XXXVII. Golden Party
I know it’s cliche to think this, but - I feel like a princess.
I grab the dress and swirl once more before a giggle like action burst out of my lungs.
“What’s so funny in there?” Josh screams from outside the bathroom.
“Nothing,” I shout back.
“Nothing sounds like something! I’m coming in!”
When I heard the rattling sound of the doorknob, I slammed back against the door. “No! Don’t enter!”
Josh manages to crack the door open slightly, “Why not?”
“Because! I’m in the dress for the party tonight, and you can’t see it!”
“We’re going to the party together,” Josh said in a dull voice.
Josh and I decided to go together so that we can be each other plus one.
In a way, it works.
“Yeah, but I haven’t put on my makeup, and it’ll expel all the magic in the dress if you see me ugly!” My brows furrow together, and I repeat the words to try to make some sense of what I’m saying.
Josh exhales, “Fine. Fine. I will see it tonight when I pick you up.”
“That makes no sense. We’re roommates.”
“Not allowing me to see the dress without your makeup on despite having to see you every day without it makes sense?”
My eyes narrow, “Touche.”
“I’m off to a meeting. Call me if you need anything.” The door fully closes.
When I heard a distant door slam, I peek my head out of the bathroom to see an empty room. One foot outward and then the other, I swirl around the room until I reach the tall frame mirror. I halt my actions and flip my hair back, “Hello, fabulous lady. Would you like to dance tonight?” I wink to myself.
Then, I place a hand on my chest, “Oh, I don’t know. If I danced with you, then I must dance with all the men who asked me before you.”
I flip my hair again to change my persona, “Then, you shall simply dance with only me,” my eyes narrow, “Because you, the most beautiful woman in this room, belong to me.”
I threw my head back in a fainting like manner and rested my hand above my forehead. “If you want me, you must duel every man here.”
“Then, duel, I shall,” I deepen my voice before grabbing my invisible sword. “En-gaaaahhhhh!” My invisible sword dropped to the ground when I saw a guy standing at the door.
“What are you doing?” Ricardo asks.
I smile, “Fighting for a maiden’s hand?”
His eyes drop down, and then it motions back up. He nods slowly, “I see. Therapy must be going really well, isn’t it?”
I tilt my head, “I’m not in therapy.”
“Consider being in it.” He made his way towards the bunk bed and threw a duffle bag on top of it. Finally, snapping back into reality and out of my embarrassment - I’m still embarrassed - I realized he was quite sweaty.
“Went to the gym?”
Ricardo halts his action of taking off his shoes before resuming it. “Yeah.” He places his shoes on the shoe rack.
I scratch my head, “How was it?”
Ricardo exhales and stands up straight. He folded his arms, very muscular arms, “Do you really care?”
“I care enough to make a conversation?”
Ricardo chuckles, a tiny one before nodding. He settles down on his bed, causing it to creak, “It was good.”
My fingers tap against the side of my dress, attempting to fight the awkwardness between us. Ricardo was still staring at me.
“I’m going to go change.”
Ricardo didn’t respond.
Quickly, I grabbed my regular clothes and went to the restroom. I locked the door - Josh installed it not too long ago after Ricardo moved in. Which reminds me, I was a fool not to lock the door earlier.
I sat inside the bathroom with my phone for nearly an hour, hoping Ricardo left.
It’s not like I don’t want to socialize with him, but I’m slightly afraid of my potentially mafia-linked roommate.
My wish didn’t come true.
After I changed, Ricardo was still inside the room. His body rests comfortably on the bed, an arm underneath his head. I can hear a snoring sound.
Steadily, I tiptoe towards Ricardo to see him fast asleep.
“You’re so much more handsome when you’re not talking,” I whispered underneath my breath.
I grin while lifting a finger, making my way towards his squishy cheek. It’s the dumbest idea in the world, and I don’t know what type of insane food I ate earlier to make me think this was a good idea.
Without a second breath, a hand grasps my wrist, and instantly I was pulled onto a warm mattress.
At that moment, it feels like a large dosage of liquid adrenaline has been injected right into my bloodstream - my body tingles, similar to the way it feels whenever Josh touches me.
I wasn’t used to it.
The intense stare from another male who isn’t Josh.
I can hear a heartbeat.
He smells different from Josh.
“What do you want?” His breath strays across my pink cheeks.
“No!” I shouted, causing Ricardo to loosen his hold. Instantly, I rolled off his bed and onto the floor. I scramble towards my bed, but I didn’t make it. Instead, I sat on the floor with my hair scramble across my face. I point a finger at Ricardo, “Don’t you dare do what you’re going to do!”
“You know what you were going to do earlier!”
He sat on his bed, “And exactly what was I going to do?”
Ricardo scoffs, “You were the one who walked all the way here and touched me.” He stood up and made his way towards me.
Instantly, I scramble back towards my bed, “No! Stay on your side of the room!”
Ricardo stops walking and crosses his arms,” Joshie Pooh gets to be over there,” I can hear the taunting in his voice. “Why can’t I?”
My eyes widen at his declaration, “Because-” I swallow, “Josh is different!”
“He’s a girl?”
“What? No! He’s a boy!”
“I’m a boy.” I can hear the bed creak.
“I’ve known Josh longer, and he’s my best friend.”
I can feel a hot breath across my red ear, “I can also be your best friend.”
When I feel the blanket being removed, I grab the pepper spray from underneath the pillow.
Let’s say it wasn’t me that was screaming like a little girl.
I cannot believe the number of times I am invited to the principal’s office. Mr.Davenson exhales for the umpth time before he pressed his forehead further into the tangled fists, “Why? Why are you two back here?”
“Because the bitch pepper sprayed me.”
I didn’t dare look up from my folded hands.
“Miss Vaughn?” Mr.Davenson called for me.
My lower lip poured outward, “He was on my bed!”
“Joshua Greyson slept on her bed every night!”
I gasped, striking a glare towards Ricardo, who had a smirking face. “Tattletale!”
“What are you? Five?” He said mockingly.
“At least I’m not a tattletale!”
“Miss Vaughn, is that true?” Mr. Davenson’s lethal question strikes me.
I look back down towards my folded hands.
Mr.Davenson exhales, “At this school, we do not prohibit sexual relations among students.” I almost choked on my saliva when he said that. “Because we know we cannot stop you.”
Mr.Davenson pressed a button.
“Yes, Mr.Davenson?” The secretary said.
“Bring in two Blue Boxes.”
Not too long after, the secretary brought in two Blue Boxes. I can feel her judgemental stare.
Mr.Davenson gestures to us to grab one each.
I grab one and open the box. This time, I did choke on my saliva.
“I want you both to watch the videos in regards to STD, protections, consequences, and consents. Then, I want you to learn how to put on a condom properly.”
“I’m a girl!” I said.
“Yes, I am aware of that. Hence, it’s the reason why I called you Miss,” he responds, “After two weeks, someone will call and schedule you an appointment to take an exam.”
I didn’t know how to respond to this situation appropriately.
He smiles, “For as long as Pandora Academy had been found, we never once had an incident where students are impregnated. We do not want to start now.”
Mr.Davenson looks at me, “Learn to use condoms and birth controls for safe sex.”
He turns his head towards Ricardo, “Learn what the word consent means, and you won’t get pepper spray next time.”
He looks like he is so done with us.
So done with life.
We stood in front of the building with the Blue Boxes.
Students passed by and shook their heads in judgment.
I have a feeling they know what the Blue Box means.
“Hailey!” Josh screams, making his way towards us. He looks down at the Blue Box before offering Ricardo a glare.
Ricardo snarled and walked away. Girls who passed by him glanced at the Blue Box then giggled while their cheeks turned pink.
I pout, “I got the Blue Box.”
Josh exhales and pats my head, “It’s okay.”
“You got the Blue Box before?”
He shook his head, “No. I practice abstinence. Something you should consider.”
I punched his arm, causing him to grin widely, “You know Ricardo and I weren’t doing anything!”
Josh bit his lower lip, “I know, and I’m proud of you for using the pepper spray.” He tugged my cheek, “Here, let me carry your box of shame.”
The whole walk back to the dorm, I hid my face into Josh’s shirt, hearing people scream: “About damn time Greyson!” or “And here I thought you had a small dicka wick.” or “Walk it! Walk the walk of shame!”
Josh responds to all the comments with a bird.
I straightened out the dress and smiled. Puckering up my lips, I put on the chapstick and gave myself another spine. Inhaling a sharp breath, I step out of the bathroom to see Josh in casual white button-up shorts and pants. He looks up from his phone and smiles, “Cute.”
I puffed my chest, “I know.”
Josh shook his head, grabbed his jacket, and hung it over my shoulders. “Come on, let’s go.” He made his arm into a triangle-like formation.
I pushed my arm inside of his, and when I looked up, I saw my prince charming.
The hallway was like a perfect magazine cover, sprinkled in gold. A couple in masks greet us at the front staircase. The girl smiles, her eyes crinkle playfully as she spreads her hand towards the variety of masks.
I look at Josh with a broad oval shaped face, “It’s a masquerade party!”
It’s my first one.
Instantly, I grab the silver mask lined with black. Josh grabbed the simple gold one.
“Have fun,” the couple behind the table said.
“Will do,” Josh said, helping me fix the mask. He grasped my hand and walked us inside the room, of course, after we took a few selfies.
Light music rushed around me as we ended the room. Everything looks so orderly that I’m afraid to sit on the chair or even lean against the beautifully painted walls. Josh led us towards our tables, and I smiled when I saw our names printed on the chairs.
“Is this what they meant by rich privileges?” I scrap the soft chair fabric against my cheek. “Can I take this home?”
“HayHay!” Crystal made her way towards us, waving a giant feathered fan around.
“How did you know it’s me?” I ask.
“Well, you’re the only one here who would feel her own engraved seating name.”
I drop the cloth, “Where’s your mask?” I attempted to change the subject, so I won’t feel any more of a fool than I already do.
“Why would I hide this beautiful face?” Crystal grabs my hand, “Come on! Let’s dance!”
I look at Josh.
He smiles, “Go on. Have fun. I’ll be here with some drinks when you’re done.”
I squealed, and Crystal dragged me towards the dance floor.
With the packed room, soon, I could feel the sweats dripped down my pink skin. I twirl, leap, and laugh frantically with the young woman in front of me.
That’s what we’re feeling.
The freedom of youth.
Crystal tangles our fingers, and we before circling one another; perfect unison without a care in the world.
I turn my head to see Josh talking to a few other guys. He smiles and waves at me, causing my foolish emotions to burst into a higher peak.
At that moment, I had never been happier to live.
Then, the light turned off.
The music died down.
We all stop dancing.
The dark purple curtains spread open and out, step two gorgeous twins. Madison’s red lips curved into a beautiful smile, “Welcome to the Golden Party.”
I covered my mouth with my hands and screamed along with everyone.
The noises only caused Madison’s smile to widen, “Before I start, I would like to give thanks...to our generous parents for their wonderful donation to the party,” she turned her body towards the camera. “Thank you, daddy and mommy, of Pandora,” she shows off her million-dollar smile.
Madison waves at the camera and the cameraman turns off the camera. Her wide smile drops, “Now, let’s get this party started.”
Just when I thought the lights and music would turn back on, it didn’t.
“What’s going on?” I asked Crystal, who merely shrugged.
Then, I can see it.
A young man seated on stage, all tied up. He seems a bit too old to attend this school.
Madison’s heels clicked as she made her way towards the sweaty shaky guy. She placed the mic back to her lips, “Now-” her voice was no longer happy like earlier. “let’s start the entertainment.”
The guy only shook his head in returned as he stifled a cry through the duct-taped.