"What?" I ask. Did she promise she would go somewhere with someone and now I have to go home alone? Did she just pick up a job and have to leave?
"I took some drugs already," she whines. "I'm sorry, Sugar! I thought I was going to find you and then you could take them too and we wouldn't be too far off, but that blue beast was talking to me and I didn't find you and I think I'm already like- fucked up."
Yeah, no shit, Lime. "It's okay," I say with a smile, and pat her shoulder. She starts shaking her head.
"It's not okay! Tonight was supposed to be like a special date and I already was selfish and blew it!"
"Please don't feel bad. I had some Moxi while I was outside," I admit. Although a few swigs of that jug hardly count for much in my opinion. But Lime lets out a huge cackle and kisses me.
"That green shit? You love that crap!" She laughs. She reaches down to find the other pills so that I can take my share. I haven't decided if I want to or not. These things have a bad reputation. But I've also read that old fashioned party drugs have a worse reputation than is justified. But maybe that was just some of them? I can't really remember.
"You are supposed to hold it under your tongue," Lime explains. "So that it can absorb directly into the vein under there. But it tastes really bad so it's okay if you'd rather just like, take it regular."
"Might as well do it right," I say. She smiles and hands it to me.
Under my tongue it doesn't taste like anything as first. But my saliva starts dissolving the thick round tablet and it starts to taste like pepper. It's not that bad though. She kissed me a second ago. I mean, it's not that big of a deal. But she hasn't kissed me in 4 months so I guess that's the only reason why I'm really thinking about it still. But she also kept calling this a "date." And she seemed sincere when she was upset that we didn't get to take the drugs together. But I think this stuff is supposed to make people extra affectionate. I thought it was the kind that made you space out and see the devil but I must have gotten them confused because clearly Lime is having a good time and still, like, in the same realm as the rest of us. I ask her, the best I can without the use of my tongue, to tell me more about this drug.
She confirms my vague memory about it making people feel more pleasure and enjoy being social. She tells a long story about how it was developed to medicate soldiers who had been psychologically injured by war and that it was a part of a group of drugs that were made illegal because of "The Great Drug War." Am I supposed to wait until it has dissolved into nothing? That's going to take forever. It hurts under there. Maybe I'm pressing it down too hard. I get impatient and take a long swig of water to wash the rest out of my mouth. The spot under my tongue certainly feels weird. Is that the first effects? Or is it just numb because I was holding that pill there for so long?
I ask Lime where she got her pants. She said she traded most of her dress for it. "I had to give them some CASH too. They wanted dollars though if you could believe it. They made them theirself and apparently sell them in a legitimate store. Oh and they told me that if anyone asked, to say I bought them from Dismantled. They showed me their other designs on their handheld but they weren't... Ah... they weren't that great. Lots of plastic tube dresses that go up past your head. That kind of thing."
How does she always end up getting what she wants out of people? That person probably made the pants by hand for this particular event. They were probably looking forward to wearing them for weeks.
"I'm surprised you got them to trade," I say, hoping she will say how she managed to do it, but she has apparently moved on. Lime tells me that she wants to tell me about J soon.
"Not right now because I am in too good of a mood but I really want to tell you."
I ask her what she's talking about.
"He has just been really awful and I feel like... I feel like you should know, Sugar. I feel like I should tell you. Like it's the right thing to do to take care of myself. But not right now. Let's just enjoy the night. I can't remember the last time we just had fun together and I feel like right now is the moment that we can have fun together again, you know?" She is squeezing my hands. "Like right now is the moment for us." Her eyes are big and black. "And I just want it to last as long as I can." It's dark in here but they look different. "I don't want to think about J. That moment is not here right now, you know?" She looks like she is going to kiss me again. But she doesn't. She is frozen, waiting for me to answer.
"Yeah," I say. "Let's just be us right now." I hope she knows what I mean. She hugs me. My hands feel different. They are tingling but not like they are numb or falling asleep. They feel like they are waking up. She lets go of me and I rub my hands together and try to describe the feeling to her.
"Yeah," she says. "We should go listen to the music." We head back into the crowd. The lights are moving differently now. Just as fast but with long tails like comets. It looks like every light is sailing through the thick air. But it is so easy to breathe. I take deep breath after breath and pull the powerful air inside myself. It was the Air Elemental that helped me break through the veil of distraction and understand the spirits after years of meaningless sounds. Years of working to decode the sounds through a dense fog of confusion and false leads. But once I took the Air Elemental, the fog dissipated and I could see and hear straight through to the truth that the spirits were expelling. Ever since, I've known that the air holds knowledge that we can't see with our eyes. Sometimes when I breathe deep, I can almost taste it again. But it isn't the kind of thing you can get to on your own. Our minds are busy and distracted by surviving the way humans do. We need outside help to release ourselves from those nets that we get stuck in.
Lime pulls my hips to hers and closes her eyes. I am being pulled away from the air and back into the net of this party. The dark forms of people move and laugh all around me. They are pumping their arms in the air and swinging their heads back and forth. One person is bouncing furiously in place and blowing through a whistle. I try to take another deep breath. Does this drug open the air too? Obviously that's not what it's for but I guess it does anyway. At first I am annoyed that I can't just breathe the air like I want to. At first I want to go somewhere quiet and controlled. But tonight is different. I realize it's easy to let go. I can feel myself falling away from myself, and that I'm not afraid of the darkness around us. A nearby dancer turns and looks into my eyes and smiles.
I smile back.
They nod to me and I nod back.
I look at Lime. Her arms are moving back and forth, her hands gliding through the air, her elbows following like twin stars locked in a gravitational swing. I try to replicate her movement. She catches me and grabs my hands. We continue to move. It feels so easy. How did she feel so far away before? It is so easy to touch her. To have her touch me. It feels like the past has come back to us and everything is fine and she is here with me again.
"Right now is the moment for us," I repeat back to Lime. Her eyes open and she smiles wider and wider.
"Yes!" she calls and wraps both of her arms around me. "Yes! Yes! I'm so glad that you understand!"
"I do understand," I say to her. "I really do understand." My heart is falling into her, trying to grasp her with all of my body. "I really do understand," I repeat, louder through the music. I hope she really hears me. I hope she really trusts me to mean it and to know. "I want you to know that I know," I try to tell her. She just nods her head and sways me back and forth. I feel like my chest is reaching through hers. That there is nothing between us but a deep heavy ocean surging churning her blood and mine. The Music stops for a couple beats and we hear a familiar voice soaring over the crowd. It feels like everyone is reaching up to sing along. I don't know the words but everyone else is looking at each other and singing, smiling, making faces. Lime is leaping up and pumping her arm to the beat. The song is so familiar- what is it? Maybe I heard other DJs sampling it before. Suddenly the music grinds down to a heavy beat and everyone is moving furiously. It feels really hot but the air is still clear. I try to look at people moving past me. It looks like they aren't wearing clothes, but I can still see their clothes. Someone comes by spinning lights in their hands. Cyan and pink comets chase each other around their arms, waist, chest. There is a faint glow that passes their face and I see that they are calm and breathing slowly.
The MC starts reciting a history lesson for the crowd. I can't make out a word they are saying but the crowd is reacting like they are speaking through a crystal in a quiet room. Lime is laughing and tells me that she can't believe how many other nerds there are here. She has to tell me twice before I can hear her. I don't know what she thinks is so funny. This is exactly the same music she listens to at her apartment and everyone she talks to online does too and there are tens of thousands of them. Why shouldn't they be here tonight too? But she seems genuinely surprised. It must be nice to feel that way. That the people you talk to online are real and all around you and you can actually do real things with them. That must be why she has been wanting to talk to people tonight.
We dance for so long and I am thrilled when I see that Gas Mask person moving though the crowd to hand out more water. It's just a matter of time before I desperately need to find a bathroom. Lime agrees to go and we start moving through the crowd. We pass by a group of people sitting against giant speakers while a few people dance with lights in front of them. I bet that speaker feels really good. I feel like I can feel it from here, vibrating low.