The PartyJonathan Bell was throwing a party the weekend that Steven made his decision. It was not a decision I even knew that I was going to be a part of until I was smack in the middle of it, and I went to the party like it was any other party, dressed my best to impress Steve and wow my friends. A short black dress with buttons on the chest and a belt around the waist, my blonde-streaked brown hair curled and covered in so much hairspray that I practically had an asthma attack by merely breathing. My lips were covered in a candy shade of pink gloss and my cheeks just rosy enough, complimenting the dark eyeliner that surrounded my chocolate brown eyes in just the right way. It took hours, but it was worth it.
When I walked through the door of the Bell home, I immediately noticed Sarah hanging on Steven’s arm like she had been super glued. He smiled at me from across the room as she continued to babble to him about something that he clearly didn’t care about. I smiled back because I knew that Sarah wouldn’t notice, and that if I didn’t I would just blush and look stupid. He turned his attention back to Sarah and attempted to unhook himself from her death grip. He nodded politely, taking discrete steps away from her, until he had been swallowed by the raging crowd of freshmen. Sarah stood, disappointed, and picked a red plastic cup, taking a long sip. She shot me a dirty look when she noticed me watching. I glanced away.
The music bounced off of the walls and around the room, filling all available space with its obnoxiously loud techno beats and cryptic lyrics. I searched for Steven’s cropped dirty blonde hair amongst the bobbing, swaying heads he had disappeared into, but he was gone. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sarah tilt her head back and finish off the golden yellow liquid that had filled the plastic cup. She crushed it, tossing it into the blooming decorative flower pot and stumbling off.
I joined the crowd and found my friends, their breath giving away the beer they had been guzzling. Tracy smiled at me and pulled me on to the dance floor, Marianna following closely behind. The dance floor was euphoric, with flashing lights and brightly colored confetti scattering around my feet. Tracy yelled over the music. “Have you seen Steven?”
Of course I have. I nodded. “He was with Sarah,” I shouted. Marianna made a barfing sound. Tracy wanted the details, and my throat was already starting to become sore. I pulled her and Marianna off of the floor and into an unoccupied office room. I plopped into the swivel chair. They sat on the floor. It reminded me of story time in kindergarten.
I told them of the encounter, his smile, and my awkward grin that I gave in return. And I mentioned Sarah, her fingers wrapped desperately around Steven’s forearm, until he pulled it free and vanished.
“Cute,” Tracy said, smiling. She burped and laughed a drunken, hiccupping giggle. Marianna nodded and agreed.
“Steven so likes you,” she said, picking up a red cup that had been tossed carelessly to the floor to check if there was any beer left in it. She shook her head and discarded it into the wastebasket that sat next to the cherry wood desk. I wondered if I was the only one sober at the party.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. He’s always around Sarah.”
Tracy made a huffing sound. “Sarah-Shmarah. Once Steven sees how-” she hiccupped, “hot you look at this party he will be-” another hiccup, “practically throwing himself at you.”
I flattened the flared skirt of the black dress I was wearing and smiled. “Thanks, Trace.”
Marianna beamed, a little less wasted than Tracy. A little. “Don’t worry about it.” I thanked her too, and told them that I was going to search for Steven. Tracy cheered, then hurled into the wastebasket, Marianna holding her hair back.
I left and went back to the party. People were bumping into each other and laughing at things that weren’t funny. Steven was nowhere to be found, and I felt suddenly mortified that I was even looking for him. Embarrassed and red-faced, I dashed into the nearest room and slammed the door behind me. I slid down the ugly brown walls, falling onto the cushy gray carpet.
And then I realized that I wasn’t alone.