“I’m totally excited!” Gretchen squealed as we walked, arms linked, up the sidewalk to Tanner’s house.
Yes, I felt guilty for lying to my dad. It wasn’t Olivia’s house. There’s no Olivia anyway. But I thought it would sound better if the party were being thrown by a girl and not an immature boy. Tanner was just that. An annoying, loud, overbearing football player from my old high school who insisted on being popular whether people wanted him to or not. I think he was only accepted into the club because he had parents who traveled a lot, thus opening his house to the most over-the-top, alcohol-infused, sex-crazed parties in the city. It amazed me that not one of them had ever been busted by the cops.
“What’s there to be excited about?” I asked. “These parties are obnoxious.”
“Whatever, Brooke. You loved them last year.”
“Yeah, that was last year,” I said. “God, I don’t want to run into anyone I know.”
We pushed through the front door and nearly toppled onto Stephanie.
“Oh my God!” she screamed, throwing her arms around my neck and choking me.
“Steph.” I know I sounded less than enthusiastic, but I just couldn’t pretend anymore.
“I was so hoping you’d come tonight!” she replied, pulling away and looking me up and down. “You look so pretty!”
I did look pretty. I wore dark blue skinny jeans with a gray sequins top and alligator pumps. My very first pair of closed-toe heels. I bought them immediately after Beth’s funeral, and I made sure there was nothing sad about them. Not a hint of black. They were purple instead. I wore my hair in a messy chignon at the nape of my neck to show off my mother’s wedding earrings—the diamond studs. I felt confident and sexy.
“Thanks. I love your dress,” I replied. “It’s really cute.”
Stephanie looked down at her outfit. “I know, right?!” She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the living room. “Look who’s here, everyone!”
“No no,” I said, shaking my head and tearing my hand out of hers. “No one needs to know.”
I smiled nervously and looked around. Thankfully no one heard Stephanie or they didn’t care. The music was turned up to the max, and half the partiers were already wasted. There was an uneasy energy bouncing about the room, like a huge fight would break out at any moment. I didn’t like it, or rather my spirit didn’t like it. I could tell because my heart fluttered and thumped, and not to the beat of the song.
I turned around assuming Gretchen had followed me into the living room. I assumed wrong.
© S. Walden, 2013