Exhilaration swelled within Simone as she crossed the parking lot and sensed the almost electric excitement that seemed to vibrate the very air around her. It was more than the deep bass that pulsed rhythmically through the pavement beneath her feet and made its way all the way up through the soles of her shoes and inside of her. It was more than the song, although she realized as she drew closer to the nightclub that it was a favorite and the tempo made her heart thump a little harder, made her feel suddenly as if she was moving to the rhythm she found so appealing. Every step, every pulse of her heart, even the sway of her body seemed to synchronize with the rhythm, seemed transformed into dance, but it was only a manifestation of the joy surging through her, not the cause of it.
She felt as giddy as a teenager on her first night of freedom, looking forward to her first taste of the nightlife, when her entire life lay before her as one great adventure she couldn't wait to experience.
She was looking forward to meeting up with her friends and discovering what the 'special treat' was that they'd thought up to surprise her with for her birthday, but there was nothing particularly special about the birthday itself. In point of fact, she'd begun to dread each anniversary that marked her as another year older, another year past her peak 'freshness date'. If not for the card she'd received in the mail, she thought it was more likely that she would being looking forward to her night with more dread than anticipation. Very likely she would've been trying to think of a way to wiggle off the hook and stay home to mope.
The unthinkable had happened, though--she hoped.
She'd tried to tamp the almost hysterical thrill that had swamped her when she'd finally gotten over the shock of the card. She'd tried not to allow hope to take hold, to brace herself for bad news, and had failed miserably.
Tomorrow, her heart might be broken, but tonight she was going to allow herself to believe because she couldn't prevent it.
Sharon and Denise were standing in the doorway waiting for her, she discovered, drinks in hand and a buzz already going if their behavior was any indication. The minute they spied her, they started jumping up and down, screaming and giggling, as if they were teenagers when it was as far behind them as it was her. In point of fact, both of them were 'settled' and had been for several years at least. In the real world, Sharon was a mother of three--two of which were already in school, or at least pre-school. Denise only had one chick so far, but she'd given her husband notice that 'they' would be pregnant again before the end of the year. She didn't want too much of an age difference between her children.
Maybe they were going through their second childhood, Simone thought ruefully, trying to tamp the heat of embarrassment in her cheeks as she waved back at them?
Both women surged forward, breaking the line going in and pointing her out, reminding the cashier that they'd already paid her cover charge. The cashier turned to look at her and motioned her forward.
Glancing apologetically at the people in line around her, Simone inched around them and held out her hand for the man at the door to stamp it.
Sharon and Denise grabbed her the minute he'd finished and dragged her through the door and inside the nightclub. The noise hit her like a physical blow. The club was rocking and filled, Simone thought a little worriedly, past the legal capacity. Was it typical of the place, she wondered? Or was something special on the agenda for the night?
Talking ninety miles an hour, her two friends plowed their way through the crowd, dragging her behind them. She had no idea what their destination was or what they were saying since she could only catch a word now and then over the buzz of conversations around her and the blaring music. Nothing of any real significance, she was sure, but she smiled and nodded whenever they glanced at her.
It had been a while since she'd been in a bar--several years, although she wasn't in the mood to figure it up. She couldn't see that things had changed much ... except that she and her friends seemed to fit more into the 'older' crowd instead of the younger crowd that made up the vast majority of partiers as they once had.
The cloud of smoke floating nearly the ceiling was absent, too, she noted unhappily, immediately feeling the pull for a shot of nicotine just because she knew she couldn't have it.
She'd always been out of sync with the world, she thought ruefully, but she'd made up her mind to quit like everyone else had or was trying to do these days.
And the world was going to be like Eden when all the smokers were gone, she thought sarcastically, and no one would ever be sick again!
She banished her smokers' rant from her mind with an effort, pushing the urge to rush outside and smoke one back at the same time and forced a smile to her lips when she saw that Sharon and Denise had led her to an elevated area in the very back of the club. Embarrassment flooded her all over again when she saw they'd decorated the area set aside for her party. Carla, Meg, and Shelly, friendly acquaintances from work, bounded up from the benches around the picnic style table and bounced enthusiastically when she arrived, screaming, "Yeah! The birthday girl!"
Oh god! How long had they been waiting, she wondered?