Before long Courtney showed up and they started jabbering like crazy, just talking on-top of each other, no words really even heard, just the joy of excitement and anticipation and friendship. They adjusted each others makeup fawned over each-others clothing and went downstairs in a disjointed rush. Her mom was waiting in the kitchen with a huge smile, obviously remembering what they were going through, what that felt like; Dad of course in his chair in the living room. The jabbering continued with her mom briefly jumping right in and keeping perfect time with them, then they said their goodbyes, kissed dad who made some half hearted warnings about-being late-boys something, but she could barely focus on anything, and before she knew it they were in Courtney’s car with the windows down, the spring air was warm and felt so good and fresh; the stereo blaring her favorite songs and they screaming the words at the top of their lungs.

When they arrived at the party there was already a million people, and it took them what seemed like hours to make their way through to the house, having to say hi and chat every step it seemed. She was surprised to discover that she knew practically everyone there and they all seemed so happy to see them. A lot of people said happy birthday to her, cause her birthday was on Thursday and she hadn’t seen them for whatever reason. Finally, after what seemed like forever, they made it into the house and if she thought it was crowded outside, it was nothing compared to inside. It was nuts, she had only been to a couple real parties in her life and they had mainly consisted of maybe 12 people sitting around drinking, smoking weed and listening to music; maybe some beer pong, This was a full out rager, like you see in the movies. She could feel her face was just in a perma grin, and that made her smile even more, this was so cool. Courtney started just pushing people aside as they made their way through the house, she was on a mission to find drinks for them. Eventually, they found the keg, and what looked like a banquet table with a bunch of big handled plastic bottles on it with stacks of blue and red plastic cups. Courtney immediately started mixing a bunch of stuff together, shoved the first one into my hand, then finished hers and led them back through the house. She took a sip of her drink, and other than the fact that it was room temperature it wasn’t too bad; really strong though, she wasn’t used to drinking and she could feel her stomach just twist after the first sip. From there they made their way around the house, stopping and chatting with friends all along the way; the music was loud so you had to be really close to someone, then just yell. She was just thinking about what a great time she was having when she saw Him. It was Jack. He was making his way to the keg with a friend and they were talking wildly and loudly to each other. Her heart started beating like crazy and she started to feel warm. Courtney was immediately beside her telling her to go talk to him. She couldn’t! She blurted out; feeling very shy and vulnerable in that moment. ‘Common!’ Courtney yelped, and grabbed her by the hand and started leading her towards Jack, towards HIM! She was struck with such an overwhelming panic that she quickly ripped her hand away; Courtney turned with a confused look on her face and thinking quickly, just told her I would, but I had to find a bathroom first, ‘Just wait here, ok?’ ‘Do you want me to go with you?’ ‘No, it’s ok, I’ll be right back, wait here’, ‘ok, hurry up before he disappears.’ This last part made her anxious, she really wanted to talk to him but just in that moment she wasn’t ready. It was too quick, she wanted to settle into the party a little first. The drink started to warm her up and she felt she would be ready soon. I’ll just go take a few deep breaths, relax and I’ll be fine. She turned and started through the kitchen and into the back room where Courtney told her the bathroom was. This room had much less people, just a few couples speaking quietly on the two small couches and thankfully, no line to the bathroom. She imagined in a house like this there must be a lot of bathrooms.

When she entered the bathroom she noticed how nice and new and modern it looked. Not at all like the dreary, drab, tiny, dark bathroom at her house. Everything was shiny and new, and the air was fresh and smelled like freshly cut flowers. Wow, this is nice! she thought. She looked in the mirror to check on all her bits of glamour, the lip gloss with flecks of luminous pink, the shooting star she had placed just so on her cheek in radiant reds and golds and silvers; the light blue eyeshadow with the flickering sapphire, everything still perfect, she was so happy, and she was just positive that Jack was looking at her and wanted to talk to her. How many times had they made eye contact? 3–4? At least. She would figure out a way to talk to him when she went back out, she was sure she could convince Courtney to make something up; she was good at that stuff. She didn’t give a shit about anything! OK, she was in there for a bit now, time to get moving before someone came, she was about to make her way to the door when she glanced at the toilet and noticed that it was covered with pee. Oh gross! Guys are such pigs, who would leave it like that. She looked away and started again for the door when she heard the knock. Bam! Bam! Bam! A heavy, drunken hand pounded on the door. Oh shit! Their going to think she made the mess! Fuck! She had to clean the toilet or she would be humiliated. She looked around for something to wipe it with, there was nothing; under the sink? Nothing. She would have to use toilet paper. Gross. She grabbed a bunch of toilet paper and started to gingerly wipe the toilet seat, the piss soaking through almost immediately; her thumb accidentally falling directly into the mess. She could feel herself almost puke.

Omg, she was taking too long now, how long ago was the first knock, 5 minutes? 10?15?! They were going to think she was taking a shit, oh my god, what was she going to do now?! The knock came again more insistent and her heart jumped into her throat, then a voice,”Hellooo?” “Somebody dead in there”?! Oh No! no no no no! It was Jack, oh god! Why me! Why! She grabbed more toilet paper and started to try and wipe the edges of the mess again, the urine was soaking through the paper instantly and getting on her, she started to gag as the moistness ran down her fingers and onto her hand, she whipped the wad into the garbage and ran to the sink to wash the urine off her hand, the knocking came again and she jumped, she had to do something, say something.

She had to get out of this bathroom, how? She looked around furtively, not knowing what she was looking for, what could help her now…. She thought if she saw a gun she might use it on herself in that moment. She glanced at the window which was cracked open a bit, the lace curtains billowing slighting from the warm spring breeze. She couldn’t explain why, but she started to move then, slowly towards the window, still not knowing what she would do and balancing one hand on the wide shelf on the other side, stretched over the tub to look down and see how far the ground was. They were on the first floor so she saw the flowers and bushes almost immediately. The large sill was wide enough to sit on and was covered with various oils, soaps and salts.

Without thought, like a zombie, she mechanically stepped into the classic high claw-foot tub, her face blank as she started to roughly push all the beauty products out of her way. In a dreamlike trance now, the banging on the door, frantic, but just a murmur in her mind, she began to crawl on the shelf towards the window, she had a vague memory of glass breaking but didn’t stop or look, all she could think was escape. When she got to the window, she knelt and with both hands tried to pull it up, used to the old windows at her house, half of which she couldn’t budge, she gave it everything she had and it exploded straight up into the jam with a loud bang. It had risen so effortlessly she lost her balanced and tumbled backwards into the tub, her legs sticking straight up, still on the shelf, her head turned awkwardly on the side of the tub, she immediately started to struggle up, this is ridiculous, she thought and almost smiled. What am I doing?! Quickly she scrambled up, forgetting the throbbing in her head from banging it on the tub and not caring about anything but getting the fuck out of there; she slid on her belly along the shelf and tumbled headfirst out the window, her hair and dress getting caught in the bush as she landed on the moist ground and flowers in a heavy tangled thump. Ugh, everything hurt now, dirt covered her everywhere and she was soaked from the plants being watered today; going back in the party was not an option. She tried to push herself up and the pain in her hand made her stop and she found that some glass from a perfume bottle was embedded there. Sitting in the slop, still under the bushes, she examined her hand and removed the narrow, pink, glass sliver, Happy Birthday! she thought ruefully.

She crawled out of the bushes and flower beds then, crushing the pretty pinks and yellows and not caring. When she stood up, she was afraid to look down at herself and her outfit, the dirt ground in no doubt, ruined. She wanted to sit and just cry but she had to get out of there before someone saw. She staggered out of the bushes and started towards the street careful not to be seen, as she slipped into the shadows of the trees, she could hear people in the bathroom and as she looked back she saw the heads that were peering out of the very same window she had slithered out of moments earlier.

She staggered the 5 blocks home then, staying out of the streetlights, careful not to be noticed, moving deeper into the shadows whenever a car passed, a wet, shaggy mess. Fumbling in her small purse she found her phone and felt a moment of panic as she saw the 15 messages from Courtney, she couldn’t bear to look at any of them. It was still too soon to try and formulate the excuses she would need to explain her disappearance, so she just quickly sent a text saying she felt sick and had decided to go home, and that she was sorry she didn’t say bye; which of course invited a flood of other messages, which of course, she would ignore for the night; anxious to get home and hopefully die in her sleep.

When she arrived at her house the lights were all still on, her parents were no doubt going about their usual evening in the living room in front of the TV, mom reading and glancing up to stay informed as to the drama unfolding before her as dad drifted in and out of slumber. The last thing she wanted to do right now is explain anything. So, as stealthy as a ninja, she went around towards the back of the house, and in a practice performed many times before, silently slid open the screen and then the glass door and slipped inside. Walking through the screened in porch then another door to test her skill, then into the kitchen and up the back stairs to sanctuary. Not bothering to stop in her room, she went right to the bathroom and again, without a sound, closed the door behind her and turned on the light. What she saw then she will never forget. Her hair was a tangled, sodden mess, she wouldn’t be surprised if a bird flew out at this point, honestly. Her glittering makeup, so perfect before and that she had been so proud of, was smudged and smeared and missing in places and it was then that she could see that she must have been crying the whole way home as the only clean spots on her face ones marked by tears. God, what a night. She began the process of undressing when she heard the knock on the door “Colbie?” “Is that you?” Ugh, mom, how did she find her so fast, how did she know?! moms….. “Yes mom”, she heard herself say, but knew more would be required “everything’s ok” “just felt a little sick so I came home, I’m going to just take a shower now an go to bed ok? Can we just talk tomorrow? I’m really tired” she repeated that last part hoping it would satisfy her, but also knowing better. “What happened?” “You’ve only been gone a couple hours, did something happen?” “Do you want me to make you some tea?” mom pressed. “No mom, I’m good, just tired, it was fun but I just felt queasy so I came home, I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow” and as she was saying this turned the shower on to hopefully squelch any further inquisition”. She held her breath then, not knowing if she had done enough. “OK, let me know if you need anything” her mom said and then nothing. Oh, thank god. She felt bad, she normally would have told her mom everything, she wanted to, but now right now, the humiliation was still too fresh.

She stayed in the shower a long time, the hot water felt so good as she washed all the grime and chill out of her body and hair, scrubbing her legs with a coral sponge and gel. She sat for a while on the floor of the tub, rubbing the sore spot on her head as she replayed the crazy night she had, the second tub she had squatted in tonight she thought and laughed a little, her whole body it seemed covered in scratches and bruises from the falls and bushes she crawled through, stinging in the hot water; she didn’t mind it. After a long time she got out, applied her favorite scented cream over her whole body trying to smooth her wounded legs, that were sure to look worse in the days to come; and putting on her soft fluffy pink robe moved towards the bathroom door. When she reached the door she stopped and listened, trying to hear if anyone was around, if anyone was close. She delicately opened it a crack and peered out, the hallway was dark and the house was quiet; all she could see was the faint light from her bedroom far down the end of the hall. When she felt confident that she was alone, she moved just outside the door.

Once out of the bathroom she stopped again, listening to any sounds of life, she could hear the faint snoring of her father from her parents bedroom at the other end of the hall to the right of the bathroom; confident no one would ambush her she moved swiftly to her room, the warm light and flower smells enveloping her as she quickly dropped her robe and clambered onto her bed, twisting the light off and scrambling under her feathery comforter. Her familiar fuzzy companions soothing as she covered her head with the fluffy blanket; the bed warming instantly and she exhaled and sunk deeper into it. 16 sucks.

Writer, artist. brettcurley@gmail.com.

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