Tuesday, December 28
“Come on Aurie, just tell us!” Nick exclaims impatiently.
I shake my head with a faint smile on my face while sipping my gingerbread latte. It’s our newest winter edition to the menu, and it’s delicious.
“You guys know the rules. My lips are sealed.” I motion, using an imaginary key to lock my lips together and then mock throwing it away.
I glance around the table, looking each of my friends in the eye to show them how serious I am. All at once, they shout their protests, causing me to laugh. There’s just something about having the power of knowing a secret that makes me feel more important. Like when paparazzi groups crowd around a famous movie star actor, trying to get the latest scoop on an upcoming project.
“We promise not to tell anyone else. We just want to know what to buy when we go shopping later for the party,” Olivia whined.
I’ve been working at the Ground Zero Cafe since freshman year. Not once have I ever told anyone the theme of the upcoming weekend party in advance.
Rule #13 of the Ground Zero Cafe Employee Handbook: All employees are required to help create the theme and set up the basement club throughout the week. Never tell anyone outside of the other employees what the next theme of the upcoming party is in advance. If any staff is caught giving out this information they will be terminated.
I’ve loved working at the Ground Zero Cafe ever since the first day I started working here; refuse to risk losing my job as a cashier and barista. The reason I enjoy working here is because of how different it is from other cafes. It is the most popular hangout spot for teens in all of Haydson Heights. They are also most famous for their weekly events and weekend parties that occur every couple of weeks.
In the cafe's basement is an exclusive club for teens only. They only sell non-alcoholic beverages of course, or else no parents would allow their children to go. The best part is there is a new theme for every party. Not once in the history of the cafe has the same theme been repeated! Which over time has limited the party options causing them to become crazier and weirder each time but completely unpredictable. That’s the fun part.
I’m about to recite my usual speech I cleverly named: “You Know I Can’t Spill the Party Theme Tea” when suddenly a chorus of different cell phone charms erupt throughout the cafe. At first, I frown, puzzled at what everyone is looking at, as they quietly start reading something on their phones.
Then I’m instantly reminded of a part in a scary movie when it’s completely quiet except for the intense music playing that reveals that something bad is going to happen.
Unfortunately, I left my phone in the locker room in the back. With my brows knit together with total confusion and fear tying knots in my stomach, I try leaning closer to Nick and attempt to read what’s on his phone.
Before I can even read what it says he jumps out of his chair with a horrified and disgusted expression on his face as he shouts “Is this some kind of sick joke!”
Echoing across the cafe I see teens around my age also jumping up to bark their remarks of protest.
Exasperated with being kept in the dark, I say, “What’s wrong? What happened? Someone, please show me.”
That’s when Nick then pauses his angry barks of protest unlike everyone else in the room and shows me his phone.
I then freeze, not sure I’m completely processing the words on the screen correctly. There have only been two times in my entire 16 years of living that I have been so surprised my jaw touched the ground. Once when my parents surprised me with tickets to see my favorite Broadway show. The other time was when I found out my favorite author was coming out with a prequel to the best book ever written.
For a moment I think I’m having a heart attack as my heart feels like it's stopped beating. As I slowly glance around the cafe in a complete daze, hearing but not listening to what everyone is saying. One scene suddenly comes to mind that perfectly matches the description of the cafe right now. It’s the part when Lin-Manuel Miranda (acting in the role of Alexander Hamilton from that Broadway show Hamilton) sings this one song about what it feels like being in the eye of a hurricane. It’s quiet for a moment as you look around and see the chaos unravel right before your eyes.
As suddenly as the shouts started they stopped. As the yelling slowly simmers down there is only one thing left in its wake. I look over at my group of friends who are now glaring across the room. They are looking at a group of teens across from us, who are from the Southside of town. Both groups are shooting daggers across the room at each other with intense hostility.
At that moment, I’ve come to the conclusion, it’s a miracle that looks can’t kill.