Akira wanted to go out last night. She wanted to dance, to drink, to feel normal again.
When I came home from work, she was ready to go. I walked in to find her dancing in front of the bathroom mirror, in a little black dress and enough makeup to hide the dark circles. She had the pink wig on.
I took her to Millie’s Tavern, a hole-in-the-wall place with cheap alcohol and a small dance floor. I could feel eyes on us as we took a seat at the bar. College kids were slowly filling the seats, standing around the tables, and occupying the bartender’s attention.
When she finally made it to us, Akira leaned over the bar and asked for four shots of tequila. She grinned and winked at me. I asked the bartender to bring us each a beer as well.
When we first met, I had brought Akira to Millie’s when a friend of mine’s band was playing. As Red Apple Infection played, I kissed her coral lips for the first time. We matched shots and later tumbled into bed together. I nursed her hangover the next morning, and we spent the day watching movies on my thrift store couch.
As I watched her take her first shot last night, I could see it in her eyes. Her determination. Despite utter exhaustion from treatments and therapies and medications, she was determined to have a night that could remind her of the days before being sick.
We each finished two shots, drank our beers, and then she dragged me onto the dance floor. We moved our bodies with the rhythm, felt the bass pounding through the floor and into our hearts. She threw her hands in the air, her eyes closed, and for a moment it was like it was before.
Except for that bright pink wig.
She lasted two songs. Sweat was pouring down her brow from beneath the wig and she was breathing heavy. She took my elbow and I led her back to the bar. There was one open seat, so I stood behind her and shouted for a glass of water from the bartender.
She put her head down on the bar, but the bartender shook his head. He thought she was drunk. They can’t have drunk people passing out on the bar. So she held herself up, sipped her water, and we waited for her breathing to return to normal.
Even though we knew that our normal would never be that normal again.