Damsel In Desire
“Suck it in, bitch.” Jade laced the corset and yanked until deep breaths became an unreachable goal. The more I attempted to squirm away the harder she pulled.
Sarah, who wobbled in the corner, tugged on her costume, “We’re gonna party hard tonight, ladies,” Her words slurred together as she wiggled into the fluffiest skirt she could get her hands on. “like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.”
The reference made me snicker, “I was five in ninety-nine.” I wondered if corsets typically made the wearer light-headed. I tried to shake off the appearing black spots in my vision, “How many shots did you have?”
Empty bottles of vodka and gin made the dressing room floor a hazard.
“Only one,” Sarah hiccuped. We stared her down until she rolled her pale eyes. “Plus five. Give or take,”
“Because Lucas is coming?” Jade asked while sealing me into my costume for the night. Amy, the wicked witch of PinkCherry, let it slip during practice that Lucas would be her plus one for the night.
“No,” Sarah spat and then tried to excuse her overkill pregaming, “It’s Halloween. Why not drink a little?”
The source of her drinking problem would be arriving in less than an hour with the rest of our guests.
I reached out but she moved away.
Her body swayed as tears formed in her eyes. “I’m sorry, I just need a minute.” She turned and stumbled into the supply room with Jade following close behind.
“Party time,” I mumbled to myself and finished pinning my hair into Belle’s iconic look. My reflection in the mirror made me wish I chose a less revealing outfit. The yellow corset pushed my chest up and framed every curve; Jade’s boob contouring certainly didn’t help me blend into the expected crowd.
A dozen thoughts raced through my head as covered my lips in red and all of them led to one roadblock. I checked my phone resting on the vanity top and sighed when I saw there were no new messages.
After sending my father the money for my wide-eyed half-siblings I hadn’t heard from him. I couldn’t even pretend to be surprised.
“It’s showtime!” Kitty poked her head into the door and looked around, “Where’s Cinderella and Jasmine?” Her bubble-gum pink hair laid delicately over her pale shoulders. The slutty rendition of Sleeping Beauty sashayed her way over to me.
“In the back.”
Kitty sighed, “Well that just leaves us on option,”
My curious expression urged her to continue.
“We have to kill him.”
I snickered, “We can’t do that,”
“You’re right, we’ll need the supplies before starting the elimination process,” The determination on her face prompted my laughter. Although blood-splattered princess costumes on Halloween wouldn’t be suspicious, my to-do-list didn’t include murder.
“Go mingle, I’ll check on the girls.” Kitty slapped my ass and pushed me out the door.
Psychedelic lighting and creepy decorations enveloped me as I stumbled out the dressing room door. The store imitated Friday the thirteenth on steroids with floating ghouls and FX blood fountains. I forced my laughter down when Slutty Snow and the seven whores walked by.
The last Halloween party I graced with my presence was in my first, and only, semester of college; Cynthia whatever-her-last-name dared me to get to third base with Chase Derm. The events of those nights still haunted me.
I made a bee-line to the punch fountains and avoided scooping up any slimy eyeballs.
“What are you supposed to be?” I looked up and realized the judgmental tone wasn’t directed at me. The girl, dressed in a Poison Ivy costume, waited for her friend to respond.
“A playboy bunny,” Her friend wiggled her ass and shook the cotton ball tail towards the congregation of men across the room. I rolled my eyes and wandered around the room in hopes of finding someone to talk to.
After a few minutes, my target was acquired; I chugged the remainder of my punch and went in for the kill.
“Funny seeing you here,” Ethan smirked when he saw my approaching.
“Well, I do practically live here,” The statement felt more true with every passing day.
He brushed off my comment with a playful grin, “Details,” I couldn’t stop myself from returning the smile.
“So what are you trying to pass for?” I asked while ignoring how my stomach fluttered when he ran his hand through his styled hair.
“Isn’t it obvious?” He spun for my amusement, “I’m Prince Charming.”
I scoffed with the same goofy smile plastered on my face, “You wish,”
Ethan chuckled and cupped my hand in his, “At least one of us lives up to their costume, Beauty.” Heat rose to my cheeks as he kissed the top of my hand.
Before I could respond with stunned gibberish the lights flickered off and darkness fell over the room.
“Well that's dramatic,” The words left my mouth right as a familiar song floated through the speakers. Flashbacks of the summer my father left crept into my mind; My mother insisted on watching her favorite movie for weeks to somehow mend her heart.
Ethan stared at the ceiling, “What the hel-” Before he could finish the mutual thought a massive chandelier illuminated the room and the phantom took the stage.
The butterflies in my stomach mutated as I realized who hid under the mask. His slicked-back hair and aged suit gave him a striking appearance compared to the crowd.
I leaned over to Ethan, “If I signed a letter of consent would you stab me?”
“Are you asking me to murder you?” Ethan’s look of bewilderment transformed into a grin. I turned back toward the stage and forced myself to listen to Jason's greeting.
I stared down the barrel of a gun and without looking away I knew my head would explode. Jason's offer echoed in my mind while I watched him address the crowd and welcome them to the party.
Before I process my thoughts, Jason descended from the stage and walked towards me. Adrenaline flooded through me and triggered my flight response to confrontation.
“Hold this, thanks.” I handed Ethan my empty cup and hauled ass to my fellow Princesses. I figured they emerged during the Phantom's grand interest.
“There she is!” Sarah giggled and clung to my neck, “I’m so sorry I was cranky,”
I tried to respond but she placed a finger to my lips.
“Shhhh, I love you,” She whispered, and then her lips crashed into mine. Prying a trashed Cinderella off was far more difficult than I could have ever imagined.
After Kitty and Jade finished their photoshoot by the punch bowls they saw the awkward kiss attack and peeled Sarah off.
“Why does your tongue taste like vanilla?” I asked while taking a few steps back.
Sarah giggled, “Why do you taste like Jason?” Her laughter turned into menacing cackling.
The implosion of my brain made it impossible to form words. I made eye contact with Kitty and Jade while struggling to pick my jaw up from the floor.
We never kissed.
Kitty snickered, “How would you know what Jason tastes like?” I glanced back to where the menace himself stood. He was doubled over in laughter with Ethan. Traitor.
Kitty grabbed Sarah before she could topple into the bloody fountain.
“You like him don’t you?” Sarah wagged her finger in my face, "That's why you keep staring,"
“I am not staring,"
“Just admit it, Tara. You want to surrender to the royal phantom,” She slurred while leaning against Kitty for support.
“I do not,”
“Don’t do it,” Her hand caressed my cheek, “He’ll just stick his disco stick into another whore and knock her up with his Satan seed,” The typical gleam in Sarah's bright eyes shattered; I almost considered going through with Kitty’s plan.
Sarah's mask fell off and revealed a girl whose high school sweetheart dumped her for someone else. I watched Kitty help her backstage and listened to the melody of The Music of The Night.
Jade cleared her throat, “She ran into Lucas yesterday at the gynecologist’s.”
“Why would h-”
“He was with Amy,”
I blinked and the realization hit me, “We should go talk to her,” I turned but Jade pulled me back.
“Let her sleep this off first,”
I nodded despite knowing she'd feel even worse in the morning. A broken heart and an ear-splitting headache would be enough to drive anyone insane.
Jade and I stood in uncomfortable silence until a group of Cherries skipped over and demanded we join them in a game of truth or dare.
By the time Kitty returned we were up to our ears in secrets.
“Kitty, come play with us!” The leader of the group pulled Kitty down to where we sat on the ground, “You’re just in time for Tara’s turn.”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Kitty elbowed me but I was too busy focusing on the devil sitting in front of me. Red horns poked out of her auburn hair and matched the pointed tail flowing out her backside.
My tongue clicked before I delivered my question, “Who’s the father?”
Amy laughed, “I pick dare.”
“Fine,” I folded my hands and placed them inside my lap, “I dare you to tell us who knocked you up.”
The leader shifted but still spoke up, “It’s the game, Amy.”
Amy's jaw locked and homicidal rage flashed through her dark green eyes, “Lucas Diggs,”
"Ex-boyfriend if I remember correctly,"
"You say that as if you didn't have anything to do with that,"
She leaned in so I could smell her bubble gum laced breathe, "Oh, I had everything to do with it,"
Amy rested her hands back on the floor and made her growing bump more obvious, "He just looked so fine whenever he brought Sarah coffee in the morning. And what can I say," She shrugged, “I’m hotter.”
The group of Cherries sucked in a collective gasp.
“You're such a bitch," I growled in spite of Kitty's warning grip on my upper arm.
"Maybe," Amy laid her hands on her bump, "But I'm the one having Lucas' kid."
The frustration in my veins boiled over until I had no choice but to lurch at the smirking harpy in front of me.
Before I made contact someone grabbed me by the waist and carried me from the whole treacherous scene, plus life in prison.
Amy scoffed in the distance as I wiggled in the stubborn arms wrapped around me, “Let me go!” My feet dangled above the floor as the person moved me away from the crowd.
“Not until you calm down,” Jason’s arms tightened around me as I kicked, “You're acting like a child,”
“I am not, ” I backed away as soon as my feet were back on the ground, "You don't know what she did,"
Jason cocked an eyebrow at my statement, “Nothing that Luke didn’t let her do.”
I preferred not to listen to his logic.
"That's not an excuse," I snapped while the anger still burnt through me.
“Why are you taking this so hard?” Jason watched my explosive reactions with a twinkle in his eye.
I shook my head, “Doesn’t matter,” My first attempt to walk away failed because Jason pulled me back.
“Fine, don't tell me but I hope you understand that no one can make someone do anything that they didn’t already want to do,” His eyes locked onto mine as he continued to try and decipher my outburst, "At least not in this case,"
“Maybe,” I said, “But that doesn’t mean she should get away with it,” I pulled myself out of his grasp and headed to the last place I saw something that would ease the rage inside of me.
Kitty and Jade found me finishing off Sarah's abandoned bottle of rum in the backroom. Less than an hour passed while I drowned my sharp edges in the most questionable way.
“Not you too,” Jade joined me by the vanities while I polished off the bottle. “At this rate our next girl’s night out is going to have to be at an AA meeting,”
Kitty handed me another half-empty bottle and Jade glared at her, “So why’d you freak out?”
I swallowed the bitter taste in my mouth and tried to remember the source of my anger. Amy's blatant bitchiness infuriated me but seeing Sarah hurt reminded me of a time in my life I worked hard to ignore.
I stopped trying to make sense of the anger and retreated into myself. Kitty's reasonable question hung in the air.
Why did I lose it?
I tugged at the snug corset; Any tighter and I'd be unable to breathe. I took another long sip of rum.
"My dad cheated on my mom," The words didn't burn as I assumed they would. The more time that passed the further away the memories seemed, "He cheated and moved on while my mom..." I squeezed my eyes shut.
Jade took my hands as I tried to stabilize myself. The pressure from the corset and mixture of punch and rum fueled black spots in my vision.
As my eyes fell back into my head a familiar sensation tingled over me. Someone caught me in their arms before I could tumble to the ground.