We jump at the same time.
Raise our hands into the air together.
Know all the words.
And we’re all worshipping the same idol.
She’s up on the stage. From where I am in the mosh pit I can see her dancing her way to the other side and look into the crowd and sing. “I can’t hear it anymore, this isn’t fairy lore, where has your heart gone?”
Is she signing to one person in the crowd or are her eyes darting around trying to spread her awesomeness?
In unison, we sing with her “Alone, alone, alone. I’m alone now. Alone, alone, alone. You’ve let me down.” She holds the mic out as if it could capture our voices and for a moment we’re the only sound in the theatre. The music swelled and she returned the mic to her lips.
Pressed on all sides, the heat is stifling, smothering me in sweat. I’m vibrating. In this place, I’m anonymous and so are the hands that brush against me, grab on, and shove. My ass is centre of attention and then not at all. I should be disgusted and slapping them away and snapping at the owners of the hands, but it’s strangely nice and erotic.
The music is shoved out of speakers, pulsating through the air.
My head whips to the side. Mistake. Our faces collide and not pleasantly, Peyton hadn’t been calling from far away but right into my ear to be heard above the din. We cringe and reposition ourselves.
I slip my arm around Peyton so we don’t lose each other again. She leans in and sighs, her breath gliding over my sweaty neck. I shiver.
“Laila!” She yells again. “I’m sorry!”
“What?!” Was she really apologising now? In the middle of the concert for her fave artist?
“I said I’m sorry.” She repeats as if she hadn’t been heard. “And I love you.”
Those words make my heart squeeze. I slip my other arm around her and hug her tight. Burying my face into her hair I inhale the smell of green tea and jasmine and sweat. The same smell on our bed. “I’m sorry I yelled at you!” I yell into her ear. “I’m just a jealous bitch! But I do trust you! And I love you!”
Peyton lowered her head to my shoulder. The sudden presence of more moisture doesn’t shock me, it’s the shudder that racks Peyton’s body.
“Peyton?!” I hug her tighter. “Babe?! Are you alright?”
Her head shook, hair brushing over my skin and getting stuck there. Not just sweat anymore. Tears. Her tears.
“Peyton! What happened?! Why are you crying?! Peyton! Talk to me!”
“It’s almost over…” The idol on stage whispered into the mic.
Vaguely I realise she isn’t singing anymore. The musicians stop playing awkwardly as if it’s taking them a while to register what’s going on.
But I don’t care, the decrease in noise means I can talk to Peyton.
A panic grips my chest.
“Peyton?” I lift her head with one hand, force her to look me in the eye. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s almost over,” she mutters. “I’m sorry, Laila. My heart will be gone soon.”
“My heart will be gone soon,” the idol repeats Peyton’s words.
“What?” The panic digs claws where it’s gripping my chest, digs in for purchase, and rips it open.
Peyton slumps in my arms.
The crowd begins to scream.
“She’s fallen!” Someone says.
“Help me!” I yell. “I need help! Peyton!”
“Help her!” Someone else screams.
“Piper?!” Another voice.
“Peyton! Stand up! Come on babe. Help! Help!” I start to shake her.
“Shut up!” The guy next to me snaps. “The real problem is on stage.”
I can’t turn to look at him, I know he’s there, but y world has narrowed down to the woman in my arms and the way I can’t feel her breath anymore. “She’s not breathing!” I gasp. “Oh my God, Peyton!”
My knees give out and we fall to the floor.
People around us grumble and step back as best they can.
I’m shaking so much I can’t believe I’m able to do anything that can help. I check her airways, shuffle on my knees towards her chest
Another person drops down to their knees and asks questions. “What’s happened?”
“She’s not breathing.”
“Begin compressions in the middle of the chest.” They order me.
I place my hands to the centre and start to pump up and down. Thirty times. I gasp. Thirty compressions to two breaths. The downwards force on the chest acts like a vacuum when released and oxygen is sucked in. The information slips to the front of my mind.
“Okay, now do breaths,” the person tells me.
I grip Peyton’s face, pinching her nose with one hand and tilting her head back with the other on her chin, then seal over her mouth with mine and breath into her. Her chest lifts. Second breath. Chest lifts again. I start compressions again. Thirty. Then breathe into her again. Two. Thirty. Two. Thirty. Two.
My arms are heavy.
I watch her face.
Come on Peyton open your eyes. Start breathing on your own. Come on babe. Wake up. WAKE UP!
The person touches my arm. “She needs paramedics.” They say.
I shake them off.
They touch my hands. “Stop. I can’t carry her if you’re still working on her.”
The stranger scoops up Peyton and stands. “Move out of the way! I need to get through.” Their shirt is red. It’s dark in the middle in a long line and hugs their body. I follow the red. People try to step in front of me. I shove them out of the way and reach out to grab the hem of the red, sticking close to their body.
We break to the side of the theatre and head to security.
“She’s collapsed and not breathing. We’ve attempted CPR.”
I’m gripping the fabric harder. What’s happening? Why isn’t anything happening? Someone should be doing something.
Then it all happens.
Paramedics take her. I follow them outside. There are multiple ambulances with people on gurneys. Not moving. Paramedics hurry around doing things to them. Peyton is one of them. I stick close to her. People are streaming out of the theatre and crowding around the area.
“Are you her friend?” The paramedic asks.
“Do you know if she took any drugs?”
I shake my head.
“Are you sure? We need to know everything so we can help her.”
“I don’t think she took anything. She isn’t on medication and has no allergies.”
“What was she doing?”
“We got separated in the mosh pit and then she found me. We were hugging and talking…” My voice trails off.