It’s 2 am in the morning and I just want to sleep.
I had a hard day. The professor at the university gave us a friendly reminder that our semester project was due in two weeks and I wasn’t even half done.
My partner, who lived next door, never did any of the work, making up excuses every single time.
“Sorry Robin, I’m having dinner with my family tonight.”
“Sorry Robin, my grandma came to town and I’m supposed to spend time with her.”
Excuses, excuses, excuses.
Eventually, I just gave up and decided to work the project on my own.
But more than half the time was gone by then.
I have to stay up late every night just to finish it.
I suppose I could tell the professor about my current situation, but I’m not a snitch.
Just because I hate him doesn’t mean I would tell on him.
I’d get him back myself.
He is also a terrible neighbour.
Throwing parties at this ungodly hour of the night, no wonder people hate him.
At least I do, I’m not sure about everyone else.
Though he must be quite popular to have so many people come to his party.
He throws one every month.
Every month I lose one night of sleep.
Caffeine no longer gives me the energy to get through the day.
I take little power naps when I sneeze.
It’s no use asking him to stop, he’d just apologise and then keep on partying.
I’m so familiar with types like him.
Running around like he ruled the world.
The music is blasting so loud, and I feel so tired.
My body was drained of energy and I couldn’t move a muscle.
I just want to sleep, but sleep won’t come peacefully.
In fact, fear and paranoia would keep sleep away from me for as long as the party is going on.
God I hate parties.
It happened last year.
Oliver had managed to convince me to give up cramming for the finals and just get out of the house and have some fun.
He calls me a robot who is incapable of having fun, but he also calls birds flappy aeroplanes, so I shouldn’t listen so much to him.
A friend of a friend was having a party that night, and it was only a 15-minute drive.
Oliver insisted the robot should learn to enjoy herself.
“Come on, it’ll be fun. You gotta live once in a while.”
After all, a robot can be reprogrammed at any time.
His plan for me was to get totally wasted and forget all about the finals.
He wanted me to drink shots and dance crazily on tables.
My plan for me was to stand awkwardly in the corner until it’s time to go.
I don’t like parties, and I don’t understand the appeal of alcohol, but Oliver was a good friend, so I decided to go.
“Come on. Jessica might be there.”
Jessica Blight. One of the seniors in school.
I might have a slight crush on her.
Ok, screw that. I have a huge crush on her.
A huge, hopeless crush that only Oliver knows about.
I’m half hoping she won’t be at this party.
It was pouring outside, but it didn’t bother Oliver.
I doubt it bothered any other party-goers.
The party was thriving by the time we got there.
The two-story house was jam-packed with people.
Every single one of them had a cup in their hands. I recognised some of them from school. The jocks and the cheerleaders.
I saw Jessica.
She didn’t see me.
To her, I was just a nobody.
I wanted to leave right away. I don’t fit in here. But Oliver had the keys to the car, and all I could do was follow him into the house.
I was walking into my doom.
He actually invited me to join his parties once.
I just moved here and we were barely acquaintances. To me, all he was was the macho kid who lived next door.
It was at the first party he threw. I wasn’t feeling well that night and wanted a good night’s sleep.
When I knocked on his door, he thought I wanted to join the party.
He was quite friendly, charismatic even. A charming smile that could light up anyone’s world.
Not mine though.
His light was not enough to shine through the darkness in my mind.
God the music was so loud.
I denied his offer and told him the music was bothering my sleep.
Maybe it was my tone or my attitude, but his smile disappeared rather quickly after that.
He just apologised for the loud noise and promised to turn it down.
I was grateful, but not much changed.
The loud music still blasted in my ears.
The music brings back bad memories.
There was nothing I could do the stop the tsunami of terror in my mind.
All I could do was hide under the covers, like a child, and hope the monster will go away by itself.
I was sweating. I felt cold and my hands felt clammy.
I wanted the world to go away.
I wanted everything to go away.
I wanted to stay in a cabin in the woods, away from everybody, and just live there.
Maybe my mind can finally be at peace.
But the cruel reality still lurks around. I’m stuck in this one-bedroom studio apartment with a party raging on next door.
At least it is better than staying in my hometown.
I was enjoying the punch.
There was no visible alcohol in the house, and the only drink available was the punch.
I would have brought my own water bottle, but Oliver took it away.
“There’s gonna be drinks there. You don’t need to bring your own.”
I should have known it was spiked.
3 cups later and I was intoxicated.
I vaguely remember Oliver telling me not to drink so much, but I couldn’t care less.
I was dancing in the middle of the dance floor, cheering and laughing, having the time of my life.
Oliver was right.
I could be programmed to have fun.
Taking one night off my revision for the finals isn’t going to do much.
I still have so long left.
Nothing wrong could happen on the one night I choose to enjoy myself.
Oliver was enjoying my wild side.
Indeed, I was starting to become one of those girls who dance on top of tables while waving their jacket around with loud music blasting in the background.
I was attracting a lot of attention from the other party people.
They were cheering me on, laughing at my antics.
Even Jessica was interested.
I wanted to profess my love to her, but a sober part of my brain held me back.
Luckily, I listened to it.
Jessica flashed me a smile, I blushed and looked away.
My decisions confused me.
When I’m sober I am a joyless robot, but with alcohol, I become such a lively person.
Why haven’t I tried it before?
I should be more adventurous and try new things.
Not stay in my room all day with my laptop and book.
Socialising is important.
Had I realised it earlier, I wouldn’t be stuck with Oliver as my only friend.
I wouldn’t be excluded by everyone.
Maybe I could even have the courage to ask Jessica out.
That was the alcohol talking, but it made sense.
It wouldn’t hurt to be adventurous now and then.
Well, look where being adventurous led me to.
Alone, far away from home, hiding from the world.
I hate it here.
I miss home.
I want to leave.
But I can’t.
I still have 4 years left.
Where could I go anyways?
I have no car and little money.
I miss home, but I have to stay away.
Besides, I don’t miss my hometown, I just miss my parents and friends.
I suppose I could be talking to Oliver right now, but he is probably sleeping.
Almost everyone is sleeping at this ungodly hour now.
Everyone except me and those crazy people next door.
And people on the other side of the world, but they are in a different time zone and for them, it is day time now.
So I guess almost everyone in this time zone is asleep right now.
Except me and the party people.
(Thoughts like these distract me from the world, so I welcome them. They are my nicotine patches. They calm me down.)
People were dancing now.
They were always dancing, but this time everyone was participating.
It was those wild kinds, where everyone jumped up and down with loud music blasting through the speakers.
I’m pretty sure one of them is a DJ.
Everyone was jumping. I could feel the thumping on the ground.
Sleep was certainly not going to come, and I sort of blocked the music by using bunched up toilet paper stuffed into my ears.
I decided to read instead. Reading is man’s most effective lullaby. Well, to me anyway.
A good book can always put me to sleep after an hour.
At least, in most cases.
I could still faintly hear the music, and the continuous thumping was distracting me from my fantasy land in the book.
There was no way I could focus right now.
There was only one thing I could do.
A bit cruel, but it had to be done.
I have no other choice.
The endless parties have gone on for long enough.
It was about 2 hours into the party.
I already had countless drinks, and I just know how much my head would hurt tomorrow.
But that is future Robin’s problem. Right now it ain’t any of my business.
Jessica was approaching me.
I was a panicking mess inside. I wanted to run away, or hide behind Oliver. But Oliver was not nearby. I have to go and find him but I have to make it seem natural so Jessica won’t feel awkward but I don’t have enough courage to talk to her and-
I panicked too long to actually do anything. Jessica was already in front of me.
“Hey… Robin right?”
“The one and only.”
Ok. Play it cool play it cool.
“I’m pretty sure there are other Robins in this world.”
“Well the last time I checked, I’m the only Robin in this party. Unless someone changed their name in the past few hours I am the one and only Robin.”
Ok drunk me is kinda good at this.
She leaned in.
“Well, Robin, can we talk in private?”
Now I’m a stuttering mess. Way to go drunk me.
In hindsight, going with her was a very stupid decision. But my decision making brain was not functioning now, so I could only follow my gut.
And my gut was telling me to go with her.
My gut is dumb.
But she was Jessica, so I can’t exactly blame me.
“So Robin. Isn’t that a guy’s name?”
“It’s a neutral name. It can be used for both genders.”
“Isn’t it more used for guys though?”
“Yea. But that makes me stand out more.”
We walked to the back door. I felt that I had my panic under control.
The rain was getting smaller now. It was only drizzling. The rain droplets falling on my skin made me feel calmer.
“So what’s up?”
She looked at me and I looked back at her.
The moon was shining above us. Basked under the moonlight with the slight drizzle, it gave a really romantic feel.
It also gave me courage.
I wanted to ask Jessica out.
“Isn’t there anything you want to ask me?”
I gulped. This was my chance.
“Jessica, will you go out with me?”
Thinking back, there were several things wrong with this situation.
How did she know about my crush?
If she liked me back, why didn’t she ask me out instead?
Why did she talk to me now instead of anytime before?
Why did she have that recorder in her left hand?
All the small details which I was oblivious to.
“Jessica, will you go out with me?”
The seven words which changed my whole year.
She clicked the recorder and ran back into the house.
“ROBIN STEWARD IS GAY!”
The main power source was on the ground floor.
Everyone was laughing at me.
The security cameras did not have night vision. The building manager was too broke to buy the premium ones.
Oliver took me home in his car. He didn’t mind leaving the party early.
I had the exact location memorised.
We were silent for the whole ride.
Just in case I needed to something like this.
“Do you want me to come in?”
The door was locked.
But I was a good lockpicker, and I unlocked it in a matter of seconds.
He drove away.
The room had a musty smell. Like no one came in for years.
The next day at school was horrible.
There was a half-eaten doughnut on the table.
Homophobic slurs were screamed at me in the hallways.
There were no security cameras on the room, so it was safe to switch on the light.
They were written on my locker.
I suppose the landlord thought no one would be able to come in, since it was locked and all.
The worst of all was Jessica.
The power box was red.
The audio of me asking her out was circulated around the school.
It had another lock on it.
Almost everyone had a copy.
It was unlocked swiftly.
It was nearing the end of the school year, so I only had to endure a couple of months.
I could still hear the party upstairs.
The worst couple of months in my life.
I wanted it gone.
I knew where I wanted to go after high school.
I want the memories gone.
I want to be anywhere but there.
It was giving me flashbacks of the party, and they were giving me a headache.
I want to go somewhere where I can be accepted for who I am.
I wanted it all to stop now.
I applied to the furthest university from home and got accepted.
My hand was on the lever.
Oliver, who had helped me so much through high school, was the only one I stayed in contact with.
I pulled the lever.
The day I got on the plane was the day I left my past behind.
I listened to the screams of panic as I walked back to my apartment, closed the door, and collapsed on my bed.
It was time to start a new life.