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Chapter 3

Nathan parks his car in the enormous driveway of the grand three-story house that belongs to the wealthiest family in town. The brave child of Simone and Luke, Henry, is throwing one of the wildest parties I’ve ever seen.

As I climb out of the car, all around me, drunk teenagers are screaming and jumping on cars that are piled together on the driveway. Party-goers are everywhere, some are standing on balconies, pouring bottles of beer onto the heads of those below them--some are dancing in a daze to music that isn’t there, others are kissing or getting more than friendly with each other on the ground.

And this is just the outside.

“Thought you said I wasn’t missing much?” I say to Nathan with a smile.

He takes my pained hand and leads me towards the steps of the house. “That was an hour ago,” he says. “I’m pretty sure your imagination can work out the rest.”

“I don’t really think I need to imagine,” I say as I step over a drunk girl that has fallen at my feet.

The inside of the house is even more chaotic. The music can be heard first, as it blasts through speakers that I unfortunately have to wait beside as too many crowd an archway into the main room. I begin swaying, nudging my side into Nathan’s as I go along with the base. He dances back, moving his shoulders in a giddy moment of rejoice.

He grips my hand tighter as he spots an opportunity to push past people, and we both squeeze our way through a gap that although seemed like a good idea at the time, definitely isn’t. There’s so many bodies, so many drunks stumbling into me, and even though I’m in pain from my throbbing arm I manage to push them away from me, and I don’t feel guilty as they crash to the floor.

Nathan takes me over to the other side of the enormous, luxurious lounge--and I stare at the glistening, polished chandelier on the ceiling. It must be amazing to live in a house like this, to live a lifestyle like this, everything around me, although partly trashed, is still poignant and elegant.

Nathan stops us at a long table against a wall that plays host to so many bottles of alcohol that I’m spoilt for choice. I take a bottle of blue liquid that I’ve never heard the name of, and I use the bottle opener to open it, before bringing it quickly to my lips.

“Are all of these people from your high school?” I shout to Nathan over the noise.

Nathan nods. “Pretty much.”

I scan my eyes around all the drunk faces. Some I recognize from other parties, some I know well because they’re Nathan’s friends, but the rest are a complete blur. I feel like an outcast at this party, because they all know each other. They see each other every day, they’ve known each other for years, probably since infancy. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying myself regardless, I don’t come to these parties just because Nathan attends them, I come because I want to feel the thrill of this kind of atmosphere. I want to blend in. I want to make friends. I want to be normal.

But above all, I just want to hear music. These teenagers don’t know how much they take it for granted. How much they take everything for granted. And conveniently, I’m always going to be the only one that sees it.

I tip the bottle vertical above my throat, I don’t know what the hell this drink is, but it’s pretty damn good. I finish it, placing it back onto the table as Nathan laughs at me.

“What?” I say, reaching for another.

“And you say I’m the one with the drinking problem.”

“Oh, you are,” I say. “The intervention is coming soon.”

“Bring it on,” he says. “Just be aware I’ll be drunk throughout it.”

I laugh, bringing the next one to my lips and I eye him over the bottle. “Let’s just have fun tonight, okay? None of that predictable trash talk.”

“What trash talk?” he says, faking an offended response. “Discussing our future?”

“Yes, no discussions,” I warn him with a grin. “I’m putting a future-talk ban on tonight.”

“Oh no, not a ban,” he says while snickering. “How many bans have I broken so far?” He stares into the air, blinking at the ceiling. “I think tonight will make five hundred and thirty.”

I narrow my eyes. “I mean it. It’s a ban ban.”

“What’s a ban ban?”

“It will end in you never getting laid again, ban.”

“Ah,” he gasps, pointing his finger. “You just future-talked.”

“That doesn’t count,” I say, smiling as I glance away, but then I consider it. “Actually, it does.”

“And I can’t even be proud of myself for calling you out on it,” he says with a sigh.

“Your poor future sex life,” I say.

“Yeah, like I have a present one.”

“Oh!” I laugh, hitting his shoulder. “It’s like that, is it?”

He relaxes into me, and I use the moment to wrap my arms around his shoulders, while singing to the song that’s playing against his lips.

“Stop,” he says. “Stop singing.”

I ignore him, singing even louder, and he pushes me away from him, while covering his face in embarrassment.

He jumps on me, suddenly picking me up and he twirls me around as I laugh out the last sentence of the song. My body gently glides down his, fitting perfectly against him, and we both ignore the party around us as we look at each other.

I never thought I’d even date someone, let alone fall in love with someone. And although Nathan has been my rock for these past few months, every time I take a glance at the future he presents to me, I see a darkness surrounding it. I know deep down that I can never truly be with him in the open, I can never have that future with him that he believes in so much.

And it kills me.

It kills me to stare into his grey, homely eyes and see such an extravagant amount of love looking back. The love that I have always wanted. Enough love to make up for the lack of it from two other people. And it kills me because as much as I want to, I just can’t accept it. I can’t accept something I’m not familiar with, even when I know it’s real, even when I see it before me, so perfect and defined.

No matter how hard I look into that light, I’ll always find myself facing an abyss of nothing.

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