Race Haven was all movement and color. Lasers cut the room to ribbons. Strobes painted everything silver. Music that was barely music thumped and thundered from huge speakers. Monsters made of smoke and light billowed out of the corners, forming and unforming into the crowded dance floor. They reached for me with sharp, misty claws. People hopped and ground themselves into a mass of wriggling hips and shoulders. Miss Tris and Tad shared a chair. Their hands found every corner and crevice in their bodies. I tried to watch everyone and everything all of the time. Whenever people got too close, I twitched. My gut rose into my throat. Tayla pinched her eyes together. Her lips looked blue. It might have been the light. It might have been the pressure of too many voices raised in too many conversations. She looked at me and I looked her. She stood and held a hand out. I took it. “Where you going?” Miss Tris asked. I shook my head. “Home,” Tayla said. “It’s early,” Miss Tris said. “Yeah,” Tayla said. She plowed a path through the crowd. No one noticed us at all. Miss Tris followed. “I thought we were going to have fun,” she said at the door. “This isn’t fun,” Tayla said. Miss Tris flinched. No one meant to hurt anyone. “Not my thing,” I said. Miss Tris looked from me to Tayla, from Tayla to the door. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Let me get Tad.” She turned. Even from behind, she looked disappointed. “We can take the bus,” I said. Tayla looked at me.
“Really,” I said. “They can stay.” Tayla kissed me. She was gentle heat on my lips. Her hand in mine was the stone on which I built my reality. When Miss Tris brought Tad, they wore blank faces. This was what they did for fun. Tayla and I were more homebound. We didn’t do crowds. We didn’t do Euro dance music. Miss Tris started to get into her coat but Tayla stopped her. She handed Tad the keys. “Drop it off in the morning,” Tayla said. Tad’s eyes got big. Tayla wasn’t the generous type. Her car was her car. She loaned it to no one. “You sure?” Tad asked. “We’ll ride the bus,” I said. Miss Tris didn’t look convinced. “I’ll be fine,” I said. We stood there like it was big thing for a long time. It’s just a fucking car, I thought. “I’m tired,” I said. Miss Tris looked at Tad. “Be careful,” Tayla said. Outside, the night was wet and the streets were loud. Small maple trees stood like gnarled old men along the curb. I stopped, lost for a minute. “This way,” Tayla said. Clubbers went from door to door dressed in bright colors, done up in too much makeup. To me, it seemed as if clowns had invaded. I giggled a little. Tayla looked at me. “We don’t fit in here,” I said. “No,” Tayla said. “A couple of stodgy old dykes,” I said. We reached the corner and an old man bumped into me. “Now you’ll see what it means,” he said. I turned, confused, a little afraid. But there was no old man, just the pretty people popping from party to party.