I hate to just start this off and tell you my name, but I don't know how else to do it. It's Annalise. You're about to experience what it's like to be at a frat house when you're fourteen. I apologize in advance for the little warnings I give my younger self, but I can't help it. I just want to pick her up and shake her sometimes... anyways, strap on your seat belt.
“Millie, seriously, come on. They’re waiting,” I hiss.
She floats out of the bathroom, tilts her head, and gives me a stare that screams, “Just a second.”
Luke: we’re gonna leave if u guys don’t get out here now
“Hurry up! Luke just texted and said they’re gonna leave unless we go out there,” I say.
Scrambling to type out a reply, I send back, “we’re coming hold on.”
We grab our purses and I basically push Millie out of my bedroom. I tell her to go on ahead of me; I’ll be following close behind. As she walks away, I grab two random piles of clothes and stuff them underneath the covers on my bed. I make little mounds for heads, and grab two pairs of boots and put them at the base of the fake bodies. Good enough. It wouldn’t have saved me anyway, but it eased my nerves.
I turn out my light, and do a maneuver with the handle of my doorknob, you know, twisting it before it actually shuts. I catch up with Millie at the base of my driveway. The nervousness intensifies inside of my stomach and my face feels hot. What if my parents wake up? What if they wake up and call the cops because we aren’t there? Or worse, what if they say Millie and I can’t be friends anymore? My mind is rushing around these questions, and the nervousness is flushing down to my toes as I realize we are about to go to a party with a bunch of college-aged guys. My entire body is steaming hot and I feel like I’m going to hyperventilate. “What were you doing?” she questions me. I look ahead at the idle truck at the end of the long driveway, and say, “Helping us not get caught.”
The pebbles of the driveway crunch under our feet with every step as we near the truck. We can barely see where we are stepping in the cold of the night. I tousle my hair and lick my lips. Millie and I look at each other at the same time and the excitement bubbling in our brains passes between us and multiplies. We reach the truck, and I open the door. The inside lights flicker on and three nineteen year old men stare back at us.
“Wanna beer?” Tate asks me from the front seat.
Millie and I are staring at his blonde crew cut hair, his perfectly shaped face, the blue eyes that make our hearts flutter and subconsciously lean forward in our seats.
He hands me one, and I can’t help but notice the veins popping out of his forearm… which lead up to his biceps, which lead back up to those beautiful blue eyes…
I lift the beer up to my lips and sip. Not bad. I chug it.
“Woah, woah, woah, there. Slow down,” Willie says, tipping my bottle down.
Willie is just as beautiful as Tate, but in a much different way. He is shorter than Willie, but has a thick frame. He looks like a Greek god with his ink black hair, his chocolate brown eyes, his sun kissed tan skin…
I look over to Millie as she sits sipping her beer with her pinky up, her long stick-straight brown hair resting on her chest.
The music dances around in the air. It’s all rap as of right now, and all the guys in the car bob their heads. Luke is driving. He falls short in the looks department… I wonder how he manages to be friends with these guys. He has shaggy brown hair, downturned eyes, a scruffy excuse for a beard—he even looks like he is developing a beer chub. You know, the beginnings of a beer belly. He turns up the music.
Rock star lifestyle might don’t make it—
I look over to Millie and shout, “Cheers!”
We clink beers and take big gulps. The taste is more bearable with each sip. I will persevere. This night will not amount to squat unless I get throw-up, do-something-crazy, buck-wild drunk. I wish I could have told my fourteen-year-old self how many carbs swished around in that beer. Oh, and that I’d be throwing up in my toilet all night, trying to keep the puke sounds to a minimum so mom and dad don’t wake up.
Nerves start pulsing through my body. The thought of my parents creeps up into my head as we near the turnoff for the interstate. I nudge Millie.
“Millie, I’m starting to get really nervous! What if my parents wake up and we aren’t there?”
She grins at me and shrugs her shoulders. She points to her ears to signal she can’t hear everything I am saying. “Just drink,” she yells.
I finish off my beer and shout out for another one. No one can hear me over the music.
Party, party, party, let’s all get wasted—
I slap Luke on the shoulder and he turns down the music. “What?”
“Do you guys have any vodka?”
Tate and Willie look at each other and laugh.
We arrive at a parking lot.
I didn’t really know what consisted of a “shot” at this point in my life, but I could easily conclude that I had about six of them.
“We’re here,” Tate says as he thumps his tall, bulky body down from the passenger seat of the truck.
“This is it?” I ask.
Luke stares at me and a grin pops up on his face. It kind of scares me.
“We’ve got about four blocks to walk. We didn’t want to park closer, because people get suspicious around this university. Low key,” he pauses, “is the key.”
We start walking in the black of the night, the foggy yellow beam of light shining down from the occasional light post. It was desolate around us. The street was lined with gas stations, old buildings, business I’d never seen before. I didn’t see a soul.
“Is this safe?” I ask, glancing over at Millie.
“Calm down, we’re almost there,” Luke says.
We stumble up the next two blocks. My legs start to shake underneath me and I felt my hands go numb. I think it’s cold out here.
“Hey, Millie. Feel how numb my hands are,” I hold them out to her.
She stares at me with a blank expression, “Annalise, how would I be able to feel that?”
“Oh… duh.” I pull my hands back to me, crossing my arms. Why did I say that? Even worse, why did I think that was possible? Even if for a split second?
We round a corner, and I see people meandering around the street, people mingling on sidewalks, and then I hear it.
It’s quiet loudness, escaping every time the door of the house opens, and dampening every time it shuts. People scattered all over the porch. The porch wrapped around the front of the house, the white poles holding up its roof, a few rocking chairs sitting to the left of the front door. The front door was leaning towards the right of the house, a small set of stairs leading up to it. The house was two stories, right in between two other houses that looked just like it. There was maybe a few feet of yard space between the neighboring houses. I thought the ugly house that would be vacant within two months was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Don’t go down to the basement, Annalise. Whatever you do, don’t go down to the basement. Consider the idea that it’s full of slithering rapists with burnt Cheez-It hair. Please.
Willie gets out a red and white pack of cigarettes and lights one for himself.
“You want one?” he looks at me.
“Sure,” I shrug my shoulders. I don’t know how to smoke a cigarette. Why on earth did I just do that?
He hands one to me and pulls out his lighter. He stares at me as I hold the cigarette in my hand.
I notice his cigarette sitting in his mouth, so I put mine between my teeth. He lights his. I think he sucked in air as he lit it. He holds the lighter up to mine, so I suck in air as the flame flashes in front of my eyes. I pull the cigarette out of my mouth and I start coughing. I am coughing harder than I ever have before, but it doesn’t last for very long.
“Geez, you okay?” Millie asks.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m cool,” I say, the words scratching their way out.
I sneak a peek at Willie and notice him grinning at Tate.
I watch Willie as he smokes his and by the time we reach the steps of the house, I have it down.
I follow the guys up the steps. I hold onto the railing, looking back at Millie as she bubbles with excitement behind me.
As I reach the top of the steps, I look around at the people on the porch. A pack of guys stand in the corner, a few leaning against the railing and a few propped up by the side of the house. They all hold cigarettes between their two fingers, not talking at all. There is one girl on the tip of the porch, looking over the edge. I think she’s puking. This makes me really excited for tonight. I want to be that girl. When I finish examining every person on the porch, and the excitement in my body grows so strong that I just can’t stand it any longer, we walk inside.