3 DAYS LATER
As I walk into Constellations, the new nightclub that opened up only a few weeks ago, I feel proud of my choice straight away. The atmosphere is contagious, there’s people moving around to the rhythm of the music on the dance floor, colorful lights all over the place, which is still pretty dark and mysterious looking, and there’s a big stage on the opposite side... that’s still empty.
“Thank God!” I think out loud, I’m not late enough to miss the start of the show. I check my smartwatch, which reads twenty past eight. Not too bad.
I look over to the booth seats arranged around the stage, and it only takes me a moment to find Sam’s lilac hair poking from behind one of them. She looks a bit awkward sitting there, her head is tilted down and it looks like her eyes are concentrating on something on her lap. I hope it’s not what I’m thinking.
That’s it, I head over to the bar: Sam needs
“Hello there!” I say to the gorgeous bartender standing in front of me. He’s got short spiky black hair, with eyes equally dark and he’s showing his white teeth in a cute little half smile.
“What can I get you, darlin’?” His voice is deep and he sounds as sexy as he looks. I flash him my biggest smile and point with my head to the booth where Sam is sitting.
“Right, so, my friend and I are looking to have some fun tonight, could I open up a tab?” That’s partly true, but partly a lie. I’m really looking forward to a good night with my best friend, but I’m also looking for a distraction.
“Sure thing sweetheart! I’ll just need your card and some ID.”
I grab the Amex out of my wallet and hand it over to him, making sure our fingers touch ever so slightly when he grabs it.
“Are you gonna be a part of the show tonight?,” I ask with a cheeky smile and a wink as I sweep a curl of my hair back over my shoulder.
This guy could perfectly well be the distraction I’m after.
“Not tonight, I’m only bartending.”
His mirrored cheeky smile surprises me by sending shivers down my spine. What’s wrong with me? It’s been a while since a guy got me feeling like this so soon.
“Oh, bugger!” I say brushing it off. “Well, I guess I’ll see you again when you bring our drinks over then.” I start playing with a curl of my hair, twirling it over a finger. “And by the way, I didn’t catch your name,” I let the words float in the air making them sound like a question.
“It’s Miguel,” he replies while handing me over a drink list, “but most people around here call me Mike.”
I stifle a laugh at the cheesiness of it all, and quickly glance through the drink list. It’s an easy choice, I already know what I’m after.
“We’ll have two margaritas, one with extra salt.”
“Sure, I’ll bring them over in just a minute… Emma.” He says after looking at the name on my ID.
“Thank you, Miguel,” I reply with a cheeky but cute smile, trying to go against the grain as usual. As soon as I say it though, I realise I really like the way his name sounds when it rolls out of my tongue.
‘We were looking at the same sky together, which is maybe more intimate than eye contact anyway. Anybody can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see’.
“What do you think you’re doing?!”
I literally jump up from the seat as Em's voice brings me back to reality. I put the book I was reading on top of the little table and pretend that my heart isn't beating like crazy.
I walk a tentative step towards my friend.
"What do you mean, what am I doing? I’m waiting for you, you’re like half an hour late!” I try to sound annoyed, but the truth is that I already knew Em wouldn’t be here for at least 40 minutes after I arrived, as I’m always early, and Emma is always -almost religiously- late.
“I mean… you’re reading a book at a nightclub, Sammy!”
With that being said, Em laughs brightly.
“Well, for starters, you told me it was a pub.” I say with feigned nonchalance.
We stare at each other for a minute, waiting to see who’s gonna break the deadpanned expression first.
I win, as Em finally cracks up with laughter, and hugs me. She embraces me like we haven’t seen each other in years. Which is what it feels like, as we actually haven’t had any time to see each other in a couple of months, and for us, that’s an eternity.
For anybody looking from the outside, the scene might seem completely normal, but even though we don’t talk about it, we know this is not the norm.
Doesn’t matter that we have been best friends for years -or more like kindred spirits, soul sisters, two peas in a pod- we still rarely hug. We will walk together with our arms hooked, we will playfully punch or kick each other, Em will poke me on the cheek and I will even pat Em on the head; but hugging is mostly out of question. It’s a special type of contact saved for special circumstances.
As we finally sit down, a tall guy with a white shirt that looks a size too small comes over with a tray and two cocktails on it. I’m about to tell him we didn’t order anything, shyly glancing at my water glass, just as Em yelps with excitement.
“Perfect! Drinks are here! Thank you again, Miguel,” she sings happily.
Oh dear, why am I even surprised? Em grabs one of the drinks, asking if it’s the one with extra salt, and passes the other one over to me with a huge smile on her face. I can’t help but think that maybe I’m missing a crucial piece of information if Em went straight to the margaritas… it’s her drink of choice when something is not right. I don’t get to think much about it though, as my friend looks happily at me and lifts her glass up.
“Cheers!” she yelps, and drowns half her cocktail in one big gulp.
I’m still thinking about how quirky Sam is, reading a book in a damn nightclub, as I take another sip from my margarita. Delicious!
“So, what are you reading now?” I ask as I stretch over the table and grab the book.
It’s got a big orange spiral on the front and the title reads “Turtles all the way down”. Before I get to read the name of the author, Sam is already talking with an edge of excitement in her voice.
“It’s the last book John Green published, and, oh my! I’m absolutely loving it so far, I can lend it to you once I finish it if you want. It’s actually a really adorable story, full of philosophical and cool quotes. Aza, the main character, suffers from anxiety and-”
"Wait, wait, wait! Stop right there!” I hold my palms up to Sam, almost getting on her face, and then hand her the book back. “Put that away, I don’t want any spoilers, I’m actually interested in reading it and you're the worst at spoiling books!”
I actually knew the book was coming out soon, but I didn't get a chance to get it... Well, who am I kidding? I knew Sam would get it before me anyways, and I was sure I’ll be able to borrow it. Sam laughs a little as she puts the book in her handbag.
“Sorry, I know, I always do the same. I’ll give it to you as soon as I’m done.”
“So, what’s been going on with you?” I say as I decide a change of subject is needed with urgency. Sam’s been a bit distant lately and I want this night to be a special and amazing bonding time for us. As much as I'm looking forward to the fun we're gonna have tonight, the truth is that I’m a bit concerned, and I feel the need to know if Sam is honestly okay.
“We haven’t actually talked that much in the last couple of months,” I say tentatively, hoping not to spook her, “is Brad still annoying you?”
Sam crunches her face in a disgusted expression, and I wonder for a moment if I asked the wrong question, if things are really as bad as I expect, or if Sam is simply not ready to talk about it yet. After a brief but obvious pause, Sam finally replies.
“Not really, he finally stopped texting me a few weeks ago, so that’s good.”
Feeling relieved, I smile widely.
“Good, if he texts you again, or hurts you in any other way, I will punch him in the gut and... and... then rip his fucking dick off with my bare hands!” I feel my stomach churning at the mere thought, so I correct myself.
“Well, maybe not, bad idea, I don’t want to touch that disgusting thing! I’ll use a knife.”
“Emma! You can’t go around yelling the word dick like that!” Sam’s cheeks flush with a bit of colour at the words, but it’s barely visible. She’s also laughing, which is what I was going for, so I’m pleased anyways.
Oh, how sweet and naive you are my friend.
I can’t help the evil smirk that extends through my face at the thoughts circling my mind and the thrilling expectation of what's to come.
When Em asked about Brad, I couldn’t stop the memories from flashing in my mind.
My ex went full on toxic during the last months of our relationship, and even though it took me way longer than I wish, I finally started to see all the signs I’d ignored before. The way he would mock me for thinking differently, the jokes about my skin colour that weren’t at all friendly like the ones Em plays on me sometimes. The way he’d question all of my decisions and make me feel like I was never good enough for him... The way he deminished me in front of other people, calling me stupid or saying that I didn’t know what I was talking about when I made a comment.
I had to stop my own thoughts on their tracks and buried them down deep.
“Not really, he finally stopped texting me a few weeks ago, so that’s good,” I finally said with a half smile.
That isn’t completely true. Yes, Brad did stop texting me, but how can I explain that now that he finally stopped harassing me and he isn’t asking me to go back to him anymore, I actually feel empty? It's fucked up, I know it is. And Emma hates him so much for how he made me suffer, she doesn't understand that I truly loved him. So instead, I told the easy lie I’ve been telling everybody. It is the first time I ever lied to Em, and I felt a pang of regret straight away.
I’ve always been open and honest around my best friend, Em is the only one I can be like that with. But this is something I’m not ready to face myself, so I don’t talk about it.
After telling her off for loudly yelling the word dick in the middle of a crowded club, I can see Emma smirking in a twisted and creepy way. Oh my, what did I get myself into?
All of a sudden, Em cracks up laughing. Loudly. She’s clutching at her stomach, tears almost rolling out of her eyes. I’m half wondering what could have been so funny, half thinking Em’s got something planned that I’m not gonna like. But at the same time, the laugh is so contagious that I find myself laughing too. In that moment, I notice that while my margarita is still almost full, Em’s one doesn’t have a single drop left in it.
Once she manages to stop laughing, Em takes a deep breath and looks at me dead in the eye.
“Oh, my darling friend!” she says with an amused tone, “if you think me saying dick,” she draws air quotes at the last word, “is inappropriate, just wait to see what awaits you tonight!”
I don't get a chance to ask her what she is talking about, I don’t even get a chance to think her words through, cause in that moment, the music grows loud and the lights turn on in the stage in front of us. I’m almost blinded for a second, and then my jaw drops.
Note: Thanks so much for reading this far! What do you think is going to happen? I'd love to hear your guesses!