini skirt.

She slicked on some red lipstick and gave herself a once over. Not bad, she thought to herself and smiled a little. It felt unnatural, but for that night only she could be a chameleon, she could mimic Hazel’s eccentricity. She just needed to catch Dean’s attention.

Her door slammed open and an energetic Hazel launched herself into the room.

“Are you read-dy?” she slurred; Heather couldn’t help but feel her heart sink when her gaze fell on her best friend.

Heather’s own eyes darted back to her own reflection for a final time. She had a premonition that her efforts had already been thwarted and they hadn’t even reached the club yet.

*

They arrived at the club and somehow managed to get to the front of the queue in seconds without anyone challenging them. Soon they were in the mix of things, thrown to the dogs with multiple unidentifiable hands pushing and groping them as they fought their way through.

She glanced over and saw Hazel crushed up against a guy, with some very annoyed brunette trying to squirm her way back in there.

Good luck with that, Heather thought bitterly and headed to the bar.

 “What can I get you?” the bartender asked.

“The strongest stuff you have”, she answered in a bored tone, barely glancing up.

A glass of mysterious liquid was placed in front of her which she downed in a single go.

She stared out across the crowd and spotted Dean, her heart skipped, and she started to head towards him before being abruptly stopped in her tracks.

Oh no, she thought.

Oh no, oh no, oh no.

She wanted the floor to swallow her up as she saw Hazel dancing between two guys. One of them she recognised from a moment ago, Lucian – she knew his name because Hazel had told her she was going to pull him tonight.

The other guy…. Well, that was a whole other story. She could recognise those light blonde locks and blue eyes anywhere. Those hands which had once helped her up when she had toppled down the stairs at the club last Friday. Well, now they were now greedily groping her best friend.

She sat back down at the bar, defeated. Hazel had known that she had liked him. Maybe that was why she did it, to one up her. She felt fake, like a bad impersonator as she thought of how ridiculous she must have looked.

She looked up to ask for another drink and was suddenly struck by how good looking the bartender was.

“What’s with the puppy dog eyes?” he asked with a mischievous grin. He had spiky black hair and large amber eyes. He looked ethereal and dangerous and just what she needed at that moment.

“I just saw my best friend making out with the guy I liked.” Her tone was blunt and she felt a terrifying numbness spreading through her with alarming speed.

“Clearly not a good friend… or a good guy,” he raised an eyebrow at her as he wiped down a glass. He put it down, “I say ditch them and enjoy yourself. You’re obviously way out of his league anyway.”

She nodded slowly, feeling very taken aback by such a compliment from a stranger. Suddenly, and without any warning she leant across the counter, grabbed him by the collar and made out with him.

“Sorry about that,” she said blushing when they finally broke apart.

“Don’t apologise, believe me I enjoyed every moment of it.” He winked at her and she went an even deeper shade of red.

“My name’s Heather by the way.”

“Puck.” He responded, pointing to his name tag. And so it was – she couldn’t help but burst out laughing at that. She could see the resemblance to the famous Shakespearean trickster in his elfish features and the mischievous glint in his eyes.

She caught his eye and stopped laughing, the numbness had ceased and she was unaware of anything other than how natural it felt to be with him.

“Listen, I’d hate to be forward but my shift’s about to end. I’m not suggesting a one night stand or anything – but if you want me to walk you home and give me your number maybe we could arrange to go out?” He seemed nervous as he said it, his eyes fixed to the floor unable to meet her gaze.

“Sure”, she answered, a smile tickling at the edges of her mouth, as she tried hard to play it cool. She hopped off the barstool and they walked out the club.

They stopped at the cloakroom to grab her coat, and she couldn’t help but laugh as she saw the head of the Alternative Music Society making out with a guy dressed in a donkey costume. It was even funnier when she saw the Vice President, Oberon, recording it all on his phone.

I bet she’ll regret that tomorrow, she couldn’t help but think.

*

Tatiana woke the next day with a pounding headache and a dry throat, indicating that she had gotten very carried away the previous night.

She groaned and rolled over, groping for the covers. But instead her hands found something else.

It was human.

And it was naked.

Her eyes snapped open and she came face to face with a naked man wearing nothing but a donkey head piece, half turned lying beside her with his hands on his hips.

She couldn’t see his face but she could tell he wore a smug expression.

“Morning darling. Looks like I went above and beyond our bet, we were up all night playing a cheeky game of buckaroo!”

“Puck my life”, she grumbled, pulling the sheets back over her head.

Esther Kearney

Image credit: Bruce Turner via Flickr

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