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  • Michelle Halliwell

Chapter 8

The three story, red-brick house looks exactly like all the others on this street. Three windows stretch across each floor, one on the left and two on the right. The only special thing about this house is the strange looking greek symbols on it. Low music and high voices waft from open windows, harmonizing with the sweet and sour stench of beer. Audrey, Julia, I, and three guys climb the stairs.


On the third floor, two guys wearing t-shirts with greek symbols stand outside a door. Music blasts from inside. They slap hands with one of the guys.


“Sup bro. That’s six of you, sixty bucks. Plus the price of admission,” the guy holding the funnel says.


Audrey’s guy friend forks over three twenty dollar bills and takes the hose attached to the bottom of the funnel. The frat guy pours a can of Natural Ice into the funnel as Audrey’s guy friend keeps the hose elevated.


“Knock it down bro,” the fray guy says.


Audrey’s guy friend bites down on the funnel hose. Once he raises the funnel higher than the hose, the beer disappears with astonishing alacrity. He clears his throat then steps aside. “Next man up,” he says.


“I don’t, um, want to,” I whisper to Audrey.


“You like, have to. It’s the price of admission,” she replies.


“I’ve never drank alcohol before,” I say, blushing.


“Oh. Well you’re gonna love it,” Julia says.


“Like, hand her the funnel. She never drank before,” Audrey says.


“Betrayed again,” I mumble.


“Whoa. We got a beer virgin,” one of the frat boys muses with an eyebrow-raised grin.


Blushing is a low-grade fever.


“Nothing to it. Just put it in your mouth and relax your throat, ecstasy,” one of the frat boys says.


The fray boys giggle.


“I can’t,” I say.


“Why not?”


“I feel so stupid, but I’m Catholic, so I’m not allowed to drink,” I say.


“I thought being Catholic was like, the perfect excuse to drink,” Audrey says.


“Yeah. Just pretend it’s communion wine,” one of the frat boys says.


“Yeah but no. I can’t. Sorry.”


“Yo. Jesus turned water not into ginger ale, but wine man. Know what I’m saying?” one of the frat boys says.


I shrug, feeling like I’d be less embarrassed naked in public.


“It’s alright. I’ll pay her price of admission,” Audrey’s guy friend says.


“Can he do that?” one of the frat boys asks the other.


“Nope,” the other says.


“It’s okay guys. Just go without me. I’ll call an Uber,” I say.


“Imagine what kind of sausage fest ya’ll are gonna have, if you turn away beautiful women,” another of Audrey’s guy friends says.


“Good point,” the frat guy says and hands him the hose.


“Thanks,” I say as we enter a big room.


Young adults stand around chatting, holding red plastic cups with white rims. Some congregate around open windows where they smoke cigarettes. How will I explain coming back stinking of cigarettes to Mom? Can I buy the exact same outfit that I’m wearing now and donate this one to Goodwill? I shrug.


“Hey. I know this is a stupid question, but, want me to get you a beer?” Audrey’s other guy friend asks.


I shake my head slowly. He shrugs. “That’s what I figured. Won’t ask you again, but if you change your mind, let me know.”


“Okay. What’s your name again? Sorry I forgot it earlier.”


“Chris, and you are Michelle, are you not?”


“I am.”


“So what brings you to a place like this on a day like today, Michelle?”


“I’d tell you but, it’s a sad story, and you probably don’t want to hear it,” I say.


“There’s nothing about you I don’t want to hear,” Chris says.


“Okay well, my boyfriend, I mean ex-boyfriend, slept with my best friend after Winter Formal, because I told him I am saving myself for marriage,” I say.


“Hold up. Don’t say it like it’s your fault, He cheated on you because he’s a jerk, and I think it’s super cool that you got values. Don’t ever feel guilty about that,” Chris says.


“True, but anyways. I, don’t know what to say.”


My eyes runneth over. Chris pulls me into a tight embrace. I surrender to it and let the tears fall until my nose clogs up and I drench his shoulder with my lacrimation.


“I’m sorry,” I say.


“No, no. Don’t say sorry,” he says.


“I’m sure you came out on a Saturday night, to have some little girl cry all over you,” I say.


“It’s all I can do to even get the attention of a pretty lady,” he says.


“Oh yeah right, a guy as handsome as you,” I say, swallowing awkwardly.


“I only wish it were so,” he says.


“Anyways?” I say.


“Let me get another beer, and some tissue,” Chris says.


Chris disappears into the sea of people. On the far end of the room, there’s a ping pong table with plastic cups set up on each end like bowling pins. A girl holds a ping pong ball between her thumb and pointer finger, her hand outstretched. She squints with intense concentration, appears to give up, lowers the ball as if it has suddenly become extremely heavy, raises the ball again. Holding it up to her right eye, closes her left eye like a sniper aiming a pistol. As a high tower swaying back and forth in the wind, she throws the ping pong ball and it soars over the cups. She shouts something that is probably not a real word.


“Sup?” Audrey says, tapping me on the shoulder and spilling beer on her own hand.


“Chris is smoking hot. You should totally date him,” Julia says.


I grin. Audrey laughs.


“You’re so going to drink,” she says.


“No.”


“Yes.”


“Why should I?” I ask.


“Because it’s like, the only way to stand all these drunk people,” she says.


“Yeah dude. Why don’t you like, get crunked with us?” Julia asks.


“Maybe I will, but not yet,” I say.


“When?” Audrey asks.


“Oh no,” Julia says, her eyes suddenly wide.


Police officers storm the room. The music cuts off. Suddenly no one is holding a red plastic cup with a white rim. No one is standing by the window smoking cigarettes. The police force everyone to line up.

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©2019 by Michelle Halliwell