Knowing When This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 12, 2012
Tank tops, boxer shorts, newly-designed hairdos and faces painted with all the wrong shades of make-up: another Saturday night slumber party with best friends. Julie, Molly and I had been friends since Julie’s mom forgot to pack her a snack the first day of fourth grade. Friends already, Molly and I agreed to share our half-eaten granola bars and chocolate milk with the new girl. None of us would ever have guessed that this act of kindness would lead to many potato chip-filled, secret-sharing nights.

Tonight, however, was different. We were edgy and nervous, quick to snap at each other. The carefree make-up escapades were over as we each tried to look our best and ravaged Molly’s bathroom for the perfect shade of eye shadow. I stepped back once to notice the chaos that had engulfed us, but was quickly snapped out of it as Julie snatched the mascara from my hand. Molly, realizing Julie now possessed the key to long, luscious lashes, quickly chased after her. I chuckled as I watched my two best friends run out the door.

Our playfulness had returned, and I joined in the wrestling match on the bed, the prize no longer mascara but the pure enjoyment of friendship. We were interrupted by the doorbell, and shrieked with anticipation. They’re here! I thought. Rolling off the bed, we pushed and shoved for a small corner of the mirror to check our hair and makeup. With the second ring we cavorted down to the front door and anxiously waited for Molly to open it. She hesitated and looked at us uneasily. After all, we weren’t just opening her front door, but a whole new era. Once this door was opened there would be dating, holding hands, kissing and heartbreak. The third ring reminded us that we couldn’t back out now. Molly opened the door to three sweaty-palmed boys, obviously as nervous as we, and invited them in.

Gathering in the living room, the three of us strategically placed ourselves around the table so that we were each next to the boy of our dreams. After sitting in silence for a minute, Molly offered drinks and all three boys accepted, probably out of hope that it would spark conversation. Julie, Molly and I glided toward the kitchen attempting to look as graceful as possible, but fell all over each other as we reached it, babbling in hushed whispers about “our boys.” Regaining composure we stepped back into the spotlight and rejoined them at the table.

“Got any cards?”

“Um, yeah, just a minute,” Molly said as she leaned over and reached in a desk drawer. “Here you are,” she said, flashing a smile as she handed them over.

“Poker, anyone?” one of the boys suggested. The three of us shot glances at each other knowing full well that none of us knew much about poker.

“Sure,” Julie said, flashing a smile in her crush’s direction. I looked at the boy sitting next to me and smiled at him, almost out of obligation. Picking up my cards, I looked at them with a blank stare, not sure how they could work together to mean anything.

“Hey,” the boy next to me said. “Look what I’ve got.” Pulling a joint out of his pocket, he rolled it between his fingers as though admiring a precious gem. “I stole it from my brother’s room, but he won’t notice, he has tons. Wanna try it?” He thrust it toward me. All I could do was look at it. I tried to say something, but when I opened my mouth, all that came out was air.

“Pass it this way,” one of the other boys said. Lighting it, he took a puff and passed it to Julie. Nervously, she took it and inhaled. Not knowing what to expect, she inhaled too much and ended up coughing.

“Here, let me try,” Molly said, grabbing the joint from Julie.

“All right, but let’s play,” one of the boys said, retrieving his cards from the table. Everyone else followed his lead and picked up their cards. Molly put the joint to her lips, inhaled and coughed just as Julie had. The boy between us laughed as he picked up the joint after Molly dropped it and took a puff himself. It was my turn next. A hundred excuses and reasons ran through my mind. Focused on my cards, the red and black became a blur. I laid my cards face down on the table.

“I fold.” Getting up, I grabbed my coat. It was their turn to watch me walk out the door.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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