The rave is loaded and I struggle through each room packed with ravers. It's a lot harder to see everyone this time through it. A multi-room party makes it even more likely to get stuck looking for someone for hours. Did she switch rooms while I was looking for her? I shouldn't have acted like I trusted her to meet me outside. I should have just told her to stay in the same place.
But I find her upstairs on the edge of the dance floor. She is chewing on something and listening to a blue fluffy monster with big black shiny eyes. Lime is saying that it is in the moments of understanding with someone that you can break through the mask of isolation and know that we are connected to each other. She believes that there is a universal soul and that we spend our whole lives trying to get away from it and redefine ourselves away from it, but we are just running from the truth. And the truth is right here, inside us, if we look. And if we look, we'll see everyone and everything else. The monster is nodding and Lime's eyes are locked on them in excitement. I feel nauseous.
"Decided not to meet me outside after all?" I blurt out behind her. She spins around and falls into me with a hug, like we are haven't seen each other in years. I am saturated in her sweat.
"I'm so happy you are here!" she squeals and squishes my face between her long hands. She waves goodbye to the monster and pulls me out to the dance floor. She holds me in a tight embrace, swaying back and forth before bursting away to jump up and down, swinging her head wildly. Her braids fling around in a spiraling aura, and my face gets whacked with them within moments. I pull her back to me before she whacks someone else. She throws her arms over my shoulder and bobs back and forth on one foot, then the other. She is telling me something that I can't hear and laughing.
The beat looms over and we slowly feel its weight dragging on our movements until the music flows up and breaks and, with it, we are drawn back up and fall free. My shoulders relax again and I roll them down my arms to my hands, releasing more and more magic into the air from my palms. The room is steamy hot and the air is think with power. Lime faces the ceiling and opens her mouth, sucking it in, and hurls it back out though a howl. I dance with her until I'm thirsty and tired. I shout through the music that we should get a drink. She agrees to get one together but on our way off the dance floor, she keeps getting distracted by people. Then a new movement in the music happens that she needs to dance to. And after that, she has to go watch some glowing jewelry and spinning lights. I have to remind her over and over we need to go to the third floor to get a drink. The DJ samples a song she recognizes and we are back on the dance floor.
I manage to get her to the bar and ask her to order us some drinks. She gets two glowing sodas and hands me the pink one, keeping the cyan one for herself. The soda tastes like crystal candy flavoring and synthdka. We both suck them down to nothing, leaving a pile of ice cubes in our cups. Lime crunches through an ice cube and tells me about how she always wanted to go to the mountains together, that it's so beautiful and you can swim in hot water even though it's cold outside. She tells me how beautiful the snow is. That it is soft, but it can be hard as ice. "It's just beautiful," she keeps saying.
She sticks her hand into her cup and pulls out an ice cube and pushes it against her arm. The mesh of her sleeve loses sparkle as she drenches it. "What are you doing?" I ask. She looks at me and asks if I want some ice. "No thank you." I try to smile at her, but I'm getting more and more nervous that she is going to do something humiliating. No one around us seems to be looking. I hate that I'm worried she will do something embarrassing. It didn't used to be like this. Maybe I was too fucked up to notice before. I'm trying to not be resentful that she's enjoying these old fashioned drugs so much. But it's weird, and the thought they make people do strange things is mortifying. She continues to tell me about how much fun we would have in the mountains and how I really need to go with her. That we should plan a trip to go and that life is too short and we need to enjoy it together. She's never invited me on a trip before. She always made it sound like she was going with J because he was making her and when she got back, she would list all the reasons why it was miserable. I had no idea that she ever had a good time there. And I certainly never thought she would want me there with her. But she seems so convinced right now, it's almost sad. Did she forget about all the things that went wrong? How they were always bored, waiting for everyone and then once they finally got to do something it was stressful and everyone argued? I feel like I'm hearing about a completely different place now. And the longer she talks about it, the more annoyed I get.
I can't stand it anymore and I tell her, "You don't really want to take me on a trip with you," shaking my head.
"Of course I do!" she whines. "It always felt impossible to ask. It's hard, Sugar. You are so distant. You have all these other things in your life and I have to work so hard for your attention, it's always been like that."
My heart sinks into my stomach. Is that true? Do I say things that alienate her? I'm always available to do anything she suggests. I never say no when she wants me around. What do I do to make her feel like that? I feel terrible.
"I'm sorry. Do you really want to go somewhere together?" I ask.
"Of course I do!" she repeats.
A raver wearing a yellow jumpsuit and blue gas mask hands me a water bottle. Lime takes one too and shakes it up by her eyes. She starts explaining how people used to drink too much water in the early 2000s and there were reports of young people drowning themselves. The water bottle felt short with a round end oozing into a smaller round top. The words AQUA.NET shine embossed across the middle.
"I don't think this is mineralized..." she starts. "I mean they were just giving it away so probably not." I can still see the yellow jumpsuit moving through the crowd. There is a huge clear pack on their back filled with bottles. Are they just trying to promote their brand? Sometimes people will make props for these types of theme parties to give away. People with too much money that can have stupid novelty crap made at a moments notice just so they might make a friend in the underground for an evening. But that one didn't stop to talk, and was wearing a mask. Probably just an ad for their website.
"I have to make a confession." Lime suddenly looks very serious and is covering her mouth with her hands.