“Are you coming tonight?”
Bell saw the message notification light up on her phone sitting beside her on the couch. She felt dread building up inside her at the thought of opening the message and needing to answer it. As an introvert, she desperately craved her at-home-and-alone time. It wasn’t that she was anti-social; she just preferred to stay in than go out. She also preferred dogs and cats to human beings. Okay, so maybe she was a little anti-social. She would go for a day where she never left the house and the only other living thing she interacted with was her bunny Tulla over a day where she was invited to an exclusive party anytime.
Sadly, it seemed like she was not going to get to have her evening of solitude that she craved.
Her phone lit up again. The message scrolled across: “We need to know who all is coming so we can plan accordingly.”
Bell begrudgingly picked up her phone and opened the messages. She began to type out her reply, knowing it wouldn’t be what the person on the other end was hoping to receive.
“I just don’t know. I really appreciate you thinking of me, but I feel like I might just sit this one out.” She hit send and hoped it would be at least a few minutes before she had to deal with the reply. But whomever she was texting was ready to read and reply at lightning speed.
“Come on, it will be so much fun! We really want you to be a part of this. What’s your hold-up?”
Bell sighed, knowing this conversation was going to take a lot longer than she had hoped. What was her hold-up? She needed a good, solid answer. Saying she wanted to stay in with her rabbit for the fifth night in a row wasn’t going to cut it. She started typing a response, then backspaced the whole thing, typed again, backspaced again, trying to decide the best way to get out of this. Maybe she could pretend she was sick. Because the thought of going out tonight with all these people was, in fact, making her head hurt and stomach turn. So it didn’t technically need to be a lie.
“I haven’t been feeling very well today,” she finally decided to respond. “I thought maybe I would feel better by tonight, but so far I’ve only been feeling worse and worse. I doubt I would be of any use to anyone and not very much fun to be around, plus I might be contagious and I wouldn’t want anyone else to get whatever it is that I have. So I think it’s best if I just stay home tonight.”
She hit “send” and threw her phone back on the couch and sank down into her seat. That was that. Surely no one would argue her being health conscious, especially for the sake of other people. A sigh of relief passed her lips as she looked up at the dangling lights on the wall hung up by command hooks. Her eyes fell down to the cage sitting up against the wall holding her best friend, Ms Tulla.
“Alright, Miss Funny Bunny, what shall we drink tonight? Red wine? Apple cider? Hot cocoa? Yeah, hot cocoa sounds good. Let’s do that.”
Bell got up and headed to the kitchen to mix herself a batch of chocolatey goodness in liquid form. After its preparation, Bell got her dear friend out of her cage to join Bell on the couch for a movie. But just as Bell and her non-human companion sat back down, the phone began to light up again with a series of incoming messages. As the notification bell kept dinging with each new message, Bell knew it was trouble. No one sends that many individual texts unless they are pretty upset.
Bell set Tulla off to the side as she hesitantly picked up her phone. Much to her dismay, it read “8 new messages from Dyson Parker” and she knew she was in for it, big time. She drew a deep breath and unlocked the phone to read her doom.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I think you’re lying.”
“You’re not really sick.”
“You’re just making excuses.”
“We really need you there.”
“The others won’t take this well.”
“There’s a lot at stake tonight. You said you would come.”
Bell reflected on how she ended up in this situation. When she was originally prompted to join in, it seemed like a good idea. Dyson and his pals had made it all sound so great. A lot of cash was involved and she would earn street credit with his gang. She wouldn’t need to do much, just show up and basically be a chauffeur. Nothing too difficult. Nothing that even really involved talking to very many people. But now assessing the situation, she felt very discouraged at the thought of trying to pick herself up and going out to meet them.
She plotted out her response and hit Dyson back. “I’m really sorry, but I just really don’t think I can come. I'm sorry that I’m putting you guys out, but I really don’t think I’d fit in anyway. You would be a lot better off finding someone else to come with you. I wish you guys the best of luck and hope tonight is everything you’ve wanted it to be.” And with that, Bell decided to shut her phone down for the night. Even if Dyson or his pals tried to message or call her to convince her to come out, she wouldn’t know until morning and by then, the night of craziness would have passed.
The phone was placed on her nightstand out of sight while Bell and Tulla enjoyed watching “Breaking Dawn” for the twelfth time. They turned in around 10:00 and slept well through the night, embracing the quiet life.
The next morning, Bell woke up and turned her phone back on and switched on the tv to watch the morning news while she made her breakfast. As her eggs began to fry, she saw 25 messages and missed calls from Dyson and his friends, each one nastier than the one before. The last one to pop up simply said, “You’re going to regret not coming.” And yet, Bell felt relief rather than regret. Her relief only grew as she turned to the news story currently playing on the screen.
“In crime news, we have a breaking story of a failed robbery last night,” the pretty female reporter began. “Police were called when the neighbors of DJ Mart, a local convenience store chain, noticed suspicious activity outside the store.” Security camera footage began playing on tv of a group of young men climbing out of a sedan wearing ski masks and entering the store. “Five men, ages 21-28, entered the store to rob the cash register. The leader of the pack has been identified as Dyson Parker. The criminals might have gotten away before the police showed up to arrest them, but according to the security cam footage, they seemed to have been arguing over who was going to drive the car to get away and their lack of a getaway driver seemed to have been their downfall.”
Bell switched the tv off and turned to Tulla. “This is why when someone invites you to go out for a crazy, fun night, you should always just make an excuse to stay home.”