Bass and Heartbeats
April 27th, 2014
Please be aware that this story contains harsh language and references to heavy drug use.
I walked into the room and saw her lying on the floor, motionless, sprawled across the ground, her arms eerily flayed and twisted behind her.
Nobody sleeps like that.
The music downstairs thumped and pounded, but not as loud as my heart. Felt her neck for a pulse.
I thought that I felt something, but I was too scared and a little too drunk to even tell. I stumbled up for the door, then back to her. I couldn’t quite remember what I should’ve done, but I leaned her head over so she wouldn’t choke if she vomited. I stumbled back to the door and down the stairs.
I pushed myself into the living room, through the sweaty mass of people, dancing and drinking and grinding, until I found Mike. I tried to yell at him through the pulsing dance music, but he was too lost in the moment to try to understand me and probably too drunk to pick up on my panic.
I screamed at him, and he only responded by pushing me away with an annoyed look on his face. I grabbed his hands and yanked him through the crowd until we were just barely out of the mass of partygoers.
“Tara – she’s – She’s unconscious, unconscious, upstairs-” My words slurred.
“Tara – she’s on the floor. I think she OD’ed.”
He snapped out of his glossed over party mask and started for the stairs. I followed him as he tripped up the stairs. He collapsed on the floor next to her. She’d vomited all across herself and the floor, and the room smelled sour. He tried to shake her awake.
“Tara! Tara!” His voice was foggy and muffled with alcohol.
“What should we do?”
He looked up, contorting his face with panic.
“I… I… I dunno-”
“What happened to her?”
“I… I… think… she took something. Too much.” He said, quivering.
I knelt down and felt her neck again. It was cold. Really cold.
And there was no pulse.
Suddenly, Carrie burst into the room with Deshawn sucking on her face. She looked down and saw Tara and screamed.
“Shut up!” Mike yelled, falling into a panicked rage. “Shut up, it’s okay, just shut the fuck up!”
“Call the police, Mike, call them now-”
“We can’t have the police here, we can’t-”
“She’s dead, Mike. Call the police.”
We looked at each other. Carrie started to cry; Deshawn let her go and shook his head in shock, spewing a stream of profanities.
“What do we do?”
I kept my finger on her neck, thinking that if I held it there long enough, it would eventually start up again. The room dropped to silence, and the dull beat of bass thumped through the floor from below like a fading heartbeat.
Carrie shook her head and jabbered nonsense. She backed up against the door and threw it open, slowly fleeing the room. Deshawn followed her.
I looked at Mike.
An empty guilt passed over us both, like thick blood.
“I… I dunno what to do.” He stumbled to his feet. “I gotta get outta here.”
He lumbered to the door, threw up, and left the room.
I looked at her, keeping my finger on her cold neck for a few more seconds. I wiped the sour vomit off of my fingers and stood in a sickened daze.
Each of us walked out, one by one. We left her on the floor.
Part of me wanted to call the police, to tell them exactly what happened, but there wasn’t a way to do that, because nobody knew exactly what happened. The blame didn’t fall on one of us.
It fell on all of us.
It fell on Mike. It fell on Carrie and Deshawn.
And it fell on me.
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