SOPHIA'S 30 SECONDS
Sophia’s 30 Seconds…
For some reason, my instinct told me to go to the party. Something told me to be there in case something bad happened. In case what happened in the dream happens at this party. I know it sounds paranoid and anyway, I was the one who shot…me? There was nothing to worry about.
Sophia at this point may not be afraid, at all, of doing something stupid and reckless. She also made me wonder how the fuck did Carmichael, her father, agree to the party, a swamp party, in the first place.
Craig, Mason, Elijah, Jeremiah, Abel, Will...basically, all my high school friends thought it was a good idea to go...all for different motives.
And I couldn’t help but notice how Jeremiah, just yesterday at school, REEKED of alcohol. Some had intention of actually finding out why, formally, was the party taking place and some just...wanted a party.
I am nothing at that party but their bodyguard!
Because we had to be fashionably late, we arrived at 10pm, driven by Gabriel. “Now Adrian, I want you home before dawn. Are we clear? I don’t trust that bitch.”
He too found it pointless for me to be there, knowing what she had done to me.
“I got it.” I nodded.
“You look pretty with your hair down, by the way. You always do.”
And my my, I blushed. “I…thank you.”
I got out of the car and yup, it was definitely a high school party. And it wouldn’t be without some college jocks hanging out with minors! A bunch of pervertic, horny teenage boys who are ready to devour the sweet innocence of young high school toddlers. It was disgusting for her to even think of this kind of idea. But high school kids, especially in Belvyn, would have never set their foot in Sophia’s house if college rapists aren’t there to “ignite” the party.
“You came?” Abel walked towards me with two red cups.
“I hope you’re not bringing that to me.”
“I was.” His voice dropped. “Look I’m sorry for coming up with that insane idea. It was the talk of a disconcerted man.”
I nodded with a forgiving smile. “It was.”
“Hey man.” Craig hugged me. “Are you...okay with being here?”
“Eh...why not? I’m not intimidated by a toothless dog.”
Craig smiled. For a second, I got lost in those eyes. Into the ‘what could have been’. “Shall we go inside?”
We walked inside. I was terrified because I had not been in a wooden house filled by almost 300 guests. I still wondered how did she manage a lot of people to her party. She was social, but not that social.
“You look amazing, by the way.” Abel whispered.
I smiled again. “So do you.”
Not really. He looked like the typical Abel I would see any day at Clever Cats High.
The house was gentrified and decorated a bit. A lot of students were at the swamp dam nearby while everyone else was either outside, on the wooden balcony or inside either playing drinking games, slouching at the couch while drinking from red cups or dancing to the brain-cracking Hip-Hop tracks on the speakers. The entire scene did make up for a party, to admit.
“I’ve always wanted to dance with you.” Abel unexpectedly turned me around. “And drink and smoke weed with you.”
“Oh.” I giggled. “And why me, specifically?”
“I don’t know, but I want to dance with you to this stupid Meghan Trainor track.” He started doing the twist. “C’mon.”
I loosened up a bit and as much as I couldn’t professionally dance like the likes of Jeremiah and Mia, I could break them legs and twist.
And after a bunch of weird pop music dominating the party playlist, I eventually got tired of dancing like an ass-less monkey.
We finally settled on one of the chairs and again, he attempted giving me a drink. “I think the mood has changed so I’ll offer you a drink again?”
I smiled. “Why thank you. You’re suddenly a gentleman at parties. Normally, you would have told me to make my own punch.”
He giggled. “Don’t kill my vibe, Spector.”
“Thank you for coming. I don’t know how this would have turned out if I had done something different.”
He grinned. “It’s what friends are for, Adrian.”
The word ‘friend’ coming from him, for some reason, felt discomforting. It felt like he should be calling anything but that.
I drank the vodka blended with god knows what else. And yes, it was disgusting. But I had kept on imbibing and more and more the night progressed, I felt loose and mitigated.
On the spur of the moment, I felt an urgent pat on my shoulder.
“Adrian...hey.” Sophia, out of nowhere, whispered from behind me.
“Sophia. What a party.” I said sardonically.
“Didn’t really think you’d make it here.” She smiled sincerely. “I thought I was the one who ordinarily made you to come to parties.”
“Well clearly you didn’t know me that well.”
My fists clenched.
Why was everyone so scattered? Mia was drunk already!
“I did all this because I knew you would come.”
“I came to protect my friends from the insane plan you probably have up your sleeve to embarrass us!” I exclaimed.
Her eyes teared. “Look Adrian, I’m so sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. I didn’t know and you above everyone else know that I am fucking awful with this love thing. Doesn’t give me an excuse to react the way I did and now, I just wish to make amendments.” She shrugged.
I sighed. “I’m over it.”
”I mean, for a long time, I was furious and galled about what had happened to me. But I learned my way around it, encircled myself with amazing people and I am doing just great. So it’s a bygone.” I smiled.
She approached with a hug. She authentically cried over my shoulder. As much as I missed her, idolized her and would have taken the chance to ‘be friends’ again, I couldn’t.
She backed away, frail. “I don’t think there’s any chance we could go back to being...”
“Friends? No.” I shook my head.
She had an apparition-like look in her eyes that I couldn’t juggle. It was like a puzzle with too many pieces to solve. “Okay then. I have something for you.”
She reached into her purse and took out a very tiny box, as small as a ring box. “This is a gift. I think it’s best if you open it when you get home or...when it’s done.”
“When what’s done?”
“You’ll understand when you open the box.” She smiled. “Well...bye. It was nice seeing you.”
She walked off. I just stood there, not knowing how to feel about her apology. Anilkumar wasn’t in the party either, which means that she did all this...on her own? Did she publicize her party online?
Nevertheless, she showed unquestionable intention for inviting me. I might as well enjoy.
I joined Craig, who appeared to be squandered. His social anxiety hadn’t simmered or changed one bit. “You’re okay?”
“Are you? I saw you talking to Sophia.” He sighed and jeered. “You guys hugged. And she gave you a gift?”
I nodded. “She...actually has no vendetta or ‘plan’ as I assumed. Julie isn’t even here.”
“Huh!” His face twined.
I was also confused. Moreover, I just wanted to get away from beginning a conversation with Craig. “I’m going to join Mia.”
“Please...stay.” He held my hand.
I froze in place. I was more than afraid of what would happen if I stayed and talked to him, but then remembered how Walter advised me to tell him.
Although, a party is the most convenient place to tell a person that you attempted killing them with a mirror piece. “Sure.” I replied.
I sat down with him on a couch, where I found him sitting with Ryan and some few jocks I didn’t seem to have any vendetta against. “How did we date, Adrian? Like, was I good to you?”
“Craig...we dated for a day.”
“I know but...I can’t help but think of how we finally ended up dating!”
“Finally?” I giggled.
“Dude, I kissed you at the Truth or Dare game. That must tell you something.”
“It did. You were a good person, Craig. I bet you still are.”
He sighed. “But I get it. We should ‘recuperate’. You and Abel seem to be hanging out a lot.”
“Yeah. He’s been very supportive ever since the trial.” I felt awkward talking about him.
“YO, FERNANDEZ...WE’RE PLAYING TRUTH OR DRINK!”
“Yeah, coming.” Craig yelled back. “You’ coming?”
“Since when are you friends with Plum-egg?” I giggled.
“Since I came back from the hospital. He was literally the first person next to me at the hospital.”
Wait...I thought no one was allowed to visit him.
A table was surrounded by some familiar faces from school, but you never really know how to talk to everyone. Plumegg was one of them. Don’t know how he got the nickname, but he sure lived up to it. He was the unpopular punk, conspiracy theorist and a blogger. The reason why it felt impossible to believe that he was friends with Craig, other than the fact that no one was allowed to visit Craig during his hospitalization, was because their personalities opposed. A lot. They were nothing alike. Craig was the mean face. Plumegg was a random blogger who had written more than five articles about me. Including the Dr Langford trial.
“Truth or Drink, huh?” Mia sat on my other side, whispering, as Craig sat on the other.
“He asked. I couldn’t say no.” I whispered back.
She was drunk anyway.
“I’mma start with Beth here...were you dating Daniel for his money or because you actually loved him?” Ryan asked.
Beth, with a smile, drank from the cup. Apparently, we were competing for money. If you drink, you’re out. If you don’t, you win.
Beth, by the way, was one of Daniel’s exes. There’s not much of an interesting story there, but Cole on the other hand did have a story to tell. One impactful. Cole had been the asshole jock who felt superintendent to make elusive sex tapes with every woman in that school. Depersonalizing women because he had been validated as the sexy athlete with brown luminous skin and an ideal body I could see a naive teen girl dying for.
Even Niall wasn’t as bad. That’s only because in the end, he would have never hidden his identity and kept an innocent face. There just wasn’t proof to say he was a sex offender in most instances. Cole, on the other hand, had made tapes of various girls at that school dancing on his dick and receiving applause for raping girls at pool parties and somehow, he happened to be friends with Jason, who respected women. He had quite a revolting reputation, but more on him later.
“Plumegg, you’re next.” Cole demanded. “You’ve been in Crane Hills ’cause you’re banging some dude, aren’t you?”
“The fuck?! No, but…” He yelled defensively. “How’s that anyone’s business?”
“Ayt, man. That’s all.” Cole’s hands hanged.
“Cole...your turn. When are you telling the world that you’re only pretending to be an asshole?” He grinned sarcastically.
“And you thought you should bring that shit up on a stupid Truth or Drink game, Plumegg?!” Cole was bursting in flames.
“Hey...” He scoffed. “It’s just a game. They have no idea what I’m talking about ’less you answer.”
Cole drank and everyone cheered.
“I have one. It’s for you, Adrian.” Mia said with the most drunk voice.
“Uhm okay.” I made a nervous laugh.
“Did you attempt to kill Craig Fernandez?”
My heard FROZE! What the fuck was Mia doing?
“What?” My voice disappeared. Was I drunk?
“You heard me. And is Abel helping you cover it up?”
“Okay, Mia! You’re extremely drunk. I think you should rest. Give me your bottle.” Craig spoke calmly. I could tell he was terrified.
“Don’t touch me, Craig!” Mia yelled. Her hand flew, in which she let go of her glass and shattering it on the floor. She was becoming violent.
“What’s going on?” Jeremiah followed by William, Mason and the one person I didn’t see that night up to that moment...Jason.
“What’s going on is that Adrian tried to kill Craig but his precious boyfriend, Abel, is covering up for him.”
“WHAT?!” William pretended. “That’s absurd. Mia, you’re drunk and you’re making a fool out of yourself.”
“Oh and Craig...they’re ALL accomplices. BOOM! Did I win?” She laughed hysterically.
Jeremiah GRABBED Mia and had to force her out of the house. The violence was becoming scandalous as phones were everywhere, flashing.
But as I expected, the music came back up as soon as Mia left and partygroovers went on with their lives as if they had just heard nothing.
I stormed out of the house to get fresh air, with tears exploding down my face.
How could she? What prompted her to get to the point where she spills everything? How dare she calls me an accomplice when she was too for her ex’s murder? She was also an accomplice to Benjamin’s death!
“ADRIAN!” Craig ran behind me.
I kept on running, not looking back. This was useless because he was an actual athlete, meaning he could effortlessly outrun me if it were a race.
He caught my arm and turned me around. “Adrian...”
“Craig...I can’t talk to you right now.”
“Why? Are you afraid?” His voice darkened.
I tried to hide fright in my eyes as much as possible. “Craig...”
“Was Mia telling the truth? You almost killed me?”
“Craig, I can’t believe you’re listening to a drunk girl, Mia to be specific. We’ve seen Mia drunk.”
“Adrian...were you the one who attacked me?”
“Were you the one who attacked me, Adrian!?” He roared.
I paused. Now he was full-blown mad. Any unwise denial at that point would have made me a several colours meal for him to chew on and devour. His fists were tightened and his frontal vein was protruded and palpitating. It was that look he had given to Julie Anilkumar and Sophia at the Nahoo beach. Vicious and menacing.
Our tense exchange was disturbed by a macabre scream, one that didn’t subside in just a second but lasted for as long as I could remember. It sounded like an audible panic attack from a young teenage girl.
The shrieking grew from assorted persons. They, on the face of it, came from the nearby swamp. EVERYONE, in a mob, ran to the swamp to see what caused this sheer terror and...that was it.
Shirtless boys, in unison, carried out a body that seemed completely covered in swamp and mud. It was unconscious and unmoving. Although, noticeably, the body’s left wrist was still bleeding like an open tap, blood oozing in monumental amounts that signified no signs of life but irreversible death.
“SOPHIA!!!” My voice echoed as I instinctively wiped the mud off her unconscious face. I would have recognized her anywhere.
She looked like she had been drowning, struggling for her life.
My voice cracked into a hideous cry. A friend I had known more than ten years...gone with the wind, just like that. And it hurt. Not even rancour would have been fair enough to hold in transaction for her death. Her death was brutal, even so self-inflicted.
“She said she just needed thirty seconds in the water...she was feeling a bit tipsy.” Tamia, who was seemingly hanging out with Sophia during these past few weeks, reported to the sheriff.
I watched as the paramedic staff diagnose her death before placing her into a body bag. Everyone was petrified. The forensic staff were at the sight too.
“Will you be okay?” Jeremiah held my shoulder.
I silently grabbed him into a hug. A long one filled with interminable sobs.
How did such a night end up in such horror?
“I’ll be fine, Jeremiah.” I stopped hugging him. “Alejandro already heard the news and he’s on the way.”
He nodded. “I need to rest. You should too. And don’t worry about Mia, we’ll figure it out like we always do.”
I nodded. Everyone couldn’t stay any second longer. It was a nightmare being there. An eyesore memory. No one, even the people who didn’t know or like her, wanted her do die. Especially in such a way that signified attention. I would have never allowed any human psyche to take their own life.
They have NO RIGHT!
“Lucy, what have you found?” The sheriff, Mr Brown, asked.
Detective Lucy replied: “Well, no one actually knows what the crime is yet. Superficially, it does look like a mentally crippled drunk teenage girl cut her wrist while in a swamp dam.”
“Detective!” Tamia ran to Detective Lucy with a phone. She gave it to her.
When she saw whatever’s on the phone, her face frowned.
She…wept? “Look for any piece of evidence we can find, boys. I have a feeling we’re dealing with murder.”