“Get off me!” the girl with long dark hair yells in my face as she pushes against my chest with her surprisingly strong hands. I’ve seen her at school before, but I’ve never really noticed her until now.
She’s pretty cute, even now, with a dangerous mix of alcohols soaking her chest, neck, chin, and hair. I think a few drops reached her eyes because she looks like she’s blinking back tears.
“Oh, sorry,” I mumble stupidly as I roll over to release her from my weight. I lie there for a second, watching her get up and walk off. She’s taller than when she was on the ground.
I stand up, finally, and rub my right elbow which must have hit the ground in the fall. God, I’m stupid. Of course she looks taller standing up than lying down, idiot.
“Hey! Silas! My man!” I hear multiple people calling out at me, but I doubt they mean to spark up conversation. It sounded more like “Hey, thanks for the chance to get me super wasted!”
The basketball team insisted that I throw my own party announcing my return, which was an open invite to the whole school, plus a few people from different schools in the district. I remember this being a thing Dylan would be into, and maybe at the time, I was pretty hyped up about it, but now everything I see just looks like a mess for me to clean up tomorrow morning. I couldn’t say no, probably because they all knew my parents wouldn’t be back yet this week. I also have an image to maintain, the one I’ve spent two years with Dylan to create among these guys.
As I walk down a hallway downstairs, I hear sounds from the broom closet, even under all this loud thumping music. Curious, I pull open to find Adam inserting himself into Karen. They both continue their deed, even with the extra light pouring in from me opening the door. I blink at them awkwardly before closing the door while staring ahead. Adam and Karen is a weird combo, like a tall giraffe and a short donkey.
I head for the kitchen, where I hid all the good beer in the back of the fridge, which I’ve made off limits for the party. I grab a bottle and lean my back against the counter to watch all the people drinking their childhoods away. Teresa walks in with a mirror already in hand. She stops mid-stride when she sees me, checks herself in the mirror, and then closing it to approach me.
“Hey, handsome.” She sends a seductive smirk my way. I fight the urge to cringe. Last week, she tried to hit on me, failed, and ended up in bed with Kent. Same thing happened last month, but she chose Tyler.
“Hey,” I respond respectfully without meeting her psychotic gaze.
“You wanna take a walk outside to look at the stars? Maybe we can hang out alone somewhere…” Her voice sounds hopeful, but I’m sure I’ve made it clear before. I don’t want to be around her, or any of the other girls, in fact. Ever since I joined Dylan’s gang of boys in high school, these random girls kept throwing themselves in my way. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t sleep with a different girl every weekend. They come, they try, and they leave.
And I keep letting them, because as far as Dylan knew, I was banging chicks left and right. That’s the idea. He got the illusion of the brother he wanted, and I got the freedom from all things STD related.
For the longest time, I watched as girl after girl would leave Dylan’s room, half-dressed and ashamed. He never sees their faces the next morning, but I do, and while I do admit they are always smoking hot, there’s a particular look of guilt that I don’t like seeing. If that’s what sex causes, no thanks, I’ll wait for it organically.
“No, thanks, I’m fine.” I turn away from her. I knew better than to take her up on the offer of “hanging out” especially out in the dark. Still, I peer out the window to see two figures sitting on my tree swing. After Teresa walks off with some guy from the soccer team, I bring my beer out to the back porch, trying to see who was back there.
My backyard is dark and only lit by the porch, where I stand, and by the swing, where two people sat talking. I place my beer on a table, leaning forward with my hands resting on the railing. I squint my eyes to finally see the girl from earlier, except now she has her hair in a neat bun at the top of her head. Beside her is the soccer team captain, Damon. I remember talking to him a few times, but he was really quiet, like he was uncomfortable talking to someone like me.
I focus on the girl as she turns to him, laughing out loud and responding happily. I like the sound of her laugh, like it should be the laugh of a beautiful female lead in a romantic film. From here, I could see her profile and that she was wearing a jacket too big for her shoulders.
Probably his. Lucky guy.
I see them get up and immediately panic. They can’t see me standing here staring at them. I’ll look like the world’s handsomest stalker who gets his jollies on by watching couples flirt in the distant.
Lamest. I meant to think the world’s lamest stalker, not handsomest.
I swear, even with Dylan gone, he’s still inserting words into my thoughts.
I quickly grab my beer and walk quietly into the house. Inside, I am immediately hit by the suffocating stench of alcohol and sweat. Heading upstairs, I figure my best shot at fresh air was my upstairs balcony. While climbing the stairs, I spot at least a couple every few steps giving each other hickeys.
Once I reach the door to my room, I take in a deep breath and pray silently for there not to be some random people fucking in my room. I just changed my sheets this morning and I swear, someone’s getting punched in their bare naked testicles if I have to rewash them.
I peek into the room, one eye closed. Thank god, the coast is clear. I slip in and immediate reach for the door to step out into the cold breeze. I pull out my phone to check the time only to find at least 10 texts from different girls I vaguely remember from last year. They’re all probably at the party right now, but I’m too tired to deal with all this.
Suddenly, I hear the door close from inside the room and I turn to see the girl from earlier, letting her hair loose from her bun, tousling it as she bends over. Her hair looks damp, and falls in a cascade of soft waves mixed with straight locks.
The way she runs her fingers through it and then rumples it carelessly seems so mesmerizing to me. It’s such a small action, almost nothing to consider, but here I am, at a loss of words. That was when I realized that I had been holding my breath for an unhealthy amount of time. I nearly choke as I return my breathing to its normal rate, but as I turn back to her, I find her staring at me with wide eyes, frozen.
“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone was in here,” she stutters, “I’ll go-”
“No! No, it’s fine,” I struggle to find use of my vocabulary. What good is reading if I can’t even handle talking to a pretty girl? Then I remember what happened earlier… “I’m sorry about what happened earlier. They kept handing me drinks I didn’t want and-”
“It’s okay. I’m all cleaned up, see?” She tugs at a lock of hair, still damp. “So what are you doing out there?” She walks up to me, and I hold my breath.
She’s trying to step out onto the balcony, moron.
I return to my spot where I was watching the stars, very aware that she was only a few feet away from me, doing the same. We’re gazing at the same stars, in the same vicinity.
“You don’t know my name, do you?” She turns to me with an amused expression.
Oh crap I don’t. Gotta go on the offense! “Oh, and you know my name?”
“Oh, come on, I’m not stupid,” she responds, “You think I’d go to a ‘Welcome Home Silas’ party and not know the host?”
I don’t respond and she laughs. It sounds like heaven.
“You’re not usually like this. I mean I remember seeing you around but you’re pretty quiet.” I was going to stop at pretty, but that would make me sound stupid. And probably a little shallow.
“Yeah, well, thanks to your mystery juice in that shot glass that shot up my nostrils, plus a shot or two of vodka, I’m now perfectly buzzed. So this chick is currently a book, wide open!” She takes in a deep breath and releases it through her lips, which pucker just enough to stop my heart. The moonlight kisses her every feature, and I find myself wondering how I didn’t meet her sooner.
Dylan is why I couldn’t meet someone like her. He’s a jock who is friendly with everyone, but not friendly enough to remember everyone’s name and not friendly enough to engage in a proper conversation. He expected the same from me.
Mom and Dad never noticed, but then again, they were always away on separate business trips and then coming back only to go on getaways for their 600th honeymoon.
“So I can ask you anything?” I gulp a large amount of saliva, which had accumulated in my mouth due to the level of nervousness that I am currently facing.
“Yes, I’m a virgin.” She doesn’t even turn to see my reaction, which is a blank face, blinking in bewilderment. Not what I expected but good to know.
“Why did you think I was going to ask that?”
“I don’t like assumptions, but if I am at a party like this hosted by a person that I’ve heard enough for you to be, I would think you’d look into hooking up with someone by the end of the night.” She turns over, finally, with the light of the moon sparkling in her eyes. “By the way,” she says with a grin, “No thanks.”
“I was going to ask what your name was.” I gaze at her in awe. Who talks this composed while buzzed? I’ve met girls who had one sip of vodka and talked in nouns only.
And yet, this girl, out of all the other girls here, have found a way to make me want to laugh and also kick myself in the shins for acting dumb.
“Nuh uh. You’re not getting my name that easily. For a well known jock, you sure don’t know a lot of people well.”
“Well, I’m the more unpopular jock.”
“Oxymoron.” She taps her index finger on my nose and it was so unexpected that I chuckle.
“It sounds like you found an excuse to call me a moron,” I tease.
“No! I said oxymoron!” She takes in a deep breath and then mutters something I couldn’t understand. “Ngu quá!”
“What I meant before is, my brother’s the well known jock. I’m just… jock junior.”
She giggles and I’m glad she got my joke. “I get it. ’Cause you’re a junior this year,” she tilts half her body, torso up, over to the side as her hand clings to the railing, causing a waterfall of hair to spill over, “You are a junior this year, right? I couldn’t tell anymore. Jocks are just jocks to me.”
“What do you mean?” I take a step closer to her and I am hit with whatever she shampooed her hair with. I don’t know, probably rainbows and butterflies.
“I don’t talk to people who live under the high expectations as far as reputations go. It sounds exhausting. Plus, I’ve been in the boy’s locker room before and I’ve made up my mind on not hanging around creatures that secrete those odors.” To that thought, she scrunches her face, as if to force everything on there to wrinkle closer to the tip of her nose.
“Not all of-”
“Oh please! None of that ‘not all guys’ crap. I know what I know and I know I’ve seen, heard, smelt, felt, and even tasted enough to know that what I know is legit.”
Am I dumb or did that make sense?
“Well, I’m sure you’ve learned to get used to it by now, I mean, your boyfriend is a jock, too, you know.” I smile at myself, proud that I came up with a coherent reasoning in the presence of this girl who keeps knocking me off my feet.
“Who?” She looks confused.
“Aren’t you with that guy Damon? I saw you on the swing earlier. By the way, that’s a sturdy swing. Great for-” I don’t get to finish because she hastily pushes her index finger onto the center of my lips, squishing them and making me look like a fish underwater.
“Don’t finish that sentence! And no, Damon’s just a guy I’m helping out in schoolwork.”
I mean... Oh. Okay, cool.
Following a vibrating sound, she pulls her phone from the pocket of her shorts, which, oh god I just noticed her legs, were a pretty denim color with flowers on the sides, and reads a new text.
She was wearing a deep red v-neck tank top, though she carried a jacket with her. I’m sure it was warm in the house with all those people, and right now I’m glad that was the case because the tank top hugged her body enough to form an elegant silhouette, but was loose enough to suggest the lack of outfit planning. She probably wore this all day to school today. Why hadn’t I seen her?
After answering her text, she turns to me and offers a warm smile. “Looks like I gotta go. Can’t sneak out for so long.”
As she turns to the glass door, I spot a bruise on her arm. “Hey,” I say without thinking, “What happened?” My hand reaches up to her arm, where the bruise laid out in a circle.
“Nothing, it’s just a bruise,” she almost whispers while slipping her jacket on, pulling the hoodie up. If she dressed like that to school, it’s no wonder I didn’t see her. “Bye,” she waves as she leaves me to my own thoughts.