The Sweater Song: Part One

Time was drawing down dangerously fast and my heart was pounding faster with every second that passed. This was the single event that could bring the entire town of Sooke together in one area and I cursed under my breath as I scanned through the faces in hopes of stumbling upon the one that I was searching for. Little crowds gathered to sit on the soft cushion offered by the grass under the darkness of the night sky. I stopped caring about the way that I would appear as I hopped over chairs and blankets, getting right up in strangers’ faces to identify them because I was absolutely desperate to find her. Night and day I’d thought about this opportunity, convinced that it would never be anything more than a fantasy, but now my feet couldn’t move fast enough because it was Canada Day and the annual fireworks threatened to begin at any minute and in some bizarre twist of events, Brianna Simpson was waiting for me, of all people. This would be the best moment of my summer if it wasn’t for the fact that she’d completely disappeared.

Countless nights have I spent imagining my dream setting, trying desperately to define the season of summer. It was about seven o’clock when I’d made my way down the rocky trail behind the local recreational centre and my feet found the alternate reality that I had tried so hard to picture. It was a baseball field with the greenest of grass, scattered with kids around my age who were all consumed in pleasant conversation, content to be united under the freedom of summer. Empty cups, cans, bottles, and boxes littered the ground around their feet, smoke rose from different clusters and wafted over the area to leave the faint scents of cigarettes and marijuana. The hot sun was cooling, but it didn't fail to illuminate the celebration.
I spotted a group of my teammates and made my way towards them. We exchanged stories of our summers and caught up with each other, promising to make plans to see more of each other - the kind of plans that no one ever really follows through with because everyone was drunk and it only seemed like a good idea at the time. When there was a break in the conversation, I accepted the opportunity to scan the crowd and it wasn't long before my eyes locked on a short, beautiful girl with long black hair that fell over her back and shoulders in a wavy mess. She was wearing a light blue tank top with jean cut-offs and I couldn't help but appreciate the outfit. Her hands were void of a drink but she stumbled back and forth, grabbing nearby friends to hold herself up because her boyfriend was nowhere to be found. A smile caught the side of my lips at the feeling of my chest beginning to throb.
Brianna was drunk.
A mixture of fear, excitement, and nerves bundled into an uncomfortable ball in my stomach as I watched her walk in a jagged line towards my circle of friends. Once she arrived, her eyes rose in my direction and my half-smile transformed into a full-fledged, teeth-baring, lopsided grin and she excitedly smiled back at me.
“Tia! Hey! I haven’t seen you since like… the library!” Brianna exclaimed, referring to the 'spare' that I had during the second semester of grade 11. I'd dropped my film class in order to spend every 'D' block in the school's library, waiting for the occasional day when she'd be ahead in math because she'd always escape to the quiet haven and sit with me.
Then she did something that sent me into overdrive. Instead of stopping a few feet in front of me, she continued forward to close the distance between us and stretched her arms outward to wrap them around my shoulders in the most mind blowing hug I’d ever had the pleasure of receiving. It took less than a second for all the blood in my body to rush to my head and I swore I blushed more vibrantly than ever before. I clutched the beer bottle in my palm a little tighter and my free hand stretched out over the small of her back to tug her a little closer. She was small, my skin jumped when it made contact with her tiny frame and I was surprised by the solid feel of her underneath my fingertips, as I was half expecting the nothingness of air to replace her, like she was a ghost.

The party began to disperse as the evening sky began to set in, shading the sky light blues but hiding the golden yellow of the sun. Brianna was hanging out with a girl named Carmen, who she wouldn’t normally talk to, but they were acting like the best of friends tonight, due entirely to alcohol. Carmen was beginning to get impatient, wanting to make her way to the flats and find whatever boy it was that she had arrived with. Carmen gave out her requests and Brianna drunkenly complied, following her sickeningly thin friend towards the long stretch of wooden steps that lead to the parking lot of the Seaparc Leisure Complex.
I stuck to the pretty girl like I was a lost puppy, desperate to hold on to this opportunity to spend time with her, because I couldn't find the courage to be this relaxed around her if circumstances were different and she wasn't completely obliterated. Instead of taking the few steps around to the bottom of the stairs, Brianna decided it would be quicker to cut up the short bank on which the wooden plank rested. She'd made it halfway up by the time I tried to persuade her otherwise, and my hand quickly shot to her back to steady her when gravity threatened to knock her backwards into me. She attempted another step forward when her foot slipped on a rock and she toppled forward onto her hands and knees. My clumsy hands snaked to her waist in attempt to hold her up but she knocked my feet out from underneath me and I came crashing down on top of her.
"Oh god, I'm sorry. Are you okay? I'm sorry," I muttered nervously as I quickly struggled to stand and pull her back up with me.
"Yeah, I'm fine, it's okay," She replied, nonchalantly, as if it hadn't even happened. She took two more steps and reached the flat ground at the bottom of the stairs. Carmen reappeared at her side once again.
We began the ascent to the top and it took about four steps for Brianna to trip, catching herself so that she didn't end up on the ground again. Carmen and I instantly reached out to offer the girl some extra balance, and she accepted by throwing an arm over each of our shoulders and we escorted her the rest of the way.
"Guys, really, I'm fine, you don't have to hold onto me," Brianna began to protest mere steps away from the top, but we ignored her, keeping our arms protectively wrapped around her back. We cleared the final step to find five cops waiting at the top, ticket books out and prepped, their eyes locked on the beautiful mess that we were busy keeping upright.
We quickly dropped our hold on her, but it was too late. It was as if she was snapped into sobriety as she stood upright and tried to walk right past all of the uniforms, unsuccessfully, of course. My hero complex kept me tight to her side, disregarding the bag full of alcohol that was strapped to my back. I tried to come up with anything that I could to help get her out of this situation, but my mouth remained closed as I continued to draw up blanks in my mind.
"Hey, I remember you... you're Brianna, right? You were there that one time on Churchill, weren't you?" The young officer said, and I doubted Brianna could've been any more doomed than she was at that moment. She didn't respond to his comment as he flipped open to a fresh page in his ticket book. She just looked trapped, running her hands through her hair, and it hurt me to watch her seem so helpless.
He started rattling off all of the basic questions, and she began to plead with him that she couldn't get in trouble with her mom again like this. After ten minutes passed, and I couldn't be feeling any more pathetic for not being able to fix her situation, we were finally able to continue on our misadventure.

(See The Sweater Song: Part Two for rest of the story.)





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