Chapter 23 - Night Fever
“Listen to the ground / There is movement all around / There is something goin’ down / And I can feel it” – Night Fever, Bee Gees
Now while East Side Academy and West Side Academy are rival schools in the same town, it doesn’t mean we never mix with each other. East Siders are friends with West Siders, West Siders have cousins at East Side, East Siders and West Siders play on the same competitive sports teams, the list goes on. We are not completely separate from each other, we are just rivals, and some take the rivalry more seriously than others, namely jocks. Even if they play together in competitive sports, they don’t forget what school they’re from. It’s like two universities in the same town. They will party with each other on a Friday or Saturday night, but you stay true to your school. And I’m somewhere in between. An East Side girl that has been a West Side girl for much longer. Even if I attend East Side now, no one is going to let me forget where I was before. And tonight is when both of my worlds are going to collide.
One of the rich guys in Grade 11 from West Side’s parents (dad and stepmom) are away and so he has the mansion to himself this Saturday night. His new stepbrother as of this year, also in Grade 11, attends East Side. So of course, with the house to themselves, the stepbrothers decide to have a party at the house for the Grade 11s of West Side and East Side. Should be interesting. I haven’t even seen anyone from West Side since I switched schools, not even my friends. I am a bit nervous to see them, it’s just been so long. A part of me just wants to skip the party altogether, but my friends wouldn’t hear of it. James will be there at least, and I know I can convince him to leave early if necessary. It’s very important to be in a relationship with someone that wants to leave parties at the same time as you. Mia is at a sleepover and my parents are at a dentist conference this weekend so I’m sure it won’t be hard to convince him.
I whistle to Diana when she comes out of the bathroom with a black collared dress that ties at the front. With her skin colour, all clothes look amazing on her and that dress is showing off her long legs for everyone to see.
“Thank you, thank you,” Diana says, sweeping her hair back and laughing. “What are you wearing?” she says to me.
Eleanor is wearing a cold shoulder black top with wavy sleeves and a tight beige skirt to show off her cleavage and flat stomach. Sarah is wearing a beautiful burgundy brassiere with lipstick to match and high waisted jeans, to only show a bit of stomach. Normally we wouldn’t dress this nice for a high school party, but this is a West Side party and you can bet those girls will be pulling out all the stops. Sitting crossed-legged on Diana’s bed, I’m wearing jeans and a white tank top with a plaid shirt wrapped around my waist. I’m tempted to just throw on my sneakers and call it a day. See what the West Siders say about me then. But I do like dressing up every once in a while, and this is a good excuse for it.
“Give me a minute,” I say, grabbing my clothes from my bag.
“I thought you were just going to wear that outfit,” Sarah says, “it becomes you!”
I grab a baseball cap and put it on backward. “Think the West Side guys will like this?” I say posing and they all laugh.
“James will still be all over you,” Sarah says, “You could wear a potato sack and he wouldn’t care.”
I laugh and head to the bathroom. She’s right. It doesn’t matter what I wear, James wouldn’t care. I put on my outfit slowly, looking at myself in the full-length mirror. A tight white spaghetti strap crop top with a dark sage green high low maxi skirt. It shows an inch of my stomach. My crop top is snug to my chest, a sweetheart neckline that shows some cleavage. I love the outfit, how pretty I feel in it, and showing off skin that I’d never be allowed to at home or school. When I look at the amount of skin I’m showing, I’m wondering if James would prefer I wear a potato sack? No, James isn’t like that. He never comments on what I’m wearing except to tell me I’m beautiful.
I walk out of the bathroom to catcalls and whistles from the girls. “You guys are too much,” I say, walking to grab my makeup bag.
“James better watch it that some other guy doesn’t try to take you home,” Diana says suggestively.
“Definitely not going to happen,” I say. “James is the one who will be coming home with me tonight.”
“Are your parents home?” Eleanor asks with a raised eyebrow. I shake my head with a smile and the girls scream with excitement. “Are you guys going to…”
“I’m not going that far with him,” I interrupt Eleanor, knowing what she’s going to ask, “we’ve only been together a couple of weeks.”
“But you want to?” Diana asks.
“I’ve never had a boyfriend before,” I say honestly, “I don’t know how it’s all supposed to work with timing and everything. Of course I want to, but I’m not ready.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Sarah says, “James would wait forever for you.”
“Well I won’t make him wait THAT long,” I laugh, “but I always just want to spend more time with him. Having a whole uninterrupted night, the house to ourselves is just what the doctor ordered.”
“Did the doctor order some heart-racing activities?” Diana says and I throw a pillow at her. “What? Cardio is good for you!”
The mansion is huge. Larger than any house I’ve ever seen in our tiny town and on a big property so that there aren’t any neighbours that will be disturbed by all the teenagers that are in and outside the house. We walk into the beautiful and grand house, late as usual, with the house full of drinking teens, who are chatting, playing drinking games, and making out. It’s a version of Lisa’s party, just on a grander and fancier scale. Of course the guys are dressed how they would normally dress, it’s the girls that have dolled themselves up this evening. Some to attract male attention, some because they love to dress up. When I walk into the house with my three girlfriends, I forget for a moment that I would be seeing people I already know. People that would be curious about me leaving West Side to go to East Side. There is only one boy at West Side that knows the real reason I left, and I am sure he is somewhere in this crowd of people. I intend to avoid him at all costs.
“Arya!” I hear female voices scream. I turn to the voices and find my three girlfriends, Maya, Zora, and Lucy, from West Side, all dolled up to perfection.
“West Side princesses,” Diana raises an eyebrow at me.
“I’ll catch up with guys later,” I say and then turn to my friends. I run over to them, joining in a group hug, all of us screaming at the reunion. It’s been months since I’ve seen these girls that were once my closest friends.
“Arya!” Maya, the kind, inquisitive one, says excitedly, “We haven’t seen you in sooo long! How are you?”
“Good,” I say, “it’s been a change, but a good change.”
“Really?” Zora says, “You mean you actually like being at East Side?”
“It’s not that bad,” I say, “I’ve met some incredible people there.”
“Those girls you walked in with?” Zora asks.
“They’re my friends,” I say, “they’re great! You guys would love them.”
“I’m sure,” Zora says unconvinced. Zora is a close friend, but she always has been kind of a snob. I guess I didn’t realize it so much considering all four of us come from well off families.
“Don’t listen to her,” Lucy, the overly nice one, says, “we’re just happy that you are doing well there. We miss you at West Side though. It’s not the same without you.”
“Thanks,” I say, “I miss you guys a lot.” I do miss these girls a lot. We’ve been best friends for years.
“So then why did you leave?” Maya asks.
“I already told you,” I say, knowing that this question would come up.
“No, you didn’t,” Maya says, “you didn’t give any explanation other than you HAD to leave.”
I bit my lip. I hate lying, especially to my friends, especially since they know I’m hiding something, but it’s the way it has to be. “I just needed a change,” I say.
“And East Side is the change you wanted?” Zora says unimpressed.
“Did we do something wrong, Arya?” Lucy asks. “You just left so quickly. Within a day you had your decision made.”
“No, no,” I say reassuring them, “You guys did nothing wrong.” How do I explain this to them? How do I explain why I left the better school for the lesser one? What reasonable person would do that?
“Was it Oscar?” Maya says jokingly, “He was always on the edge of stalking you. How many times has he asked you out now?”
I laugh. “No, Oscar is harmless. Has he found a girlfriend?” I ask, “I would be so happy to hear that.”
“Nope!” Maya says, “and he’s here tonight. Just as a warning.” Great, another person to avoid.
“Do you remember when he tried to ask you out with a bouquet of licorice?” Lucy asks.
“Oh lord,” I put my hand to my forehead, “not my finest moment.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Arya,” Lucy says.
“He was so upset after that,” I say, “he came up to my locker with this bouquet of licorice and all I said to him is ‘I don’t like licorice’. It just came out! An immediate reaction to seeing it. His face just dropped. I felt so bad.” The only good thing about this story is that it’s a distraction from telling them why I left West Side.
“He asked you out again, like a month later,” Lucy says, “so obviously wasn’t too heartbroken.”
“Any cute guys at East Side?” Maya asks with a raised eyebrow. I try to hide my sheepish grin, but it’s too late. “There is, isn’t there? One in particular?”
“Yes,” I say, happy for the conversation to change to this direction. “I actually have a boyfriend.”
“What?!” they all say in unison. I shouldn’t be surprised. I didn’t date any guys at West Side, and now in less than a term at East Side, I already have a boyfriend.
“You have a boyfriend?” Maya says, disbelievingly. “What has that school done to you?”
“That’s great, Arya!” Lucy says cheerfully.
“What HAS that school done to you?” Zora says, “Please tell me he’s rich.”
“Is that all that matters to you?” I say to Zora, annoyed that that would be the first thing she asks.
“Come on, Arya,” Zora says, “We have plenty of choice of the sons of wealthy families at West Side. Why would you settle for someone at that low budget school?”
“I’m not settling with James,” I say, “he’s kind, smart, athletic, funny, and handsome. He’s everything.”
“But rich,” Zora says.
“Oh leave it, Zora,” Lucy says, “Arya’s found someone she really likes. Doesn’t matter how much his family makes. Is he here tonight?”
I nod. “I don’t know where,” I say, looking around me. “But he is here.”
“We want to meet him,” Lucy says, and Zora rolls her eyes.
“We’re playing another round of King’s Cup if you guys want to join?” a guy says from the couch.
“You in, Arya?” Maya asks.
“I’m good,” I say, “I’ll catch up with you guys later.”