I wake up late on Friday morning and miss the bus, so I get into school late. A great way to start the day, I think. I’m glad it’s almost the weekend, and that I have Lucy’s party to look forward to.
Lucy’s parties used to be very risqué. They were legendary events. She hasn’t had one of those in a long time, but I think she prefers it that way. She was never really happy as a party girl. She just didn’t know what else to do. We were so bored, so completely fed up.
There’s one party I’ll always remember, and it was because it was the first of her parties I ever went to, the first time I was exposed to anything not-so-innocent. I was barely fifteen, and I hadn’t ever even touched alcohol before. I was this incredibly naïve child at this sophisticated party where everyone seemed so grown-up and worldly even though they were only a year older than me. They were so laid-back and cool and I wanted to fit in with them.
Besides, they were Lucy’s friends.
The music was loud and some of them were dancing half-heartedly to it and rest were draped across armchairs or sprawled out on the floor. There was a joint being passed around, and I took a drag. The guy next to me started talking to me about something stupid, and I found it incredibly amusing, even though it wasn’t that funny.
Lucy came over to us and slid in between us. “I hope you’re being nice to Emily, Declan,” she said to the boy.
“I’m always nice,” he said.
She smiled at him and then slipped an arm around my waist. The intimacy of that action surprised me, and my face was hot. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was uncomfortable with it, uneasy with what could be interpreted as a friendly gesture but which meant so much more to me, because it was her.
“Is this true?” she asked me with a grin. I blushed even more.
“Yeah,” I muttered, staring at the ground.
“Emily? Are you okay?” she asked, tilting my chin up with her right hand.
I looked at her and she was beautiful and I was starting to feel nauseous and I just wanted to get out of there. I jumped up and left the room. There was a couple in the hallway, so I darted into the kitchen, which was thankfully deserted.
Lucy followed me in a few moments later. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I muttered.
She tilted my chin up again and said, “I think you’re lying.”
“I’m not,” I said.
“Is it the weed?”
She seemed satisfied with this. “Come back in. We’re going to play Spin the Bottle.”
I’d played once before at a party someone in my class had had, only then the rule had been that girls couldn’t kiss girls, boys couldn’t kiss boys. This game – this was a free-for-all.
And I liked it. Declan had to kiss some guy named Sean, then Lucy. Lucy spun. I watched it go, round and round, please land on me, please, please . . .
“Emily,” she said. She walked over to where I was sitting and knelt down beside me. I was actually shaking with nervousness, thinking, “Right, I haven’t kissed anyone since last summer and I’m pretty sure I forget how to do it and oh god what if I’m terrible and Lucy’s disgusted and never even wants to speak to me again?”
And then she kissed me. It wasn’t like the movies and it wasn’t like my dreams, but it was nice and soft and I wanted it to go on forever, and I was disappointed when she pulled away and returned to where she’d been sitting as if nothing had happened, as if it hadn’t mattered.
I was still at that age where you believe that a kiss means something.
© Claire Hennessy 2004