By Vita Forest
The shoes! The shoes! What was she thinking? How did people stand up in them? Let alone walk. Let alone dance. They had to come off! Pip pushed her way through the people, and the thudding music, which seemed almost a physical presence, and left the lounge room. She blinked in the brightness of the hallway and bent down to wrench off those high heels. Those stupid sexy shoes she had been talked into buying in a moment of weakness.
“Sitting down shoes,” her sister called them.
Pip found her jacket and hid her fabulous sitting-down shoes beneath it. She wriggled her toes and arched her feet. Much better. She would simply go barefoot.
Pausing just beyond the doorway, Pip let her eyes adjust to the dark again. The room was full of dark shadows, dark figures lounging around the perimeter against walls and windows, the centre full of bouncing, flailing dancers. Her hips starting moving again. Then her shoulders. Then Pip’s arms flew above her head, and in the next instance she was dancing in amongst them again. Who knew where her friends were? At this point it didn’t matter. If you were dancing, if you were in the zone, you could dance anywhere, with anyone. So she did. She did her hip hop moves. Some salsa. Joined a conga line. She was up for anything. Any song that came on was her favourite. Was the cause of whooping and cheering. She was in “the zone”. She found her friends again, held Sophie’s hand, mirrored her moves. Led Sophie through her own.
A searing pain in foot. Burning. Pip’s eyes widened and she fell to the floor in a heap. Jonny lifted her up and carried her out of the dark into that blinding light again. Through to the kitchen.
They all groaned as they looked down at her foot. A red welt slashed into the skin above her toes. A hole. Purple around the red. Pip stared at her foot and felt the pounding of her blood through her whole body. Her vision began to blur and whiten, she stared and stared, as if falling back into a tunnel.
“Let me through!” someone shouted vaguely from a distance.
She felt someone lift up her foot, her poor fragile foot and slap something cold over the top of it. Pip breathed out through her teeth and felt the whiteness retreat. Felt her mind return from that tunnel. Come back to her. The hot burning was fighting against the cold burning. It was spluttering. The fire was going out.
“What is that?”
“Just peas,” someone said. “Mint peas actually. Shelled and snap frozen.”
“Do you want to go home?” Sarah brushed Pip’s hair out of her face with gentle fingers.
“No. I’ll just sit with the peas.”
They carried her back into the darkness (Make way! Make way!) and found her a place on a couch. Sarah piled up the cushions behind her back. Jonny nursed her legs. Mira held her feet and draped the peas over Pip’s foot, now only dully thudding. Sophie brought her a cold glass.
“Just water,” but who knew “Just water” cold from the fridge could taste so good. Pip leaned back and peered out into the dance. From the friend zone.