"Hey. Let's get out of here." I looked around nervously and felt so out of place.
It was a little after midnight and there were so many people here. Everyone dressed like they were at a club including Liz—except me. I looked down at my own outfit—cropped cardigan over a simple dress—and felt extremely overdressed.
I don't belong here.
I wanted to crawl back into my warm comfy bed and finished the book I was reading.
This kind of setting usually made me anxious: loud, crowded, messy and filled with mostly drunken people. What made me feel the most uneasy was intoxicated people—they were not clear minded and couldn't be reasoned with in case they got out of control.
My cautiousness kicked in even though nothing bad had happened yet. Typical.
"Are you crazy?! We just got here." Liz huffed in annoyance. "It took me almost an hour to persuade you to go to this house party with me." She gave me another stern look and said with finality. "No. We are staying. Look. How about you try to give it half an hour or so before you decide on hating it."
"Fine. One hour." I compromised.
She sighed, shook her head and continued. "I still can't believe this is your first real party. Come on, let's have some fun! You do know how to have fun don't you?"
Liz, short for Elizabeth, was my roommate. We had met during our last year of high school when her family moved into town. We clicked instantly and even decided to go to the same university.
"Of course, I do! Maybe just not the kind of fun you're thinking of..." I tried to defend myself.
What's wrong with reading books and watching movies for fun? They're not only fun but also safe.
Even though Liz and I were best friends, we were total opposites at times; she loved experiencing new things and wanted to make her college experience as worthwhile as she could while I would be content simply going to class and getting good grades.
She was the definition of an extrovert and I—the introvert.
I had never cared for alcohol, parties, drugs, or anything people my age were usually curious about and wanted to experiment with. I tried to stay away from things that could lead to bad consequences. For instance, if one drank too much alcohol, she could be vomiting and have a splitting headache the next day. No, thank you.
As I followed Liz deeper into the crowd, weaving around people was quite a challenge in itself. Liz looked back at me and yelled, "What do you want to drink?"
"Water. Thanks." I yelled back due to the loud music.
"Are you serious?" She gave me an incredulous look. "We. Are. At. A. Party. And you want a water? How are we even best friends? No. I'm getting you a drink. A real drink. You're 19 now, you definitely need to try at least one drink."
"I don't think age has anything to do with it." I mumbled to myself since Liz had been drinking at the age of sixteen.
"Well, the legal drinking age is 21." I loudly reminded her.
She ignored me and went into the kitchen to grab us drinks. She came back a few minutes later with two red plastic cups in hand.
I took one and skeptically looked inside. "Do I have to? It smells gross." I made a face.
"Stop being a baby and try it! It's just Gatorade and vodka." She took a big gulp as if to prove a point.
I sighed. Feeling resigned, I took a sip and choked. "Ugh. That's disgusting! Sorry, but I don't know how you drink this stuff."
Liz rolled her eyes. "You're probably the only one who thinks that. Everyone around you is chugging it down like water."
"Okay. So I have special taste-buds that can't stand the taste of alcohol. Sue me." I laughed. At that moment, someone bumped into me, again, for what seemed like the tenth time and made me realize that it was getting more cramped. "Let's go to another spot. I can barely move around here and it sucks screaming at you every time I want to say something."
"We can go outside for a bit then." Liz said and led the way.
"Didn't you say you were meeting someone here tonight?" I asked once we made it out into the fresh, yet slightly chilly October air.
"Oh yeah. I'm meeting Nick here, the guy from Psych class that I've been telling you about. I think he's bringing a friend." Her voice held a tone of implication when she said the word friend. Suddenly, she waved to someone behind me. "Speak of the devil. Hey! Over here!" She yelled.
I turned to see two guys coming toward us. It was a good thing that we were not inside or else they would have had a hard time finding us—me being five feet two and Liz being five feet four. We would've been buried in that crowd.
"Have you guys been here long?" Nick asked with a smile.
"Not really. Maybe 20 minutes at most." Liz gestured to me and said, "This is my best friend, Anna-Mae. Anna-Mae, this is Nick."
"Hi." I smiled.
"Hi." He smiled back and gestured to the guy standing next to him. "And this is my friend, Jason. Jason, meet Elizabeth and Anna-Mae.
Liz and I lifted our free hands as a way of greeting him. He returned a smile and nodded in acknowledgment. Nick and Jason looked to be a couple inches under six feet. Both had brown hair but Jason's was slightly darker. Nick seemed easy going while Jason was somewhat tense. Maybe he didn't like party scenes like me.
"I'm gonna go and get a beer." Nick said. He was about to turn to leave when Liz asked him to get her a jungle juice. "Sure thing," he replied.
After Nick left, Jason looked at me and said, "I'm gonna get a beer as well. Do you also want another drink?"
I looked at the cup in my hand that was still full and laughed. "No. Thank you. I have yet to finish this one."
Liz immediately interjected, "Yes! Please get her a jungle juice. She might like this one since it has more stuff mixed into it."
I gave her a doubtful look.
"So..." Liz nudged my shoulder as we watched Jason's back disappeared into the house. "What do you think?"
"Jason. Duh!" She rolled her eyes.
"He seems nice." I answered easily.
"And?" She prodded.
"And what?" I laughed, unclear as to what she wanted me to say.
"What do you mean and what?" She asked, slightly surprised. "Aren't you a little bit interested? He's cute."
I laughed again. "Liz! I just met the guy. I won't know if I'm interested until I get to know him better."
"Well then, are you interested in getting to know him better?" She asked slowly, watching for my reaction.
"Hmmm. I really don't know Liz. We just started our first year of college and..." I stopped mid-sentence since Nick and Jason were coming toward us with our drinks.
And...I'm just not ready.
College had only started a few months ago and I just wanted to focus on that right now. Education came first, everything else second—a phrase that was embedded into my brain.
Jason handed me the drink and I wiggled my small nose. "It doesn't look or smell any better than the first drink."
The guys laughed and Jason said, "It's actually not that bad. Give it a try. You might like it."
Seeing his enthusiasm, I decided to believe him and took a sip.
He was wrong.
I did not care for it.
At least this time, I managed to keep it down instead of choking and making a fool of myself.
We were all having a good time and laughing at something that Nick said when Jason interrupted. "Are you cold? Do you wanna go inside?"
He must've seen me shivered. I could feel my teeth starting to chatter but I didn't want to say anything. I didn't know how Liz wasn't cold. She had on a crop top and a short skirt; I had on more layers than her.
As if hearing my thought, she said. "The alcohol helps keeps me warm."
The guys led us back inside. We managed to squeeze through the tight crowd and found a spot to dance since it would be too difficult trying to have a conversation with the music blasting. As we started dancing, the feeling of uneasiness came back.
I looked over at Liz and she was having a great time with Nick. Our eyes locked and she shouted, "Are you having fun?"
"Yes!" I yelled back and gave her a small smile. I couldn't bring myself to say 'no' and have her eyes tell me that I was being a party pooper.
I tried my best to ignore the anxiety that started to build. However, I just couldn't seem to enjoy myself. The tight group of people, the loud music, the smell of booze, the smell of sweats, the feeling of Jason grinding right behind me—the combination seemed to suffocate me.
After enduring what appeared to be the longest fifteen minutes of my life, I slowly edged myself out toward the entrance to get some fresh air. As I was making my way to the exit, I realized I was still holding on to the drink I've barely touched and couldn't find any trash can around to properly throw it away. I figured I could just empty it into the yard once I got outside.
When I got to the doorframe, someone from behind bumped forcefully into me. My arm jerked and my cup hit the back of the person in front of me.
I stared, in horror, as the white jacket immediately darkened as it soaked up the reddish-brown liquid.
"Oh my gosh! I am so so sorry!" I yelled over the loud music as my eyes widened in shock. Embarrassed, I quickly looked around to see if there was something, anything at all, to help salvage the situation but none appeared.
Crap! I'm in big trouble.
Without thinking, I lifted up my arm and started dabbing at his back—hoping the sleeve would take up some of the juice.
The guy in front of me towered over me and made me feel even smaller. He was at least six feet with a lean build. I mentally prepared myself for the worst.
I stood there, slightly trembling as my forearm continued to do its job.
I waited for him to turn around to confront me—fully expecting a drunk to go off on me—but instead, he grabbed my wrist roughly and pulled me outside.
The guy next to him, bleached hair with an earring dangling from one ear, laughed and followed us out. "Looks like we got another eager candidate."
"W-wait. Stop! W-what are you doing?" I tried yanking my arm back but he had on a death grip.
"Taking you back to my place so we can fuck."
Alright, hopefully this is the final time I'm gonna change up this story 😭😭😭
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