I stare up at the large house in front of us and hear the cab driving away behind us. I lift an eyebrow and look at Jen, standing next to me in her high heels, black and white checkered dress and big, backcombed hair. She told me we we’re going to a party, so what the hell are we doing here in the suburbs?
“Uhm… Jen? Is this the right place?”
She takes out her phone and taps it a few times, then she looks up and nods.
“Yeah, should be. Come on, let’s go!”
She grabs my hand and starts pulling me up towards the house. As we get closer, I hear faint music from inside and breathe a sigh of relief. At least it sounds like it could be the right place, even if it doesn’t look it.
Jen knocks on the door and I instinctively start correcting my attire: A black thigh-length dress with laced sleeves and matching heels. I don’t really like big houses like this; reminds me too much of my family home.
The door finally opens and light music start swimming out into the night. I see Ron pop out in the doorway.
“Oh, hey guys. Come on in” he smiles and wave us inside.
Of course. When Jen said we had been invited to a private party by someone from the chemistry department, I should have figured she was talking about Ron.
I look around the entryway; This place is pretty big. There’s this really cliché rich-people chandelier hanging from the ceiling and all around on shelves and the walls are pictures of the family. Typical ‘look at our beautiful, perfect family’ kind of stuff. Makes me want to barf.
We follow Ron through the house, while the music grows louder as we finally reach the party room. There are about fifteen people gathered, sitting around sofas or standing around a pool table.
Really? This is the party? What a pathetic sight. I’m about to lean in and whisper to Jen that I think we should just leave, when her eyes suddenly light up and her voice bursts forward:
“Aaron!” she calls out and start running toward a figure I recognize all too well.
Startled he turns around and makes a shocked expression when Jen jumps up to give him a big hug, which he awkwardly returns. When did these two get friendly? I don’t really like it.
Then he notices me behind her and sends me a slight smile which I ignore.
I need a drink. I ask Ron who’s still next to me, anxiously shifting his feet where to find the booze.
“Uhm, sure. Right this way” he reaches for my hand to guide me but changes his mind mid-motion and instead just points. I follow him to a table somewhere in the back of the room, behind the pool table, where different kinds of liquor bottles, beers and soft drinks are piled up. I take a cup and mix something strong. ‘God, damn you Jen’ I think to myself as I down the contents and pour myself another.
Ron is still standing anxiously next to me.
“So, uhm. Great that you guys could make it” he says, trying to start up conversation. God, I can’t do this right now.
“Yeah” is all I reply before downing my glass again.
“Oh, uhm. You seem thirsty” he remarks, and I give him a dead stare, then pour another.
“Yeah. Got anything interesting to do around here?” I ask him without any expectations. I have a feeling this is going to be the lamest party ever.
I’m six drinks in when I look at my watch an see that’s only been an hour. Fuck.
A few more people have arrived in the meantime, but I think we are like twenty-five people at maximum. That’s of course almost double the number from before, and it has gotten a little livelier, but it’s still pretty lame. A few guys have come up and talked to me and I really consider just picking one of them to go home with so I can leave this place.
But I did come here with Jen, and I don’t really want to leave that naïve girl alone. Though she seems to have been enjoying Aaron’s company. They are sitting in one of the sofa’s playing card games.
Really, what is he doing here? The party is hosted by seniors from the chemistry department and he doesn’t seem to know anyone here. I’m begging to suspect this is another one of Jen’s ploys to try and get me to have a boyfriend.
I haven’t told her what happened between me and him, so I guess she didn’t really know any better. But still, she could have asked what I thought about him before dragging me into this lame party just to meet him.
A guy walks up to me – one of Ron’s friends, I believe. I haven’t really talked to him before, but he trudges up to me and starts making polite conversation. Then suddenly he pulls out something from his pocket and asks me:
“So, you want a hit?”
I eye the small bag, containing white powder, in his hand. I’m almost tempted, seeing how lame this party is, but I don’t do drugs – and I never will – so I refuse him.
“What about something else? I’ve got a few other things out in my car, if you’re interested?” he asks persistently.
“No, thanks” I tell him.
He obviously just wants to fuck me, so why the ruse with all these drugs? He kind of annoys me, so I decide to leave my spot and head over to Jen. I really don’t want to talk to Aaron, but I’m bored out of my mind and anything is better than talking to this drug-selling idiot.
“Heeey!” Jen exclaims happily when she sees me, “Come, sit here!”
She points to a seat next to Aaron. Please Jen, could you for once stop being so oblivious?
I act like I don’t know where she’s pointing and instead take a sea in the sofa across from her.
“So, what are we playing?” I ask her, knowing she can’t resist the chance of adding one more player.
“Slap Jack! Whoever looses has to down a shot!” she tells me and from her slurred voice I can tell she must have been losing a lot.
“Count me in then” I say, and she sends me a huge smile.
As we are playing someone comes to sit next to me and I notice it’s the guy from before who was offering me drugs. He doesn’t join the game but just watches and at some point, he puts his hand on my thigh and start sliding it under my dress. I slap his hand away which makes me lose the pile, and now I’m out of cards.
“Hey, you want to get out of here?” I hear his slurred voice whisper in my ear.
“No, thanks” I reply, watching the card pile intently, waiting for a jack so I can get back in the game.
I feel his hand wrap around my waist, and he pulls me in closer, making me miss the chance to slap the jack when it finally lands.
“Hey, no need to act coy. I know you want to” he whispers in my ear.
He’s beginning to make me pretty uncomfortable, so I grab the hand he has slung around my waist and pinch it hard.
“I said no” I tell him and look him straight in the eye and he recoils from the pain. There is anger in his eyes and suddenly he slaps me.
“You fucking bitch! I was just being nice and showing you a bit of attention. With your reputation you should be happy anyone would even want to talk to you!” he yells and everybody stares at us.
My face is burning from the pain and humiliation. Shit, I can’t cry – then he’ll win.
“What the fuck are you doing to a woman?!” I suddenly hear a familiar voice yell and I turn to see Aaron sprung from his seat. His fists are clenched and his expression pure anger.
“Oh, here comes one of the boyfriends to the rescue” the drug-guy says, scoffing.
“Why protect this little whore? Do you know even know how many she’s been with? Sleep with her and you’ll just get and STD”
Then Aaron is suddenly in his face sending him to the ground with a punch. There is a ferociousness about him, that is completely unexpected, and drug-guy did not see it coming. He climbs on top of him and starts pounding his fists into the guy, who does his best to protect his face.
It takes two guys to pull him away, so I grab him and start dragging him out into the hallway. I glance back, the guy doesn’t look too bad, but he might call the cops. We need to get out here.
Jen is already following behind us and I hear her calling a cab as we make our way through the house.
Outside she asks me if there is a bus stop nearby where we can wait until it arrives.
“Good idea” I say and check my phone. There is a stop half a mile away, that we can use. She informs the driver and we start making our way there.
This night is an absolute disaster. It’s so absurd I begin laughing. Jen and Aaron both stare at me in bafflement, then Jen starts giggling too. Then Aaron – much to my surprise – and now the laughter’s just bursting out of me.
Here we are, three people on a desolate street somewhere in the suburbs in the middle of the night after the most disastrous party, laughing. The cab driver must think we are high or something, when he arrives to pick us up.
For some reason we all get in the backseat and I end up in the middle.
When the mood finally calms down I hear Aaron whisper:
“Sorry, I ruined the party.”
His looking down at his hands and look genuinely upset.
“Oh, that was already a disaster” I tell him, still feeling a little giggly.
…And lightheaded, so I lean my head against his shoulder.
“You’ve really got quite the temper there” I tell him and I’m about to make some stupid joke, when I notice the tension in his jaw.
Something tells me I shouldn’t push that button. Now I feel a little nervous.
We ride for a bit and the mood feels a bit heavy. Jen starts snoring in the seat next to me, and now it’s just me and Aaron keeping up the awkward silence.
“Aaron?” I whisper.
“You know… thank you. No one has ever really gotten angry for me before…”
The words kind of just spill out and I’m surprised by my own honesty. Aaron is silent for a while. Then he grabs my hand and for some reason I don’t pull away from his touch.