“Do you think it's...me?” I asked, twisting in front of the mirror to smooth down my dress. I caught Helen’s eye roll.
“Honey, you're drop dead gorgeous,” she said, crossing her arms. She was wearing a light periwinkle dress that went to her knees and knee-high lace-up boots. I was wearing a slitted blue dress that fell to my ankles and silver sandals.
“Yeah...but-” I started, but Helen handed me a silver mask, effectively silencing my weak protests.
“You haven’t been to a club since Will died. I think he’d want you to have fun. Enjoy yourself,” Helen said. I sighed into the mirror, fixing the silver mask over my hazel eyes.
“It’s just...I don’t want to interact with people,” I confessed. A weird wheezing noise came from Helen and it took me a panicked moment to realize she was laughing.
“Ah, you’ve really not changed since high school, Zoey,” she laughed. I rolled my eyes.
“And Will never complained,” I retorted, adjusting the material over my chest. She smacked my hands away and tugged the neckline down. “Helen!” I gasped, scandalized.
“You’re a single lady. Show off the girls,” she demanded. I sighed.
“I’m a widow, I’m not looking to get laid,” I said. She smacked me again, this time on the rear.
“But I am. So don’t deny me a shot, understood?” she expressed, poking me. I squirmed away from her.
“Alright, alright,” I reassured her. She beamed.
“Then let’s go!” Helen cried, tearing out of the room. I took one more look in the mirror, smoothing down imaginary wrinkles and altogether delaying the inevitable. Helen poked her head back in. “Um...that meant now,” she snarked. I sighed and walked out after her.
The place Helen had chosen for tonight was a nightclub. The Vienna Alteria to be precise. Bustling with high-end people, the club had a long line snaking around the end of the block, and two gargantuan bouncers were standing near the entrance.
Helen and I pulled up in a taxi and got out, surveying the crowd. Loud music blasted from the club every time either bouncer opened the door. Pink smoke wreathed through the crowd, no doubt coming from the club. The Vienna Alteria was tall, smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, with thirty stories of pure...clubby-ness. The best place for me to restart my party days after Will died.
I glared at Helen.
“This is what I have to do?” I demanded. She shrugged at me.
“Go big or go home,” she replied. I turned around to the taxi.
“Going home it is,” I retorted. She grabbed my arm just as I was about to open the door and the cab driver took off in a cloud of fuel. I coughed, turning my face away from the noxious fumes. “Really?” I scowled once I regained the semi-important function known as breathing. She tugged me toward the club.
“Like it or not, we’re going in, Zoey,” she insisted.
“Not,” I proclaimed. She finally snapped.
“Arizona. Renée. Blackwood. You are going into that club. Right. Now. We’re going to have a nice party, possibly get laid, and have fun, goddammit,” she shouted. I blinked and turned to the crowd of people who were watching us, amused.
“Aright, alright,” I sighed. “You’re making a scene.” Helen eyed me, still suspicious, but turned to the line.
“Come on,” she says, tugging me toward the bouncers. I have no choice but to follow.
“You’re missing the line,” I said, but it falls on deaf ears. The people in line, all dressed in skimpier clothes than I am, but all masked as that’s the club’s one rule, grumble at us as we pass them. We arrived at the front of the line and the two bouncers eyed us.
“Ticket?” one grunted and like magic, Helen produced two silver tickets from her pale pink clutch. The one on the right took them from her and studied them. Then he grunted again.
“Back of the line,” he said. Helen, however, was not deterred.
“Look at the back of the ticket,” she insisted, and the bouncer, with rolled eyes, did so. What he saw made his eyes widened slightly before he pulled the rope across and motioned for us to enter.
“Have fun ladies,” he said with a slightly contrite expression. I grabbed for the tickets as I passed and turned them over. A silver ‘V’ was engraved in gold on the back. Helen’s hand clenched mine as she pulled me into the club, and all questions about whatever had just happened flew out of my mind as I took in the Vienna.
The club was electric tonight, everyone feeding off of the smiles and fast dancing. No one can see the dance floor, it's wall to wall people dancing to the club music. Helen squeals, a sound that I shouldn’t be able to hear over the pulsing music, but still somehow do. There's no room for any more on the dance floor, but somehow when Helen and I hit it, space magically comes.
The music is all the latest raves, but we're dancing like it's jive, twisting, turning, holding hands as we change sides. We're all grins, we look like idiots and we don't care. Inside we're just happy, happy, and more alive than we had ever been. I feel the part of me that's really me, come out to play for the first time since Will’s died. It wants me to feel the vibe of the music and let my body go free. One moment, one brilliant feeling of togetherness suspended in time. In ten years I'll still remember tonight, I love the quiet life but I secretly find myself relishing the crazy fun times. Music, my best friend, good times, and dancing.
I could go like this all night long, feet moving to the crazy beat like they belong to the music. I moved in my dress like my hips were made to sway, the sequins catching the disco ball light that twirls above - launching every shade of the rainbow into the darkness.
I find myself clubbing like this is my last night on Earth, but I think that's just the way my mind avoided thinking about the hangover to come. Helen kept handing me glasses, and I gulped down the alcohol like it’s water. The music moved me like I was a puppet on strings, my head mashing so hard my brain is in shut down mode. There's so much sweat on my skin and not all of it's mine. The strobe masked so many of my movements, every clap of my hands, like it's on pause at different moments. Tomorrow there will be hell to pay, but tonight the alcohol kept on flowing in like it was an IV drip.
“Zoey!” Helen shouted, and I turned to face her, stumbling slightly. She motioned to a guy next to her. “I’m going to his,” she said. I studied him and found no apparent faults. I shrugged at her.
“Have fun,” I told her, and she beamed as she followed him off the dance floor. I watched her go to make sure she was safe, then returned to my dancing.
Everything was a haze after that. In the dark of the club, all I had seen was his high cheekbones and mischievous eyes. He danced like no one was watching, but of course, they all were. He just had not cared. We had jived and boogied to the hot music like it was thirty years previously, every move a throwback to an era that had belonged to our grandparents. At the end of the night, we had burst through the doors into the artificial glow of street lamps, staggering, failing to hail a taxi.
In the charcoal of almost dawn, we had arrived at my apartment and fallen into bed; asleep before we had time to get frisky, or at least I think that was what happened. In the late morning sunlight that streams through the blinds as if they were not really there at all, I could see his face bearing the pock-marks of teenage acne. There was still some pinkness to it from the scars. Otherwise, he was tanned, but I suspected it was natural rather than sun-induced. With that black hair, he had a Greek look. Before I could fix myself up, his eyes cracked open, and he smiled at me.
“Good morning gorgeous.”