“I can’t believe I was able to buy swim wear, a towel and new make up with just $20” I excitedly announce to Kate and Bridget as we walk down the path towards Sam’s backyard where I can already hear the party is in full swing. “I should film my haul and put it up on YouTube”
I watch Bridget and Kate exchange looks, “What’s Youtube?” Kate ask me curiously, followed by Bridget, “How would you film it? We don’t even own a video camera and who would even want to watch that? Oh here’s some things I bought at Target”. You would watch it Bridget.
So many times now I’ve caught Bridget trolling YouTube for such videos on a Saturday night, it’s like she falls into a deep rabbit hole, one that she has known to spend hours lost in.
I push open the gate and step into the crowded backyard, scanning the faces, I recognise some of them but can only recall the names of about half of them. How is it that I spent 12 years of my life, 5 days a week, 6 hours a day with these people yet I cant remember a single thing about any of them?
“I’m going to find Amber” Bridget calls out as she makes her way into the sea of teens. Amber was familiar at least, she’s been Bridget’s best friend since they were in the eighth grade, a sweet, quiet girl with an untapped wild side when she stumbled across tequila years later.
I turn my attention to Kate, who is now digging through her backpack, she pulls out three new compilation CDs, you know the ones which have about 20 tracks on them, 10 of which will be anything that is charting in the top 40 at that moment and the other 10 are songs you’ve never even heard before, that the record company just threw on there to expose unknown artists.Kate loved buying these CDs, she would listen to them on repeat and then forget about them once the new one was released. Kate was always a great source for gaining new music and at the age of 17 we shared a love for clean cut boy bands, it was more about their looks over their talent but we’d never admit that.
As Kate made her way over to the stereo my eyes fell upon a couple laying on a towel together by the pool, she was on top of him, their lips locked together in a moment of passion as his hands roamed down the curve of her body. To any outsider taking in the scene they would look like any young couple, expressing their love, he wasn’t exactly hiding his affection and for those who knew the truth they wouldn’t say a word, they knew that there was a pecking order and that Lucas Stephenson was at the top. Kristen knew this all too well, that’s why she had set her sights on my boyfriend.
I could go over there, scream, cry, shout profanities but I had already done all of that, the first time around and it got me nowhere really. People don’t sympathise with the girlfriend who was wronged, not when their status of popularity is at stake, I had learnt that the hard way. I would need to handle this differently, I owed that to my 17 year old self.
I slipped inside the almost empty house, making my way to the kitchen. I knew Sam’s house well, I had stayed here often enough with Lucas. Sam lived with his Father, an orthopaedic specialist who often working late nights as he was on call to the local hospital, leaving his son to fend for himself, not that Sam minded. His father was different to most other parents I knew, he had a level of respect and trust for his son. Sam was never berated about where he had been, what he had been doing and if the questions were asked they were merely Dr Lions taking an interest in his son’s life and Sam would reward him with open communication, nothing was hidden from Dr Lions. I was somewhat jealous of the relationship Sam had with his Father, to be able to open up and know that what you had said was not being gathered as evidence to use against you at a later date, my Mother had often lead me into a false trap of “You can tell me anything” and then twisted my words.
I opened a cupboard and grabbed a glass, filling it with water from the faucet, I took small sips from the glass. I wasn’t angry about what I had seen, my feelings for Lucas had dissipated long ago but he still had this way of making me feel nervous. I had always placed Lucas up on this pedestal, I did everything to make sure that he was happy and to prove that I was ‘good enough’ to be with him and each time he cheated I had convinced myself that it was my fault, that there was something wrong with me. It took me a long time, years really, to reverse that way of thinking and see Lucas for who he truely was, a boy who was never satisfied with what he had, he was so used to getting what he wanted that he didn’t give a shit who he had to break to make that happen.
“Who are you hiding from Veronica?” The sweet, melodic, British accent breaking me from my thoughts. I hadn’t heard him come in the room but there he stood, back against the kitchen wall, dark eyes and a mess of brown hair with the brightest smile, dressed in black shorts with a sea blue t-shirt, it was easy to see how Sam had won People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ in 2012, even looking at him now, at the age of 18 he was captivating.
“You know when you have to hurt someone and you get these pangs of guilt about doing it?, Even though the person you’re going to hurt has never given two shits about hurting you and if we are being honest he’s had it coming but still the guilt invades you because you’re a good person and you hate hurting anyone”
There’s a moment of silence that follows as Sam takes in my words, he looks down and plays with his hands before looking back up at me, I can see guilt on his face, he knows that I know about the cheating.
“I can relate to that” He says as he pushes himself off the wall and comes to stand in front of me, “No matter what, you and I will still be friends”
I feel his words cut me like a knife, Sam was a causality of my war against Lucas, seeing him again, like this, made me aware of this. For years he had tried to reach out to me, sending birthday cards and multiple friend requests but I had pushed him away.I had blamed him for his loyalty to Lucas and I shouldn’t have. I wrap my arms around his torso and hold him tightly
“I’ve missed you” I whisper to him softly, trying to pull myself together and I hear him laugh.
“I saw you yesterday Roni, remember? You called me a player because I flirted with that waitress so she would turn a blind eye to the fact that she was serving you alcohol”
“Always so charming” I giggle as the memory fills my mind, Sam, Lucas and I had visited a tavern for lunch because both boys had turned 18 over the Summer break and wanted to celebrate, being 17 and under age we all knew it was a risk having me tag along but Sam convinced us that he had it covered and I was certainly surprised when the waitress was won over by his long eyelashes and dazzling smile, she even wrote her number on a napkin and slipped it to Sam with the bill.
“There you are” I hear Lucas as he comes barging into the kitchen, Kristen walking shamelessly two steps behind. He stands in front of Sam and I, shirtless with his dark blonde hair ruffled, lipstick smeared at the corner of his mouth, “I saw Kate out there so I knew you wouldn’t be too far behind. Why didn’t you come find me?”
“You looked busy, I didn’t want to disturb you” I say as I reach out to wipe the lipstick off his mouth, “Hey Kristen, I love that shade of lipstick, what’s it called?”
“Ah, Hartlett I think” She offers up, the gleam fading from her eyes, she knows I know and now she’ll be looking for a quick exit out of fear of being caught up in a fight between Lucas and I.
“Seems fitting, for you. You should probably go clean it off though, it’s smeared all over your mouth” She brings her hand up to cover her mouth, her eyes are open wide, “Chill Kristen, it’s fine, mine gets smeared too whenever I make out with my boyfriend”
And without another word she runs off in the direction of the bathroom. I look up at Sam and catch him trying to hide his smirk, he’s never liked Kristen, he nicknamed her the town bike not long after he started hanging out with us. Every group has a Kristen, the girl who validates herself by gaining male attention by being provocative and then complains that she can’t ever get a boyfriend.
“I didn’t know when you were coming baby” Lucas says to me, he’s trying to sweet talk his way out of this and he thinks because I’m not going off that he is in the clear, in his tiny little mind he’s convinced himself that he’s gotten away with cheating.
“If we’re being honest here Lucas, you’d never know when a woman is coming.” I watch the smile fall from his pretty boy face. Good, I’ve got him right where I want him, eating out of my hand. I start to walk back outside, I can feel both Lucas and Sam close behind me as I step onto the lawn, there’s a rush of adrenaline surging through my veins as I feel his tight grip wrap around my arm, he’s not use to me putting him in his place.
“Baby, I’m confused, what’s going on?” He stares at me, studying my face for any trace of an answer, little does he realise he’s played right into my trap, I lead him out here for a reason.
“I think we should break up” Simple, direct, straight to the point.
“Why?” I can hear the panic in his tone, no one breaks up with Lucas Stephenson
“There’s a great number of reasons why Lucas, you’re selfish, immature, you clearly have no idea how to satisfy a woman sexually, not to mention the fact that I caught you cheating on me less than 10 minutes ago” My voice is steady, I’m in control here and he knows it as he steps up closer to me.
“Baby, we can work this out, she means nothing to me, I only want you, you know that. I love you” For a brief moment I’m taken by his words, his expression of love is breaking my resolve, “I’m nothing without you Veronica”. And there it is, the statement that brings be back out of my rose coloured glasses haze.
“Then I guess you’re nothing because as of this moment you no longer have me” I see the flicker of hurt in his eye, the pang of guilt I feel, he steps back from me, regarding me coldly.
“You’ll come crawling back to me, you always do, I know this song you sing, this ‘we’re done’ tune and then you’re calling me up, begging me to take you back because you’ve got no one else Veronica, there’s no one else who would put up with your shit” He screams at me, drawing the attention of the crowd around us, this is who Lucas is, you hurt him and he will go for the kill, stopping at nothing to come out on top.
“You’re wrong Lucas, this is a new song, it’s called ‘We are never getting back together’ now stop making a scene, you’re embarrassing yourself, I’m here to have a good time and you’re ruining it. Run along little boy” I tell him boldly, leaving him stunned.