For complete disclaimers see part 1.

If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at:




Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman


Part 2

I tapped the eraser of my No. 2 on my notebook as I examined my doodle. Art certainly wasn’t in my future, well, if it was I’d put the old adage "starving artist" to all new heights.

Deciding my lopsided housed needed a shrub near the front door, I turned the pencil in my fingers and began to sketch.


Nearly squealing in surprise, my head shot up to see a very exasperated Haley looking down at me. I looked to see her one hundred pound backpack sitting on the table where it had been tossed.

"So, were you trying to break the table in half? I’m sure if you do that again, you’ll succeed."

"I’m sorry. I think I scared you." She grinned at me. I looked down at my picture at the long line that was apparently an elongated shrub. I nodded.

"And you’d be right. What’s up?" With a heavy sigh, Haley flopped down in the chair next to me.

"I need help. Are you free? It’s Thursday, your tutoring day, right?" I nodded.

"Yeah, some guy named Kevin Rogers was supposed to show up, and," I glanced at my watch, "he’s really late. So, lucky you." I smiled. "What the problem?"

"Physics lab. I don’t understand this, Andi. I’ve never seen myself as stupid at all. So why am I suddenly now? I swear, something happened over the summer, and suddenly I’m just … stupid." I smiled.

"Let me see." Haley tugged her bag to her, and unzipped it, grabbing the lab book.

"I understand it, well I thought I did, but none of my labs come out right. I don’t get it, Andi."

"Hey, it’s okay." I could see the distress on her face and hear it in her voice. "We’ll work on this, okay?" She nodded, but I still don’t think she fully believed me. "Magnetism, huh?" She nodded again. "It’s not a real easy concept to grasp, so don’t worry."

"You get it."

"I’m a science geek, of course I get it." She smiled. "Okay, what have you done so far with the lab? Did you bring the magnets with you?" She reached into her backpack and drew out the magnets. "Alright. Now, show me what you’ve done so far."

"No, you’ll laugh." I grinned, shaking my head.

"Not at all. I need to see what you’ve done, Haley, and where you’re going wrong." She studied me for a moment, then with a sigh grabbed the magnets.

"You promise you won’t laugh?"

"Of course." She grabbed the textbook from me, reading the instruction, and began to perform the simple experiment. I watched her, amazed that she’d come to me again. Why not Rodman?

"I talked to Mr. Rodman yesterday, and he went over this with me, but unfortunately I guess it didn’t stick."

Oh. I guess she did.

"So I was your last hope, huh?" I grinned. She gave me a mock glare.

"So, are you watching?"


"Okay, so I get this far, they begin to pull, then suddenly they stop. I don’t get it."

"Do it again." I leaned forward, watching carefully. With a nod of my head, I reached into my bag, grabbing the paper I’d just gotten back today in English. I took the paperclip off, and reached over to the magnets that had, once again, stopped in the middle of the experiment. I held the metal clip directly between them, and within two seconds, both raced forward to slam together.

Haley sat back, surprised.

"How did you do that?" she asked, her eyes still on the magnets, tightly snuggled together.

"Well, unfortunately those instructions suck in that book. With these kind of magnets you need a metal component." I pulled the magnets apart, holding the paperclip up to show her. "There isn’t much metal here, but it’s enough." Haley grabbed the clip out of my fingers, looking at it, shaking her head. She looked at me with a grin.

"You’re good." I shrugged the compliment off, beaming inside. She opened her mouth, but I put my hand up to stop her.

"Don’t feel stupid. I’m sure just about everyone in the class is having the same problem." She smiled as she loaded everything back into her bag, fingering the magnets as she looked at me.

"Thanks, Andi. I think I’ll only pass physics this year because of you." I laughed.

"I doubt that, but thanks." Haley stood, lugging the backpack over her shoulder. She stopped and looked at me, narrowing her eyes as a thought occurred to her.

"So, are you done here? For today?" I nodded. "Come on. I’ll give you a ride home."

I looked out the window at the rear of the library. "It’s hardly raining or snowing outside." I looked up at her. She put a hand on her hip.

"Do you want a ride or not?" Without a word I stood, shoving everything into my bag, and following her out of the building.

We drove on in silence for a few minutes, trying not to hit any students who felt the need to wander around the parking lot and driveways of the high school. I shook my head.

"How did they ever make it to this age?" I heard Haley’s chuckle. Finally off grounds, she picked up the speed, and set out for home. On the way we passed a strip known as Grease Lane. Every type of fast food restaurant and pizza joint you could think of lined the street.

"Hey, are you hungry?" I turned to see Haley looking at Carlos’ Pizza Heaven.


I grabbed the oh shit handle above my door, and held on as with a small squeal of tires, we entered the parking lot. I looked at Haley, eyes wide.


"How did you make it to this age?" She grinned, and pulled the parking break and turned off the engine.

Pizza Heaven was a place where the kids often came to hang out. I passed here every day on my walk home, and would see the same cars from the school parking lot shooting into this one. I’d almost gotten hit by them a few times.

I felt weird walking in with Haley, knowing we’d run into our peers here. I hadn’t even noticed I was walking a few paces behind Haley until I ran smack into her. I looked up at her, smiling sheepishly.

"You know, you’re not my slave. Feel free to walk with me." I said nothing, but began to walk; this time Haley had to catch up.

It was a seat yourself place, so we found a booth near a window, and sat down, both immediately grabbing a menu.

"So, in the mood for pizza? We could share one." I looked over my menu to see Haley still behind hers. I could just see the very top of her dark eyebrows and forehead.

"Sure. What do you like?" Suddenly those brilliant blue eyes were staring into mine with an intensity.

"Meat. Lots of meat." I grinned, nodded as I set my menu aside.

"Okay. Order up."

The waitress came, and Haley ordered our medium pizza loaded with hamburger, sausage and Canadian bacon. I ordered my usual, Dr. Pepper. Our drinks came, and as Haley sipped her Coke, she stared at me.

"Why don’t you go by your name?" I looked at her, taken aback.

"My name? I do go by my name."

"No, I mean Andrea. That’s what your mom called you, and well, mothers do know best." I shook my head.

"Not this time. I hate that name."

"Why?" She grabbed a napkin out of the table dispenser, and took her gum from her mouth, wrapping it up in a piece of the napkin. I shrugged as I watched her.

"It’s so girly." She smiled as she tucked the wad into the plastic ashtray near the wall.

"Well, you are a girl, Andi."

"Eh," I grabbed the pepper shaker, turning it around in my hands. "Not an Andrea-kind of girl." I really didn’t like the conversation being based on me, and certainly not on my choice to go by Andi. Hell, I understood it, so why should I have to explain myself? "So what about Haley? Where did that come from?"

"My father is an astronomer."

"Ah. The comet, huh?" She groaned and looked away as she nodded.

"Yeah. He’s a little obsessed. My parents felt the need to name my brother and I after their respective careers. I don’t get it." I sipped from my soda.

"What’s your brother’s name?"

"Holden Dante Corregan." I raised my brows in surprise.

"Wow. I guess. So the kid’s a theological cynic?" Haley chuckled.

"More like a pain in the ass, but that works, too."

"How old is he?"

"Fifteen. He just started Winston this year."

"Hey, mine, too." I grinned.

"Really, who’s your brother?"

"Chris Littman."

"Don’t know him."

"Here you go, ladies." The waitress set a steaming pan of pizza down between us, giving us each a plate and fork. "Enjoy."

We both dug in with abandon, savoring every bite of hot, spicy, sauce smothered pizza. Neither of us felt the need to say a word; our only thought was food.

I sat back, having just finished my third piece, knowing full well that Haley had matched me slice for slice, yet she grabbed a fourth.

"Wow, and people say I have a healthy appetite." The only answer I got was a grunt as Haley quickly put it away. I had to admit, I was truly impressed. I had absolutely no idea where she put it all, her thin, well-toned frame gave no secrets away. I knew she probably worked at it like I did, as soccer was on its way in a few months.

Finally she sat back, wiping her mouth, a satisfied look on her face.

"Now, that’s good pizza," she said with a smile, patting her stomach.

"Yeah, I’m getting that impression. Enjoyed it, did you?" She grinned, nodding, pushing her plate away.

"So, Andi."

"Yes, Haley?"

"What is it like to be you?"

"Excuse me?" I nearly spit the soda I’d just drank back into the cup. What an odd question.

"Well, I mean, you’re so different from most of the people we go to school with, you’re just, just, well, unique."

"Oh, so you’re wanting to know what it’s like to be the school wallflower?" She cocked her head to the side, sizing me up.

"You know, I think you could make yourself very known if you wanted to. You’re a smart girl, I think you do it on purpose. Why?"

"Well, you figured me out." I set my cup onto the table, and sat back in the booth. "To put it plain, I think most of the people we go to school with are idiots."

"Well, you are blunt, aren’t you?"

"Why lie?" I shrugged to emphasize my point. "Most, from what I’ve seen, aren’t real serious about their education, and are there because they have to be or their folks would get a nice visit from the cops. They have no interest in bettering themselves, and they’re cruel."

Haley looked at me for a moment, absorbing my words. She played with the straw in her cup, taking it out to chew on the end of it.

"What do you mean cruel?" she asked, her words sounding strange wrapped around the plastic of the straw.

"Well, haven’t you just walked down the halls and watched how they treat each other? Saying terrible things, doing stupid pranks, all the cliques. It drives me nuts. I have one more year left in this hell called high school, then I can head off to college and really start life."

"Wow." Haley put the straw back, and leaned forward. "I had no idea you felt so strongly about it." I shrugged.

"Most don’t, and you asked."

"Hey, hey, don’t get all defensive with me, Andi. I was just curious. I imagine you have very solid reasons behind your views, and are certainly entitled to those."

I looked away, feeling bad, as I know that Haley was friends with most of those that I had just had my rampage about. It wasn’t right for me to go off like that, but I didn’t know what to do about it without making myself look even more like an idiot, so I said nothing. I grabbed my cup, taking a long, slow sip of the cold Dr. Pepper as I thought of what to do or say next.

"So, what about you? What is it like to be on your side of the proverbial tracks?"

"Well, it’s filled with it’s own kind of pressures." She looked at me, "believe it or not."

I smiled, before wiping my face of any expression.

"I have a lot of friends, but I’ve had to work for those, Andi. You and I have different personalities; I love to talk to people, and I’m very open about it. I’ll walk up to anyone and just start chatting. People are people, I just enjoy them for who they are. You know?" I nodded. "I get involved, and that will usually set you up for certain types of friends, unfortunately." I imagine it also helps to be one of the most gorgeous people to walk the earth.

"So, you didn’t like set out at birth to be miss known, and miss popularity?" she shook her head, nose scrunched up.

"God, no. I don’t really care about all that. Hell, Kelly and I have been friends since kindergarten, so we have a lot of history. We just sort of went through everything together. Everything else just kind of gravitated together, all my friends."

I looked at her, surprised by how down to earth she was, how grounded. I had known about Haley Corregan since the day I first started school; she was exceptionally talented, beautiful child from day one. There was not a person under the age of twenty in Winston who didn’t know who she was. I had no idea she was human, and kind. I always had my preconceived notions, most of which are right on, about her crowd, and the way they treated everyone. I had had my own run-ins with a few members of the pop clique.

"Would you like to see how the other side lives?" I was torn from my thoughts, pulled back to the pizza place and stared at her.


"Great answer." She grinned. "I said, would you like to go out with me tomorrow night?"

"Um, where?"

"There’s a party at Brad Martin’s house, his folks are gone again." She rolled her eyes. "One of these days he’s going to get so busted. Anyway, want to go?"

Brad Martin, as in cutest guy in four counties, ex-boyfriend of Haley, biggest asshole in four states.

"Um, sure?" No! I couldn’t believe I’d just said that. I don’t want to, don’t make me! My inner voice was squashed by my politeness and curiosity.

"Really? You’ll go?" I nodded dumbly, internally beating myself senseless. The biggest smile spread across Haley’s face. "Who knows, maybe you’ll see they’re all not so bad."

Famous last words.

* * *

I pulled the black tank over my head, and then pulled up my satin soccer shorts. Running my hand though my hair as I headed downstairs to where my bag and practice mats were. It was late Thursday, but I was wide awake as I thought of tomorrow night. Why did I agree to this? I despised parties of any kind, certainly those hosted illegally by some half-wit who played off his looks to get through life.

I guess what it boiled down to was I had little to no respect for so many of Haley’s friends, and it made me sad, as she was proving herself to be a fine person.

I stood in the center of my mats in the basement, my eyes closed as I readied myself to my workout. I began to breathe deep and even as I cleared my head, bringing my focus and concentration to its fullest and purist point.

Eyes still closed, I began to slowly, smoothly move through the room, heading for the targets I had scattered around the room, using force of mind and body to find them, striking out with feet, legs, hands and arms, flipping to avoid the oncoming attack by my imaginary foe, dodging his punches and kicks with skill borne of eleven years of practice and work.

I felt the satisfying, solid smack of the bag against my wrist as I swung. In real life it would have hit my opponent square in the neck, bringing them to their knees.

"Ha!" I yelled out, as I struck again, rolling out of the way to spring up and hit the pad behind me.

I could feel the energy running through my body like a surge of electricity through the wires to power an entire city.

Breathing heavily, sweat streaming into my eyes, I headed to the wet bar in the corner and the tiny refrigerator, grabbing a bottle of water. Plopping down on one of the bar stools, I allowed my body to relax, the water running through me like a built in air conditioner, cooling me down.

Draining the bottle, I crushed it in my hand and tossed it into the trash as I headed back upstairs, running the back of my hand across my eyes to wipe the sweat out. It was late, nearly midnight, and I was exhausted.

Taking a quick shower, I slid into bed, dead to the world within seconds.

* * *


"Grrrrr," I reached out, smacked my alarm silent. I hated that noise. The sun wasn’t even up yet, so why should I be? I turned over to lie on my stomach and bury my face in my pillow. It was Friday, and that’s always good.

With a groan, I managed to drag my butt out of the warmth that is my bed, clicked off the electric blanket. The cold morning air breezed against my naked skin as I padded over to the window. The grass and roofs had a thin, white glaze over it, obviously from a light snow over night. Halloween was a week away, and yet you’d think Thanksgiving was next Saturday.

With a shiver running down my spine, goosebumps erupted allover my body, I hurried to my bathroom and a hot shower.

Dressing in jeans, a tank - never leave home without it - and a sweater, I was armed to face the day and my English test.

I had been blessed, or cursed, by a very high tolerance for cold. I knew that by the time I got to school I would already be too hot for the sweater, and it would find its new home around my waste until lunch when I started to get cold again for about an hour, then off it would go. Nice to be predictable, I suppose.

I enjoyed my early morning walks, they were invigorating and peaceful. The sun was beginning to show its face above the houses and illuminate the land around me. Flurries were beginning already, and I knew by time I walked home this afternoon there’d be measurable snow on the ground.

I walked up to the building as the bell sounded and I hurried to my locker to grab my books for my first two classes.

* * *

I was not in a good mood as I left my AP English class, the test behind me. I did well, but I really had to work at it. English was in no way, shape or form my strong spot, nor did I pretend it was. I headed to my locker again, dumped off my books and grabbed my lunch. Today we’d have a good old fashion turkey and Swiss sandwich and an orange.

Finding locker 218, I slid down to the floor, brown lunch bag to one side, my novel to the other. As I got settled, bringing my sweater over my head and stretching my arms though, I watched the others, calling out to each other, waiting in line for a hot lunch, or the guys throwing food at each other. My eyes automatically scanned toward the middle of the lunch room to the rowdiest table of them all. There she was, leaning over as she tried to listen to something Kelly told her. Haley sat back, laughing as she dug her fork into her lunch. For just a moment I wondered what had been said, and what it felt like to have that kind of camaraderie.

But just for a moment.

I took the sandwich from it’s clear plastic baggie, and began to eat as I read, chewing slowly as I became further and further involved in the story and its characters.

"Hey." My head shot up, eyes wide.

"You know, I think you have this weird sort of sick desire to sheer off as many years of my life as you can." Haley grinned.

"Sorry. Maybe if you didn’t get so involved in," she lifted the book in my hand to see the title, "‘Bag of Bones,’ you’d hear me." I glared, put my book aside. "I didn’t know you were into Stephen King."

"I’m guessing there’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t know about me."

"This is true. Well, one less mystery, I suppose." She smiled at me as she knelt down. "Well, I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be picking you up at seven-thirty tonight. Cool?" I nodded. Just when I’d hoped she had forgotten.

"Okay. I’ll be ready."

"You sure about that?" She wiggled her eyebrows. "It is going to the dark side, you know."

"Yeah, yeah. I’m sure it will be a hoot." Her face sobered.

"Andi, if you don’t want to go,"

"No, Haley, really." I put a smile on my face. "I’m looking forward to it."

"Really?" She brightened again. I nodded.

"Yeah, completely."

"Great. I’ll see you then, okay?" She stood, "Oh, I won’t be able to give you a ride home tonight. I have to leave early for the dentist."

"Hey, no problem." I smiled reassuringly. "I’d rather walk in the snow than go to one of those evil creatures, so I’d say I still have the long end of this stick." She grinned and walked away.

* * *

The leaves had begun to change on the trees at the end of September, so now the trees were nearly bare as the snow fell, gentle, large flakes of white to cover the ground and houses. Already there was a good four inches on the ground, and it didn’t look like it was going to stop soon. Eight to twelve inches were expected by tonight.

"Hi, honey." I was met by a monster hug at the door by my mom.

"Hey," I returned the hug, missing it as she’d been working double shifts for the past week. I had spoken with her once since Monday night. I stomped the snow off my shoes at the front door as my mom took my backpack from me.

"My god, how all you kids aren’t permanently lopsided I’ll never understand." She heaved the bag to the couch, and turned back to me with a smile. My eyes narrowed as I made my way to the kitchen.

"Why does it look like you just ate a monstrously tasty canary?" I opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of sunny delight, popped the top and guzzled half.

"Well, Clive asked me out again." She jumped up to sit on the counter, lightly banging her heels against the cabinet below. I took notice of this before my eyes raised to her face, which was glowing.

"Happy news." She nodded.

"We’ll see how it goes this time. Here," she reached for my drink, which I gave to her. After taking a large sip, she handed it back.

"Has he left Diane yet?" My mother sighed, looking down at her hands. I felt like a shit. "I’m sorry, mom. I didn’t mean to stomp all over your news." I walked over to her and hugged her, giving her a huge smile. "I’m really happy for you. You need to have some fun, and you deserve it. If it’s meant to work out with Clive, it will." She looked up at me, smiling.

"Thanks, honey. I’m just lonely, I guess. He’s a good guy, just can’t quite make up his mind. I’m not looking for another ring, honey. Just someone to do things with, you know?" I nodded.

"Well, then I think it’s great. I know you guys have a ton of fun, and if that’s what you’re after, then I’d say you’re getting it."

"Thanks, babe." She hopped down from the counter and hugged me. "So what’s on your agenda for tonight? Another Playstation marathon?" she smiled. "Chris is over Brian’s again."

"Oh, well, I have a party to go to." Her eyes opened in surprised.

"Really? Where?"

"Well, it’s at a guy from school’s house, and I’m going with Haley."

"The girl who flipped over my brownies,"

"That would be her." She patted my shoulder.

"Well be careful, honey. If you drink, please be smart about it."

"Oh, don’t worry. You know I’m not into all that."

"You weren’t into parties, either. You are a normal kid, Andrea, whether you allow yourself to be or not. I expect that. Just be smart."


Alone in my room, I sat at my computer to check my email. I had three hours to kill before Haley would be here, and I had no idea what to do with myself. What does one wear to a high school party? What’s expected of you? Do you bring anything? The last party I had been to was in Mrs. Smuther’s class in fifth grade. We had had to bring cookies for the entire class on the last day, our graduation from elementary school. Somehow I don’t think bringing a batch of Pillsbury’s would do it.

Reading an email message from my Sabum Nim for an earlier class tomorrow, I played a game of Literati with some unknown person sitting at their computer, probably in Japan or something.

I hated when I felt this way, a million choices of things to keep my occupied, yet nothing appealed. I played the computer game out of boredom, not any real need to get my ass kicked. I felt restless, nervous, full of energy, but wanting nothing more than to curl up in bed and hide. There was no way I could skip out on this; Haley had been so nice, and it just wasn’t right. Plus, it had seemed to me that she was really excited for me to go. Was it all a ruse? Had she invited me only for me to find that I was the party favor? The entertainment for the masses? What better fun than to play Pin the Tail On Andi.

Running my hands nervously through my hair, I sighed. Why, oh why did I agree? Never in my life had I given in to peer pressure. Why now? And for such a stupid thing.

"I’m disappointed in you, Andi." I muttered, ending my game of Literati and turning the computer off.

A workout, yeah, that would be good.

* * *

I stepped out of the shower, steam rolling through the air all around me as I wrapped my body in a towel. I sat on the closed toilet seat, grabbing a comb to attempt to rid my hair of the tangles that inevitably took hold.

It had been wise to work out, the exertion relaxing me and clearing my head. This was not the end of the world, and I was doing it to be nice to a nice person, plain and simple. This was one night out of my life, and though I’d never get the time back, I never had to do it again.

Yeah, maybe you’ll believe all this crap someday.

With a sigh I stood, dried myself off and brushed my teeth. I wanted, for some reason, to look my best. I wanted to make some sort of a statement, though I had no clue what that was. I had decided earlier that I would dress as I normally do, a tank and jeans, though these jeans would actually fit me, unlike the ones I wore to school, which were about a size or two too large for me. I always felt a need to hide myself from the judging eye of my peers, never allowing them to see what I was really made of.

I smoothed my hands down my tank, which was tucked into my button flies. It was green and ribbed, hugging my form well. I looked at my hair, still damp, but falling into place. I wore my blue and green Nikes, and was ready to go. I’d take a jacket with me, but one that could easily tie around my waist.

The clock told me it was seven-twenty six, so Haley would be here any moment. I decided to chat with my mom, who would be leaving at eight, to help further calm me.

"Well, look at you, honey." She smiled when I walked into her bedroom where she was carefully applying make-up at her vanity table. She was such a pretty woman naturally, I never understood the need for that stuff. My skin had never touched it, nor would it.

"Thanks. I decided to go casual." I sat on the end of her bed, looking at her reflection in the mirror.

"Oh, is that what it’s called? I thought what you wore to school was casual."

"Nah, that’s called sloppy."

"Oh. Thanks for the clarification." She smiled at me. I leaned back, holding myself up on my elbows.

"So where are you two lovebirds going?"

She sighed, closing her compact and grabbing a tube of lipstick.

"I think to dinner and then a show, but I’m not sure. He’s being vague."

"Well, maybe then he has something special in mind, eh?" My mom shrugged with a smile.


Downstairs I heard the doorbell.

"Your limo’s here." My mom said, turning on the seat.

"Yeah." I stood, kissing her on the cheek. "You guys have fun and be careful."

"You, too, honey. I love you."

"Love you, too."

Haley stood on the front porch wrapped up in a heavy winter jacket.

"I take it you’re a little cold." I grinned as I opened the door.

"You could say that." She looked me over, seeing the heavy, hooded sweat jacket covering the tank. "Are you going to freeze in that?"

"Nope. I’ll be fine."

"Okay. Ready?"

As I’ll ever be. "Yep."

The Martin house was large, which was not a surprise. Brad’s parents were some of the wealthiest residents of Winston. Cars lined the streets, and loud music could be heard pounding out of every possible crevice. The first two of the three stories were completely lit up as figures moved in front of the windows, people milling about outside, or heading in.

People we passed said hi to Haley, or stopped to chat for a second, all the while looking at me with unasked questions in their eyes. I was actually shocked by how many times I got looked up and down and leered at. That was new.

Finally we made our way into the house, bodies pulsing everywhere, dancing, talking, laughing, drinking.

Here we go.

"Hey, girl! There you are." Haley’s arm was grabbed, and I turned to see it was Kelly. She smiled at her friend, then looked at me, brows drawing in confusion. She looked at Haley, but before she could say anything, Haley chimed in.

"This is Andi Littman. She came with me." Eyes still narrowed and suspicious, Kelly nodded and turned to the group she was talking with. "Come on," Haley said, tugging me with her to join in. I looked around the group, recognizing all the faces who seemed to find mine most interesting. Tommy Gauna smiled at me, his blue eyes twinkling. He’s always seemed nice to me, though as gay as the day is long. He knew more about fashion and dressing than Ivana Trump. Brad Martin stood with his arm around his latest squeeze, Katie Heinz, also with eyes on me, though they seemed to travel a bit further down than Tommy’s did.

"So, are you new here?" I turned to see Heather Michaels standing next to me, a beer in her hand. "I mean, I’ve heard you’re a transfer."

"No. I’ve been around." I shouted, trying to be heard above the newest song, three times louder than the last.

"Wow. I’ve never seen you before." I just smiled. Losing interest, she turned to the crowd, joining in whatever they were laughing about. I looked to Haley, not wanting to hang on to her like a puppy, but it felt better knowing where she was at all times.

"Are you okay?" she asked after awhile, bending down to be heard. I nodded. "I’m sure this is boring as hell, why don’t you go mingle? There’s plenty of people here." She indicated the full house, and more people pouring through the door as it got later. I nodded with a forced smile.

Truth of the matter was I was bored out of my mind! I walked around with the untouched drink that someone had handed me, in my hand. I had no idea what it was, and sure as hell wasn’t about to find out.

Throbbing bodies were everywhere, getting more and more amorous with the larger intake of liquor. My god. Did these things eventually turn into super-sized orgies? I just wanted to find a place where only I was, and not a bunch of sweaty, smelly bodies. I was also tired of getting propositioned by guys I’d never seen before. I was beginning to think wearing these clothes was a mistake. Better to hide it all.

I found my way up the stairs and saw a slew of closed doors on either side of the hall, and figured that just about any one of those would make a great hideaway.

Reaching out, I tried the knob of the first door to find it locked. Okay, one down, seven to go. The next was unlocked, but when I opened it, I was struck dumb. A girl lay completely naked on the bed, the guy trying to quickly tug at his shirt, his pants already halfway down his legs, his intent quite clear, and quite large.

Oh, god.

I quickly closed the door, trying to not bring any attention to me, or disturb the lovers. I didn’t want that guy anywhere near me with that thing. I made my way to the very last door at the end of the hall when it opened and a girl stepped out. She gave me a crooked, sloppy smile as she stumbled past me. I watched to see if she’d even remain standing to the stairs or if she’d collapse into a pile of alcoholic goo. Nope, she made it. Darn.

I walked into the room, clicking the light on to see I was in a bathroom, empty, peopleless, and vomit smell free.

With a sigh, I sat on the toilet, setting my cup of whatever on the counter. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom, but what a great way to hide. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the shower door. This was madness. Why did anyone come to these things on purpose? It was pointless, was absolutely no fun, and was very destructive from what I’d seen done to Brad’s house so far.

I heard the knob rattle, thanking every god I could think of that I locked it. Then the person began to knock.

"Busy," I yelled. The pounding stopped for a minute before I heard someone whine.

"Come on, I gotta go." I chuckled. Why on earth hadn’t I thought to bring a video camera as blackmail? Such a lost opportunity.

"You’ll have to wait. Gotta big one on the way," I yelled again. Let them try to decipher that in their drunk mind.

I finally made my way downstairs, figuring a half an hour was about all I would get away with. I spotted Haley and her entourage and walked over to them.

"There you are. I’ve been looking for you," she said. "Are you okay?" I nodded.

"Yeah, I’m fine. What’s up?"

"Well, my friend Ryan was looking for you."


Haley turned away, and began to scan the crowd. She spotted whoever, and yelled over to him. Within a few moments a tall, good-looking blonde guy was looking at me.

"Hey," he said with a grin. I gave him a small wave. "I saw you earlier, and um, wanted to know if you wanted to dance?"

Oh, boy. I looked at Haley to see her grinning at me like a proud mother. She gave me a thumbs up. Yay, she approves.

"Um, sure." He grinned again, and lead me to a somewhat clear spot of the floor. He began to dance, and I stood there feeling like an inept idiot, and looking much like one, I’m sure, but soon enough I found the beat and joined in. He actually was a cutie, and a nice guy. He told me all about playing on the baseball team for Winston, and how great it felt to win "the big one" last year, and how much he looked forward to training come spring. I also heard all about how he had just bought himself his dream car, a 1983 Camaro and how he was rebuilding it with his dad, and that I should go for a ride in it sometime. I nodded politely, absolutely no interest in riding in his anything.

"Can I have your number?"

"Sure." What!? Shit. I had only been half listening to him. Now I was stuck.

"Great!" He reached into his back pocket to take his wallet out, and brought out a receipt to write on. "Do you have a pen on you?" I looked down at myself.

"Where would I keep it?" He grinned, nodded, holding up a finger to tell me he’d be right back. I stayed where I was, beating myself for not the first time that day. Within a few seconds he was back.

"Okay, what is it?" Instead of attempting to yell over the party, I took the paper and pen from him and wrote it down, grimacing with every number.

"Here you go." He looked at it, then smiled.

"Thanks. I’ll call you soon." I nodded with a smile. Yeah, you do that.

He told me he was leaving, offering to take me home. I quickly got out of that trap, and headed back to Haley. She still stood with her friends, all of them, except her, getting more and more loaded. Heather actually looked sick. When I joined the group, Haley turned to me with a grin.

"So, how did it go?" I shrugged, noncommittal.


"Just okay? He’s really cute, and a really nice guy, and it just went okay?" Shrug. Haley shook her head. "Look, these three here are getting pretty wasted, and I think they should get home. I can either leave you here and pick you up after I drop them off, or take you with me now and get you home and out of your living hell." She smiled, and I looked down, feeling sheepish.

"Um, I’ll go now." I looked up at her, hoping she wasn’t mad. From the understanding look on her face, I knew it was okay. She turned back to the group, and said her goodbyes, disentangling Heather from the guy she was making out with. Wow, she was so gone.

So, Haley, Kelly, Heather and Meghan and I headed outside. I had never been so excited to see Haley’s car in all my life. Now I understood why I had never gone to a party before, and never would again.

Kelly went for the front passenger seat, and Haley said nothing, so I climbed in the back with Heather crammed between me and Meghan. She turned to me, looking into my eyes.

"Hi." She smiled. I was nearly suffocated by the amount of alcohol on her breath. I smiled.


"I like you." Heather grinned, looking like a six-year-old, her long, brown hair in her eyes. She tried to blow it away, but all she succeeded in doing was blowing more obnoxious breath into my face. Coughing quietly, I turned to look out the window at the passing winter wonder land. Haley and Kelly talked quietly in the front, and Meghan had fallen asleep, her face pressed to the window. Heather began to sing, well she tried to, anyway, songs from the night. I felt like I was in a funhouse with no door.

"I’m gonna be sick," my attention was whipped back to the car at those four slurred words. I looked at Heather as her head bobbed with the bumps in the road.

"We’re almost there, hon," Kelly told her friend, reaching back between the front seats to rub her knee.

"I’m gonna be sick, Kel," Heather said again, bringing her hand up to cover her mouth.

"Maybe you should stop, Haley," Kelly said. With a screech of breaks, I opened my door, and helped Heather to the side of the road. She bent over, arms crossed over her stomach, hair hanging all around her. I grabbed it and brought it all back in one hand at the base of her neck as she began to wretch in the snow. I couldn’t look, the sound and smell was bad enough to make my own stomach churn.

Tears began to flow down her cheeks as she stood again, leaning against me.

"Are you okay?" I asked quietly. She nodded. "Want to get back into the car?" Again she nodded. I helped her in, buckling her seatbelt before I got myself in. I saw Haley through the rearview mirror, looking at me. As I looked back, she smiled. So did I.

* * *

"So, how do you feel?" Haley asked as I got settled in the front seat, thrilled to be with only one person instead of a hundred.

"Oh, I’m okay. Glad to be heading home." I smiled at her, and she looked at me for a second before turning back to the road as we pulled away from Kelly’s house.

"Yeah, I bet. I’m really sorry to have dragged you there tonight."

"Nah," I waved off her apology. "It was a learning experience."

"I bet." She smiled, taking a right turn onto Cleft Road that would lead to my neighborhood. "Also, thanks for helping out with Heather. I really appreciate that, and if she knew her own name right now, I’m sure she would, too." I chuckled.

"It’s okay. She just had a little too much fun."

"Yeah, she always has a little too much fun. I really worry about her sometimes." She was quite for a moment, the radio a quite distraction in the background. The streets were nearly empty as two a.m. approached. "So what did you think of Ryan?"

"He’s nice. Cute. Likes his car and baseball." She smiled, nodding.

"That he does." She paused. "So, if this isn’t your thing, what is? What do you do other than study and doodle lopsided houses?" I grinned, embarrassed.

"Well, not a whole lot. I’m a pretty self-entertaining kind of person, you know?"

"Sure, but there’s got to be something you do that I understand." She glanced at me.

"Hmm, well, I enjoy Playstation." Laughter filled the car as she looked at me just before pulling into my driveway.

‘Well, I don’t think I would have pegged you for a video game fanatic, but I guess it’s possible."

"Hey, when you have a younger brother who gets cooler stuff than you do, you’re bound to start taking it over, you know?" She nodded, turning to me.

"Listen, I’m sorry you didn’t have fun. Maybe we’ll have to try something more along the lines of what you enjoy next time." I smiled, nodding.

"Okay." I figured there wouldn’t be a next time, so I didn’t worry. I’m sure after tonight Haley thought I was even more of a geek than she did before.

"Sleep well, Andi."

"Thanks, you too."

"Oh, I plan to hit the pillow and die."

"Please don’t. You’ll get me out of the tutoring business." She grinned, and pushed me on the shoulder.

"Get out of here." I smiled, and opened the door.

"Drive safe."

"Will do. Bye, Andi."


I closed the car door, and hurried to the house, so unbelievably excited to be home. I craved a shower to get the stench of party of me. With one last look over my shoulder, I saw Haley’s tail lights as she headed down the road.


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