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  • Michelle Halliwell

Chapter 9

“We’re like, totally about to get arrested,” Audrey says.


“Darn it. Then I’m finishing my beer,” Julia says then picks it up from the ground and chugs it.


The police officer sends Chris over to the group of unhappy looking kids. His shoulders slump as he waddles over to line up. He almost glances over at me.


“He like, wasn’t twenty-one after all,” Audrey says.


“Am I going to get in trouble?” I ask.


“Maybe. Don’t tell them you’re a high school student, or they’ll definitely like, take you into custody. Tell them you like, you totally go here. You’re not twenty-one but you don’t drink. Maybe they’ll let you go. I don’t know. It depends,” Julia says.


Awhile later, a police officer frowns down at me, with powdered sugar sprinkled around his stubble of dark whiskers. His stern glare has nothing on my mom’s judgmental scowl, a scowl I expect to see again very soon.


“Let me see some ID.”


“Left it in my dorm,” I say.


“Go over with them,” he says.


“But I haven’t had any alcohol. Not one drop,” I say.


“So what.”


“How can you arrest me for drinking if I haven’t?”


He scratches his chin, moving some of the powdered sugar around. “You better be telling the truth, because if I go through all the trouble of giving you a breathalyzer and it comes up positive, you’re gonna be in a world of hurt,” he says.


“I truly haven’t had anything,” I say.


“Let me smell your breath, kid,” he says.


I breath heavily into his face.


“Get outta here before I change my mind,” he says.


“Thank you so much!” I say and leave immediately.

Standing on the porch and shivering in the cold, I scroll over to my Uber app.


“Hey girl? Can I walk with you?”


The guy speaking isn’t big or small, not old not young, not familiar but not a stranger. His face is as pale as curdled milk.


“Do I know you?” I ask.


“Nope, but I saw you upstairs. I was there, hanging out with my friends, but they all just got arrested, so I’m like, okay, what the heck do I do now?”


“I see. Me too,” I say.


“Well hey, look, I don’t drink alcohol, but I love coffee. What do you say I buy you a cup?” he asks.


“I’d love to, but I don’t know you so sorry,” I say.


“Momma told you not to talk to strangers. I get it. I’m Bill. Nice to meet you,” he says, holding out his hand.


“Nice to meet you too,” I say and I shake his hand.


“There’s a coffee shop two blocks that way. It’s a public place. Best coffee in the city,” he says.


“I really shouldn’t.”


“Alright. I completely understand,” he says, the energy drains from his eyes like a lost puppy’s melancholy gaze, when it realizes it’s not getting adopted. He stumbles down the stairs, poking out his bottom lip, which is unusually red. If he becomes a she, she will never have to spend a dime on lipstick. A gust of wind threatens to turn my bone marrow to ice.


“Wait. A warm coffee shop is probably a better place to wait for an Uber,” I say.


His face lightens with a smile.


“Thought I was getting rejected again,” he says.


“You get rejected a lot?” I ask.


“My last girlfriend cheated on me with my best friend,” he says.


“You’re kidding me,” I say.


He shakes his head then stares at the ground, clenching his fists.


“I just broke up with my boyfriend for the same reason.”


“Wow. What a coincidence,” he says.

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©2019 by Michelle Halliwell