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Giving In

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Before I start, let me explain. I’ve always thought of myself as a good person. Growing up, I never swore, cried when I was chastised by a teacher, and politely turned down all relationships. I was never much of a risk-taker. Looking back now, it`s hard to see exactly why everything changed, but I guess life is always like that. It`s not the huge, drastic events that define who a person is, but the quiet decisions of everyday life. However, before any of that can really make sense, I have to go back to the beginning.

During the summer that I was fifteen, I had two close friends. We were the giggly, cliquey type, but somehow the stereotype isn`t as irritating when you are one yourself. It was a hot night in July, and we were all camped out in my backyard. It had taken us hours that afternoon to assemble the red vinyl tent and drag out the sleeping bags, but when it was finally done and we lay outside watching the stars through the mesh top, I savoured the independence.

That particular day blended into all the others that the three of us had spent together. Janet was that person everyone knows who somehow always knew all the gossip, and she could always be persuaded to share shocking tidbits about everyone we knew. Stacey, the most charismatic of us, would suggest and organize activities or contests between us. I was the one with the jokes. Being funny was my niche, like information was Janet`s. Stacey didn’t need one.

It was late, and had been dark for hours, when Stacey sat up in the middle of a conversation and reached into her bag. Shaking back her black curls as she reached for her phone and checked her phone display, she announced “It’s time.”

Janet stood and started to slide a shiny loose black top over the tank top she’d been planning to sleep in. Confused, I racked my brain for something I’d missed earlier in the evening. Coming up with nothing, I playfully grabbed Stacey’s ankle as she rose.

“What’s going on? Did I miss something?” I asked plaintively.

Stacey smiled, and even through the dark I could see the white glint of her teeth. “Well, you remember Tyler Stanton. He’s having a huge house party tonight, and he asked me to come. And you live much closer to his house than me, so I figured you wouldn’t mind if we just came from here.” Her voice cajoled me to be okay with it, although she continued to get ready without waiting for my reply.

My brain was whirring. A senior house party? Without letting my parents know? I’d never done anything like this. Instinctively, I protested.

“This could be dangerous! We don’t know any of the seniors!”

“Maybe you don’t”, said Janet smugly. “But we do, and soon you will too. It’s really not that big a deal.”

“When did you two meet people I didn’t?” I accused angrily. “And how could you not tell me you were going to sneak out from my house? You know that I’m not that kind of person!” I could feel the hurt expression on my face, and I stood up in an attempt to regain power.

Stacey glanced over at Janet before answering. “Okay, Lucy, you’re right. I’m sorry. We won’t go. I’ll just tell Tyler I can’t make it…”

I was surprised by how easily she’d backed down, and didn’t quite know what to say. Immediately my anger left me. “I appreciate it, Stace. This means a lot”, I said, hugging her. She seemed stiff and a little less affectionate than normal in my arms, but I chalked it up to disappointment and didn’t comment.

After the confrontation, we had nothing to say and so we all settled down to go to sleep. I flicked off the flashlight that had been propped up in the corner of the tent. However, disquieted by the incident and uncomfortable from the hard earth beneath me, I couldn’t sleep, and therefore heard the rustling when it began about a half-hour later.

I froze, but instinctively continued my deep breathing. A moment later, I heard a whisper. “Ready?” came from the far end of the tent. In response, the body nearest to me slowly sat up. I waited for one of them to realize that I was awake, but Janet and Stacey quietly slid out of the tent without another word.

I lay awake for hours after they left me, my eyes open and fixed on the stars. Thoughts cycled through my head and I was immobile, trying to decide on what to do. Eventually, time slipped away from me. I was brought back to reality shortly before the sky would start to brighten, as my two friends stumbled into the tent giggling. They were much less careful coming back than they had been leaving, and neither bothered to change out of their party clothes, bringing with them the sharp scent of beer mixed in with a sickly sweet scent that I couldn’t identify.

The following morning, all three of us were red-eyed and tired, albeit for different reasons. Several hours after waking up, Stacey and Janet both began to look pale, and kept rushing into the woods by my house to throw up. Janet mumbled something about food poisoning at first, but when I didn’t respond and Stacey didn’t back her up, she stopped. As long as no one put the truth into words, we could continue to pretend.

Several days later, Stacey called me.
“So. That was fun, the other day” she began, with a question in her voice. “You want to get together next Saturday?”

I didn’t answer.

“See, my dad’s renovating, and Janet can’t have it at her place either… Can we chill at your house again?” she asked.

I was immediately taken back to that night, and the hours I’d spent torn. I stared at the floor, looking for answers, and eventually came to a decision.
“Yeah”, I said quietly.

This time, I packed heels in my overnight bag.





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