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Tara

Tara stumbled out of the car, moving forward without even a glance toward Ashleigh, who was still at the wheel. “See you Monday,” Tara said quietly, but her words came out jumbled – slurred. Her friend nodded tersely before putting the car into drive and speeding off into the night. The wheels caught against the pavement, making a horrible screeching noise and causing Tara to wince and cringe back. There would probably be tire marks visible the next morning, a reminder of the night’s secret outing.

She made her way to the back door in what she thought was a slow and careful manner, but her feet still tripped her up, and more than once she had to put her arms out to catch herself on the way down. It took a clumsy few minutes to dig in her pocket and get the house key, and when she dropped it, Tara swore.

The alcohol in her stomach felt like it was sloshing around as Tara felt about in the dewy grass for the key. Finally, after much cussing and false alarms, the key was found and Tara slipped into the house, hoping groggily that her parents were deep, deep asleep.

As she tried to recall the events of the night, Tara stopped in her tracks. She swayed back and forth, in danger of falling. She couldn’t remember a thing.

She could remember arriving with Ashleigh at their mutual friend’s house. She could remember feeling a bit awkward at first – there were a lot of college-age people there, who she didn’t know – but also that that feeling had faded more and more with every drink she had, until the world was a safe and comfortable fuzz. She could remember that cute senior boy who took her hand and told her that he hadn’t seen her around before. They had done more than hold hands. What had his name been? She couldn’t remember. Tara could not remember a thing from the time the party picked up, to the time she was practically shoved into the passenger seat of Ashleigh’s Toyota.

Even in her state, Tara was scared. The fear waited and advanced along her fuzzy world’s edges. What had happened at that party? Tara was desperate to know, yet frightened of the answers she might find.

Her room was just up ahead – not even five feet away – and yet it seemed like forever and a day until she was inside, safe. The trek to her bed felt even longer. Tara didn’t even bother removing her rumpled, partied-in clothes.

And even though she was terrified that she had actually blacked-out, Tara knew that she would go to another party – would drink another unknown number of shots and unimaginable amounts of that fiery whiskey that her friends thought was so good (though actually, it was about the only thing that made Tara gag). Her life wasn’t in her control, she thought briefly. Despite her dangerous experiences, she was in too deep.

Tara closed her eyes – shutting out the sudden barrage of unnerving thoughts – and collapsed on her bed, finally surrendering to sleep just as her head hit the pillow.





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