How (not) to attend a party
Why was she here?
The fraternity house was crammed up past its limit and yet they kept shoving new people inside, squishing them like sardines. The music’s volume had reached a deafening level and everything she touched was sticky or wet; she was not sure which one she preferred.
Alcohol was flowing left and right, red cups were being passed around like candies, and people getting louder as they drank more. Nobody was paying attention to where they were going and simply all bumped into each other, elbows digging into ribs and hands slapping everywhere.
This was not her scene.
She made a point to avoid parties and she had managed to stick to it this long. She had her schooling that required all of her attention and this was not a distraction that she needed or even enjoyed.
The humidity of the summer caused the air itself to stick to her skin on top of everyone’s layer of sweat.
“Emily,” warned Tracy as she glared at her friend. “Please try to have some fun.”
The day before college.
That was when Emily’s boyfriend had decided to end their relationship. That led to Emily living a very sheltered life during her first semester, forgoing all of the experiences one should have when they move on to college.
Apparently, Tracy was done waiting for her to get over it as she would so lovingly put it.
Monday would mark the beginning of their second semester and Tracy said she refused to let her best friend waste away for another year because according to her, Emily saying she disliked parties wasn’t a valid reason since she had never been to one.
But she didn’t need to go to know. She knew she didn’t like them.
“It might be fun.”
She doubted that. “Tracy, can’t we just go back to the dorm?”
“Emily, if I see you sit on that damn blue chair one more time, I will lose it.”
“If after two hours you’re still this desperate to go, we’ll leave.” Emily was about to speak but Tracy stopped her by raising her hand to silence her. “But you have to try. Really try.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Fine.” The only reason she was even agreeing to this was Tracy. Her friend had been there for her high and low and well - she probably owed her that much.
Victory flowing through her blood, Tracy displayed a large smile. She turned around until she spotted the table she was looking for; the alcohol. She grabbed two red cups and handed one to Emily while keeping the other for herself.
“Tracy,” she protested.
“Ah, ah, ah!” she warned with a judgy finger pointed at Emily. “You said you would.”
She sighed as she stared at the weirdly pinkish liquid swirling inside her plastic cup. The last months had left a bitter taste in her mouth - the breakup, the start of school, the broken dreams.
They were supposed to get an apartment together, near the school, and then suddenly, Emily had found herself with nowhere to go. Tracy had luckily gotten a room alone on campus and offered to share with her, saving her butt.
Cole had been her first and only boyfriend. Everyone had always gone on and on about how they were supposed to go the distance… Then he blindsided her and dumped her.
She had seen him once-or-twice since but - he was fine. And she struggled to be normal in his presence after they spent four years together only for it to end like that. Part of her thought, maybe if she gave him space, maybe if she let him be, they would find their way back to each other.
So, Emily had used that mindset to avoid the dating scene altogether.
Yes, she was a coward.
The moment Tracy had said the word frat she had said no. Fortunately, it was not Cole’s frat and she hoped that meant he would be nowhere to be seen. Wasn’t there supposed to be rivalry between fraternities?
She hoped so.
And one it was.
She brought the rim to her lips, the taste already disgusting her, but she did not stop. She allowed the liquid to burn her throat as it made its way down and she grimaced the whole time.
A gazillion to go.
“It’ll be fun.”
That remained to be proven.
Minutes turned into nearly two hours and despite the loud music, Tracy’s fruitless attempts, and the drinks… Emily’s level of fun had not risen any higher. Her head had gotten a lot woozier but except for that, she was not feeling at ease.
No, instead she found herself angry. It was not as though she was attempting to be a lurker in the corner but… this whole party made her realize that all she had was Tracy. She did not know anyone, she had never been to one of these parties before.
People shouted words, played games, greeted each other - and she was not part of it. Her first semester had involved her locking herself away in her room. Even Tracy knew half the people present and she was not even a party girl.
Everybody had been busy making a life for themselves and socializing and she had been…alone.
At this point, she could not tell the difference between her regret and the bitterness that came with the amount of alcohol she drank.
She felt bad.
To top it off?
And now she had lost Tracy.
It had taken Emily nearly 20 minutes simply to locate a bathroom and during that time her friend had slipped away from her. The quicker she found her, the faster they would be out of there.
If Tracy wanted to remain, she would not argue, but she had to get out of there. She was uncomfortable, out of her element, and - and she felt like a moron. And yes, Tracy had been right about these parties.
She could see the appeal, she honestly could.
But that only worked for someone who had many friends and a social life.
It did not apply to her.
Yes, it was 100% her fault. But, really, she didn’t want to burn twice. Was that her fault?
Her eyes darted into the room, trying to locate her best friend, searching every head for a dark-haired ponytail and a shiny white skirt. Unfortunately for her, she found a different kind of shiny.
Blond hair. Her heart stopped beating, time froze, and while her throat clammed up her toes curled. Her gaze darted as she clutched her hand; it was him. Everything around her stopped moving except for the image of him walking in - with someone.
Someone that was not her.
His hand was wrapped around a girl’s fingers, the red fingernails sticking out. She had porcelain skin, perfect long dark hair framing her face, and piercing brown eyes.
He had a girlfriend. But - he had not been ready. He wanted to live his life, see the world —
He did not want her.
It was not about the world. It was not about finding himself and knowing what college was all about.
All that was a load of crap.
It was about her.
Her heart dropped to her stomach, while her mouth slacked. Her eyes were void of any emotions as she found herself voiceless, not even able to form tears. She needed to get out of there.
She did not care how, she only knew she needed to flee the scene before she was found out. She began walking backward, her back hitting different people. He was staying by the door; she could not make her escape.
He would see her and if he saw her she would die. She was a hunted deer trapped with no escape. She could run away. No, she could not. If she ran, she would attract his attention and he would… he might say her name, he might chase her down… and she could not.
Not right now.
She watched as he turned his head - and she panicked.
Oh for - he was coming her way. Many ideas flashed through her mind but none of them would work.
“Hey watch it.”
She reacted to the voice since this time the comment was directed at her. She was unable to see the speaker’s face but she took notice of his brown hair as he looked away from her and resume his conversation with his friends, the incident now past him.
He was near a wall.
A wall could work.
Walls were good for hiding.
Hiding - she could hide.
Her brain was struggling to form a full idea, the alcohol slowing her down. She was scattered only focusing on the present moment and trying to figure out a way out of this impossible situation.
Anything was better than facing Cole. Emily did not think twice about it as she grabbed the guy’s arm and tugged him in her direction.
“I’m really sorry,” she slurred out. Wow, what happened to her speech? “I just - my ex is here. And I can’t. I - help me.” She could feel the tears pooling in her eyes.
The alcohol affected her brain and she could not make a clearer sentence than this. She hoped it would be enough.
It was all the warning he received before she grabbed the hem of his blue t-shirt and crashed her lips on his. At first, he felt tense against her body and her small hands kept the cotton fabric tightly held as though to prevent him from fleeing.
After a beat, she felt him relax which helped her do the same. It was insane, she was insane. His large hands found her hips and he gripped her firmly before she felt the wall against her back.
He backed them into the corner, his tall frame towering over her as he took control of the kiss. His lips moved smoothly against hers, washing away the taste of alcohol from her mouth. Warmth irradiated from him, increasing the feeling of buzz she experienced from the alcohol.
It felt like he was crushing her with his much larger body as his tongue wrapped around hers.
Her cheeks turned red, her body became like lava and she found herself leaning her head back as his hands moved upwards, squeezing her hips. Dizzy. That was the word. For a moment, it all stopped; the party, the incoming doom.
The kiss lasted a few more moments until finally, she felt him pull away from her, leaving her lips glistening and swollen. Her eyes were half-lidded as she tried to make out his face, taking notice of his blue eyes.
As she did so, she saw the blond hair far behind his head. He had gone passed her - and he had not noticed her. The sight of Cole walking away gave her a cold return to reality.
It was all she had time to say before she dashed away from his view. She bumped into a few people - and objects - on her way out, but she made it. Tracy be damned, she would text her.
As she walked away from the front door, she wiped her lips with the back of her hand - they were still moist from previous ministrations.
She had kissed a stranger.
She had kissed someone for the first time since Cole.
“You owe me you know.”
Tracy came out of the bathroom, a yellow towel wrapped around her long black locks. “I was really worried.”
Tracy had been worried that something happened to her or that someone had spiked her drink. She had not appreciated her little disappearance… but then she should have stayed with her if she didn’t want Emily to disappear…
“I told you, I didn’t feel good,” Emily explained as she shoved one of her giant books into her brown leather bag.
She did not want to share with Tracy what happened - including the whole Cole thing and the kissing a stranger thing. Tracy had been begging her to see other people and go on dates and if she knew she kissed a perfect stranger, she would never hear the end of it.
It was better this way.
“I’ll be late for my class,” she explained as she threw her bag over her shoulder. “But, I will treat you to a nice dinner tonight,” she offered with a smile.
She offered Tracy a smile and a wave of the hand before she exited their room, her back tensed. A sigh rolled off her lips as she the door behind her. The beginning of the semester was a little stressful for her.
She did not know what Cole’s classes and schedules were. What if she ran into him in the halls or worse; what if they had a class together? She could not live through being stuck in the same space as him, 3 hours a week, every week.
It was pathetic - she knew.
At first, it was because she didn’t know how not to be with him. He was her best friend, her everything. Now she found out he had moved on from her, from them… Part of her feared she might explode, lash out… and in the end, only make a fool of herself.
She had foolishly thought they could find their way back to each other… and he had been busy finding someone else…
Why couldn’t he have told her the truth?
She walked through the halls as she stared down at her phone. Usually, she organized herself the night before but Tracy’s little party had made her behind on her school schedule.
A-235, Hall F.
That was the little note she had left in her electronic agenda. She headed straight for it while glancing at her cell phone in her hand. The numbers 8:21 were staring back at her, flashing in white.
She preferred to be more than 9 minutes early to class, but it would do for today. As the door came into view, Emily could not help but frown as she felt a shiver travel down her spine.
Why was the big wooden door closed?
She took quiet steps as she approached it and peeked through the tiny rectangle window, trying to see what was happening inside. Her eyes widened; the classroom was empty and void of life.
How could it possibly be empty? There was no way she was the first to arrive.
Panic filled her chest, her heart thundering with every beat it took and she forced herself to run her tongue over her dry lips. Emily grabbed the handle and opened the door, listening to it creaking.
She went inside, hoping it would provide her with more answers on the current situation. Unfortunately for her, the classroom was just as empty as it had appeared from the outside. She let her arms fall to her side as her guts twisted, nausea rising in her throat.
Had she looked wrong?
Did she think it was a different day than it was? She pulled out her calendar from her phone, panicked eyes staring at the screen, and she confirmed what she feared; she was in the right location.
It was what was on her phone, and it was the right day.
She had never been late for a class before… never in her life. What was she going to do now?
Her head spun in direction of the door as the sound echoed through her ears. Someone else was coming in! Maybe she had indeed been early and it so happened that nobody else cared about being on time to class.
Emily watched as a tall man walked in, with tousled brown hair, and short bangs covering the right side of his forehead. She was about to shyly inquire about the class when she suddenly found herself staring into deep blue eyes.
Blue eyes that she recognized.
It was not possible.
No, no, no.
It was a bad joke, it had to be - because it could not be.
He was the guy.
Her mouth opened, only to close again. Did he recognize her too? Should she be saying something? Maybe apologize again? Dear god - this was the end of her. She was going to die of shame right here in this spot.
“That ain’t right,” he said as he glanced around at the empty classroom. “Was the class canceled?”
Oh god - he was talking to her. Words were actually coming out of his mouth. Words that were addressed to her. A question. That she would have to answer. And she had to try and pretend that she was not dying of embarrassment. She could do it… right?
“Hm, I, eh, I don’t think so…” That sounded perfectly normal, right? Not at all like a crazy chick who had forced a kiss on him.
“Then where the fuck is everybody?”
“I’m not sure.” She could not even hear the sound of her own voice over her heartbeat.
As she turned her head to face him, he frowned. “I know you.”
“I don’t think so,” she replied before tilting her head forward, forcing her brown bangs to cover a portion of her face.
“You’re the girl!”
“The girl who kissed me!”
Really? How could he tell so easily? It had been dark, and - alcohol and noises! Well… she had been drunk, she had no idea if he had been. She had hoped.
“I really don’t think so,” she repeated, clearing her throat as if it would change her voice.
He smirked at her. “I recognize you.”
“Came for seconds?”
He was grinning, so proud of himself as though he was God’s gift to women. Who did he think he was? Did he just - Seriously? Without thinking, she swung her bag filled with her books, hitting him.
You’re the one who kissed him without consent, Emily. Don’t hit the man on top of it!
If anything, she should have hit someone else… A liar pants on fire.
“Hey you kissed me,” he pointed out with a smirk.
Yes. She had already made that argument. In her head. By herself. Also - it hadn’t been to seduce him. It was not her fault that she had been in a jam, and he had been her only way to escape that situation.
Not that she wanted to share her love life situation with a perfect stranger… A strange who she had just hit.
“It was an accident.”
“Kissing me or hitting me?”
“Just -ugh forget it! I’m sorry I kissed you and hit you.” Yes, Emily. Nice apology. This was exactly why she wasn’t ready to deal with Cole. “I need to figure out how to get to class.”
As if on cue, a ding echoed through the emptiness of the classroom, getting both of their attention. He finally broke eye contact with her to reach into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out his cell phone.
Emily waited as he stared at his phone with knitted eyebrows. It was not too long before he was groaning, tilting his head backward in desperation.
“We’re in the wrong classroom.”
“The teacher switched the room.”
No that could not be! If they had changed the classroom, she would know! She would have seen it yesterday when she… she did not…. Do it. Because of the party, she did not do her usual pre-school little preparation routine, and now for the first time in her life, she was going to be late for her class.
Great, just freaking great.
The amount of anxiety building inside of her forced tears to sting her eyes - she was stuck between him, Cole, and the stress of school and she was not certain how much she could do without having to express that anxiety.
“Where is it?”
“Building next door.” His head dropped forward. “Come on,” he said before sighing.
She wanted to protest against him, and she wanted t say that she was not going to follow him… but she could not say that. She had to follow him; it was her only option. She had not done much exploring and she was not very familiar with the many labyrinths of the hallways of her school.
He seemed to know where he was going and if she followed him, she had a better chance of making it to her classes without being insanely late. However, she did intend on keeping a distance between them - there was no reason to give him any more ideas.
Already, their little kiss had apparently been very misleading, even though she had sort of explained it to him before kissing him. It had been done out of necessity and not desire.
Why did her life fucking suck?