The walls are booming all around me with the voices of unknown rappers and crappy pop singers. Arms are swaying above at least two-hundred heads, and everyone is singing at the top of their lungs, no doubt making their throats burn and scratch. No one cares, though. Especially not me. I scream lyrics I don’t know and whip my hair until my neck feels like it’s going to break. My heartbeat syncs up with the beat of the speakers and I feel euphoric. This is what freedom must feel like, I think, smiling ear to ear and letting out a loud whoop.
I turn to Jake who is swaying his red solo cup above his head, making liquid swish and tip over the side. I yell, “I’m going to get another drink!” He holds a cupped hand to his ear, still dancing, and I roll my eyes. I point to the kitchen behind him and he nods, yelling something that sounds like I have to pee or get me one too, probably both.
I push past him and about fifty other sweaty bodies and make my way to the kitchen. It’s filled with cow-shaped kitchen utensils from saltshakers to cookie jars. I screw my nose up and begin looking for the blue cooler holding the sodas. There’s a pair of white sneakers swinging above the cooler when I finally find it. “Um, excuse me? Your dirty sneakers are blocking the drinks,” I say with snark and glance up. I swallow hard when I see the platinum blonde girl that the white sneakers are attached to. I know my face is beet red and I try to push it back, however impossible it is. My best friend from ages six to fifteen is seated atop the marble counter swinging her sneakers back and forth lazily. She’s sipping from a Pepsi can and condensation droplets are running down her fingers.
“Hey, Nina,” she says, shyly. We haven’t spoken to each other since sophomore year and I find myself at a loss for words.
“Mallory, what—” I clear my throat. Why am I nervous? “What are you doing here? I didn’t think you were into parties.” It comes out harsher than I mean it and I put on my signature sweet smile to lighten it up a bit.
She’s not fazed. Same as always. “I’m not, but it’s the last party of senior year, so. Why not?”
“Yeah, hard to believe, huh? Senior year flew by,” I say, half wishing the conversation would be over already.
“That it did,” She whispers, nodding. It’s silent for a minute. Then two minutes. I debate leaving, but her feet are still over the cooler. However, no drink is better than this agony. I begin to turn when she sighs. “Remember when we used to fantasize about high school parties in eighth grade? Always wondering if they were as wild as they portrayed them in the movies.”
I’m not looking at her, but I can hear the smile in her voice, reminiscing about simpler times. The mention of our friendship catches me off guard and all I can respond back is, “Yeah.”
“Do you think they are? As perfect as the movies, I mean.”
I look at her this time, knowing she’s referring to more than just the parties. I shrug. “I think so, yeah,” I say, matter-of-factly.
Mallory stares at me for a long time. Her brown eyes are almost black, a stark contrast with her pale hair. She smiles a closed lip smile. “I’m glad,” she says. Her gaze shifts downwards, and she removes her dangling feet from above the cooler, giving me full access.
For some odd reason, it feels like a trick. Like if I go to grab a drink, she’ll pounce on me and demand answers as to why our friendship ended. To be honest, I am not completely sure myself. We started high school, I got involved with the popular crowd, she didn’t. Simple as that. Thinking back on it, a surge of anger bubbles in the pit of my stomach and all I want is to get out of there. I roll my shoulders, shaking off imaginary dust, and strut over to the cooler. I grab a can of Pepsi, keeping my stare level with her own, and walk right out of the kitchen.
Maybe there’s a part of us that always will be best friends. The part that shared secrets and gave each other makeovers. But not now. Now, we’re two different people.
I walk into the kitchen, kneading my temples to push back a throbbing headache. “This is why I don’t come to high school parties,” I mutter to myself, still hearing the boom boom boom of the speakers. There’s a cooler lying underneath a marble counter and I walk over to it, grabbing a chilled Pepsi can. I crack it open and prop myself on the counter, swinging my legs back and forth while take sips of the soda.
I am not entirely sure why I came to the party tonight, if it is because I simply want to see what it’s like or because my mother wouldn’t stop griping about how I never leave the house. Probably both. However loud it is, it is nice to be away from my mother and whatever helpless man she brought home tonight.
“Um, excuse me? Your dirty sneakers are blocking the drinks.” I didn’t see anyone come in and the voice startles me. I glance down and see a girl with dark brown hair and striking green eyes. There’s a small stud in her left nostril but other than that, she hasn’t changed one bit since we were fifteen. Her face is tomato red when she recognizes me, and her eyes grow wider by the second.
“Hey, Nina,” I say, feeling momentarily embarrassed. It’s been nearly two years since we’ve last spoken to each other and the last time was nothing but screaming and crying. Screaming that she left me for people who did not even care about her, that she left me for shallow, temporary fame of being a part of the popular crowd. I suppose it is silly now, but the words we said to each other left a lasting imprint.
It takes her a few seconds to respond, mouth opening and closing. “Mallory, what—” She clears her throat and recovers her composure, replacing the dumbfounded look with a picture-perfect smile. “What are you doing here? I didn’t think you were into parties.”
The words come out as an accusation, but I let them roll over me. “I’m not, but it’s the last party of senior year, so. Why not?” I don’t let her in on the fact that my mother practically pushed me out, knowing she wouldn’t care.
She says something about high school flying by and I agree. It’s silent. Her eyes dart around the kitchen, landing on several of the cute cow figurines decorating the kitchen. A memory in the back of my mind floats to the surface without warning. One where we are snuggled in ratty sleeping bags in Nina’s bedroom, flashlights illuminating our faces. We were only thirteen at the time and we were fantasizing about high school. I asked her if she thought it was going to be just like the movies. She said she believed it was and if it wasn’t, she was dropping out the day they got there. It was only a few short weeks after that sleepover that she got invited to her first high school party and I didn’t. I sigh long and heavy, feeling the weight of our long-lost friendship like never before. I smile sadly and ask her about that very memory, to see if it sparks anything in her.
Her head whips to face me, caught off guard, and she simply responds, “Yeah.” Her face is blank, emotionless.
I decide to push farther. “Do you think they are? As perfect as the movies, I mean.”
I watch as her green eyes darken, and I realize I’m referring to something deeper. Do you think it was worth losing your best friend? “I think so, yeah,” she barks, shrugging.
My heart hardens at her words. Whatever I thought might change in her after seeing me was gone. “I’m glad,” I say. I give a tight, close-lipped smile and move out of the way so she can reach the cooler. She wastes no time and we hold a stare before she marches out of the kitchen.
I get up soon after her, pushing my way through a sea of people and out the front door. Maybe there is a part of us that always will be best friends. The part that shared secrets and gave each other makeovers. But not now. Now, we are two different people.