Helena was not the type of woman men wrote songs about. It wasn’t that she was unappealing, just very practical and resoundingly mentally healthy. Her relationships ended in quiet smolders as opposed to blazing infernos and she flossed almost every day. Helena knew there were no songs about her, and it didn’t bother her often.
She stopped staring at the red of the vodka cranberry set between her fingers and turned to the woman screaming on the stage. The singer was all smooth angles in ripped jeans and blackened eyes. ‘I bet she regrets something she did once.’ Helena thought absently as the woman threw back her head, enjoying the noise of the crowd and the guitarists behind her. ‘She’s probably done cocaine. Probably had a really bad song written about her. Maybe dozens of them.’
Someone tapped Helena on the shoulder, fingernails against her black cardigan. “We’re going upstairs.” Cat leaned in close and voiced in Helena’s ear. Behind her Mika pantomimed and pointed towards the balcony section of the small venue. Helena just nodded. She would catch up later, they’d come looking for her if she didn’t, Helena didn’t have friends who leave her lonely for long. The two ascended the faintly lighted staircase and Helena watched their hazy silhouettes go.
The woman on stage began the next song and the sudden cacophony drew Helena’s attention back. With her spine bent over the microphone and eyes closed into black empty holes the woman looked like very pretty bones ‘Once she probably trusted someone who screwed her over.’ Helena smiled, feeling like she knew the thin singer. “And then went back to him.” She whispered, her small voice lost under the guttural song and rough accompaniment.
Helena watched her move, the sharp body swaying and twitching on the stage, as beautiful and broken as the growled lyrics coming from her throat. ‘How many hearts had she broken?’ She thought, to date Helena had never broken one. But this woman had, it was written all over her death head grin and the painful howl of her music. Broken hearts, songs, poems, stories….Helena knew she’d been at the heart of so many.
The set ended and people cheered, Helena didn’t, she just watched the singer leave the stage, her breath caught in her lungs. Elbows prodded her painfully as she moved forward, trying to keep the woman in sight as she and her band picked their way down the stairs into the back. There would be no encore, they were just the opener.
Helena ducked under someone’s drink and pushed forward. When she straitened blackened eye sockets met her gaze and the singer smiled with thin delicate lips. A long finger crooked Helena’s way.
She didn’t move but the space between them vanished and Helena followed the singer. Small jagged steps led them behind the stage and down into the back. “Do you know me?” The woman’s voice was husky and low, just as Helena figured it would be. The question surprised her and the singer smiled with her thin lips again. “You were watching me like you knew me.”
Helena shook her head. “I don’t. I just—“
“Just?” She looked disappointed. “Come on then.” Sharp fingers wrapped around Helena’s and pulled her into the dank room beneath the stage.
Cat was freaking out and Mika didn’t know what to do. The last band had wrapped up and nearly all their equipment was off stage and packed away into the vans. “She wouldn’t just leave.” Cat said and resumed her panicked glances around at the emptying venue.
“Well she’s not here.” Mika said and sent another text to Helena’s phone.
“We can’t just… Cat looked on the verge of tears and the security was giving them looks.
Mika put his phone away. Helena hadn’t answered five calls and ten texts over the last two hours. Something had to be wrong with her phone. “She’s probably back at the car or something. She isn’t the type to do something stupid. C’mon.” Cat let him steer her out and on to the street. The parking lot was nearly empty with only their car waiting in the corner. Mika stopped. Someone, a pale woman in a black cardigan, leaned against the sedan.
“Helena!” Cat exclaimed and ran towards the woman.
Mika didn’t, shivering suddenly as the woman smiled a thin delicate smile.