1/3 - Dull
Parties have a certain air to them. Whether it's the smell of alcohol lingering on people's breath... the creeping tendrils of smoke spreading from rooms that were meant to be off-limit... the heat and sweat from moving bodies steaming up the windows... or the sound of people's voices, varying in tone, volume, raspiness as they scream and shout in ways that tell you they know that they are making memories - good or bad. The oxygen is laced with something that infiltrates your bloodstream and causes a chemical reaction of some kind. It's different for everybody - I assume we all have different chemicals inside of us that lead to different reactions.
Many young people have traits like CPPO powder. The air of the party is a mixture of sodium acetate, ethyl acetate and hydrogen peroxide. Mix the substances together and it will glow in the dark; you might not expect it. And it's different and interesting every time, depending on the colour; maybe it's the quiet girl that you work with, on three glasses of wine and finally coming out of her shell on the dance floor. Perhaps it's the cocky, too good for you boy from your lectures, drinking a couple of beers and having a meaningful heart to heart with someone he'd never talk to otherwise. Or it's someone who is known for being uptight and strict, letting go after a round of shots. The results are often entertaining.
Then there's the sodium metal. Unusual; soft and only shiny on the inside, until it is exposed with oxygen. This is the opposite of CPPO powder; these people shine in their own time. Met with the air of a party, they shut down and hide their traits. It's boy from your book club who beams when discussing the wonders of Stephen King, but stutters when offered a drink. He's afraid to drink it; he doesn't know what it will do to him, or if he'll like it. The girl you met online who vents and cheers in tweets, but falls short for words in groups. She is terrified of embarrassing herself, with or without the alcohol, but the pressure of the party brings on that fear tenfold. Then there's me; the girl who came here with her boyfriend, telling herself it would be fine, but wants to crawl into a hole because strangers are trying to make eye contact. She doesn't know them; she doesn't know their chemical makeup. She doesn't know who they are, what they want or how to react to them - how they'll react to her. She forgot that she never reacted well to the air of the party and she regrets coming.
I've always seen myself as sodium metal. I'm drinking cider at this party. With a straw.
I assume many men must have manganese heptoxide infused into their bones. A party, to them, is like mixing with potassium permanganate; the minute the two are combined, it's a disaster waiting to happen. They start off as exciting and interesting, the life of the party, but they easily become angry and dangerous, ready to combust at any mere interaction. I'm sure some women are like that too; but in this case, the study is my boyfriend. He drinks whiskey and vodka. I came to this party in hopes to bring us closer; we had been dating since the first year of university and in the year and a half since, I'd grown weary.
Walking into his bedroom after not seeing him for a week wasn't exciting.
Sitting on his bed whilst he played video games and yelled at the screen did not entertain me.
Venting to him about my work load as he shrugged off his own wasn't reassuring.
Opening up to him as he furrowed his eyebrows and eventually changed the subject wasn't comforting.
Kissing him wasn't romantic.
Being with him wasn't right.
As a last ditch effort to make some kind of connection with him, maybe spark a new flame in our burnt out relationship, I suggested we come to this party; sometimes I felt that maybe it was my fault our relationship had dampened. I wasn't interesting enough. I didn't do the things he did. I avoided groups and loud noise and confrontation and dirty jokes; he loved all of the above and more. He mocked me for being so dull. I wanted to show him I could shine. I suggested the party in hopes to do exactly that, only to find myself feeling twice as dull as ever.
He clearly was not interested in my sad, un-shining metal. He was looking for the CPPO's, or the other manganese to hit it off with. Someone with glow, someone with spark.
He left me behind when he saw a game of beer pong taking place. "You find someone to talk to," he said dismissively, "I love this kind of shit." He pointed towards the group of cheering people, and sloppily kissed my forehead before walking off without me. Not even giving me a chance to respond, or to make sure I'd find somewhere to go... Maybe after all this time he still hadn't figured out that socialising wasn't my strong suit. Or maybe he didn't care. Either way, in this house full of people, I was alone. I looked around momentarily, perhaps expecting to find solace in the form of a familiar face or a friendly animal weaving around the feet of clumsy strangers... nothing. I turned back to the group of people playing beer pong, only to see that there were already looks of irritation on a few of their faces - my boyfriend was being overbearing, over competitive, messy. I decided to migrate over to the drinks table.
I'd finished my can of cider and wasn't bold enough to choose a different drink; I was used to sticking with what I knew. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing surprising. Comfortable.
"Don't you think that's total bullshit?" An amused voice piped up beside me and I turned cautiously, thinking the question was aimed at me and running through a list of reasons in my head as to why. I saw a girl with long auburn hair approaching the table, definitely not speaking to me, whilst looking towards another girl by her side with short pink hair.
"I won't lie I wasn't really listening." Chuckled the second girl whilst pouring herself some vodka and coke. I quickly looked away, realising the conversation was not aimed at me and that I was unintentionally staring, but I couldn't help but listen as they continued talking right next to me. "You two are insane."
"What?! I keep telling Lia to watch Gossip Girl so she gets what we're talking about all the time and she's all like, nooooo, I have to do uni work, I don't have timeee!! But that's a whole lie because I know she's up at 3am binge watching that vampire shit!" The first girl mocked, and out of the corner of my eye I saw her turn and point at a girl who was laughing at her. I found myself invested in the conversation - I didn't mean to be. But something about it drew me in. The third girl spoke.
"It's not the same! Starting a new show is completely different from rewatching something-"
"This is what I mean when I say bullshit girl." The auburn hair girl slapped her thigh as the pink her girl laughed. The third girl glared at her friends lovingly, and all of a sudden she was making eye contact with me. I felt my heart beat speed up; was I staring? Did I get caught being nosy? I looked down and sipped my drink awkwardly, expecting her to say something as there was a pause in their conversation but instead they seemingly moved on.
"Are you guys gonna get something to drink or not?" Said the girl who'd poured herself a vodka and coke as she took a sip.
"Duh. Where's the cider?" The minute I heard the question from the girl I assumed was Lia, something in me, for some unknown reason, told me that instead of just moving out of the way so that she could get a cider I should pass her a can myself.
"I- uh- for you." I heard my own voice stammer out and winced at the sound of it. For a moment I felt like my brain short circuited, like the lights went out and the short lived darkness was full of something I was meant to run from. I opened my eyes. "Sorry- was that weird?"
"Weird?" She smirked slightly and I felt blood rush to my cheeks. She had dark, almost black eyes that felt like I'd see my own reflection in them if I looked hard enough. I could barely keep eye contact. "I'd never complain about having my drink handed to me by a pretty girl. As long as it's not already been opened, I mean." She raised her dark eyebrow as she took the can from me, our hands briskly touching. She was warm. I was nervous. Pretty?
"I just thought- I heard you ask where the cider was and I realised I was standing in the way so I- y'know, I don't know why I didn't just move." I let out a nervous laugh, looking down at the floor and shaking my head.
"But if you moved then who would've handed me my drink?" I heard the pout in her voice and looked back up at her, watching her face crack into a laugh as I joined her. "Kidding. Don't worry about it, though, it wasn't weird. Thank you, actually." She smiled, tucking a strand of her silky black hair behind her ear before looking around. Her hair was so long. I followed her line of sight and realised that her two friends had drifted to a different area in the room, leaving the two of us stood facing each other... Oh god. I felt her eyes on me again and wanted to hit myself for not knowing what to say.
"You like cider?" I impulsively asked, mentally face palming at the dumb question that left my lips. "I'm sorry that was so stupid - of course you do." I laughed at myself, holding my hand up to my brow in embarrassment. "I'm bad at making conversation." I heard her laugh with me and wasn't sure whether that meant I was better off shutting up or not.
"No, no, you're cute." She chuckled, and I found myself taken off guard - cute? I didn't know how to react to that but I ended up biting the inside of my cheek as my ears warmed up. I brushed it off. "But yes. I do like cider." She smiled softly, and I somehow felt calmed by her amused response. "I'm guessing you do too." She looked at the drinks table, seeing the two empty cans I'd left by my side and looking back at the one in my hand before glancing back at me.
"Yeah, it's all I drink." I nodded, looking down at my can before taking a small sip. "Not like, ever. I mean at parties, and stuff."
"I got you." She grinned, and I felt like face palming. There was a moment of silence between us.
"Are you here with anyone?" She asked suddenly, cracking open her drink and taking a sip.
"Well- technically, yeah..." I let out a slight chuckle but cleared my throat, pursing my lips as I realised I wasn't completely certain about how I was meant to feel. I was just reminded that I'd been left alone and to everyone else it looked like I'd brought myself to this party just to stand next to the drinks table. How embarrassing...
"Boyfriend?" She tilted her head at me in this way that said 'oh sweetheart...' and I felt my eyes widen slightly. My mouth opened but nothing came out. How did she know? "Am I wrong?"
"No- I mean yeah you're right. You're right, actually." I tapped my nails against the can in my hand and looked around, finding the person I was supposed to be with. At this party and in life. Both of those possibilities seemed to be compromised. I saw him crushing empty beer cans against his forehead and holding up the destroyed piece of metal like a trophy, that only he was really excited about winning.
"...That's him?" I heard the uncertainty in her voice and turned to face her, seeing that she'd followed my line of sight to the tragic testosterone fest happening across the room. I nodded in an almost embarrassed way when she looked back at me, and saw her frown. "Do you know anybody else here?" I shook my head. "...And he left you alone?" She raised an eyebrow and I found myself just letting out a sigh.
"It's pathetic, I know." I swallowed hard and looked back over at him, seeing that he was showing off his beer can trophy to a girl next to him - I told myself not to think about it. I looked back at Lia who had a look of contemplation on her face.
"You wanna go out to the garden?" Her question came to me as a surprise. For a second I thought I was having a bit of deja vu from five or so minutes ago - maybe she was talking to someone else. Maybe one of her other friends had come back and she was addressing them... But she was looking right at me. "I think we'll get along."
"...Sure thing." I smiled shyly.