I can hear the whispers. Whispers so loud they could be shouts. I lean against the wall, a drink in hand, and listen to the secrets not meant to reach my ears. My friends are off playing games. These parties blurred together over the past months, but we keep coming. To not go would be to give in to the madness, and none of us wanted to admit to our own insanity. It was so much easier to accept ourselves when we were drunk or high.
I bring a cigarette up to my mouth, wondering when I had lit it in the first place. Smoke swirls around, billowing as it hits my dress. My eyes scan the room, searching for someone, anyone, to distract me from what my life had become.
“Look who it is.” A nameless face blocks my view. Despite the fact he seems to know exactly who I am, I haven’t the slightest idea where we’ve met before. I’m too focused on how the room has begun to spin to figure it out.
“It’s me,” Is all I say.
“Didn’t expect you to be here.” He leans in, his arm resting on the wall above my head.
“I’m not as innocent as I look,” I snarl. Sure, I may have a perfect GPA and a full ride to Julliard for ballet, but I was nothing close to straight laced.
I take a swig out of my cup. Alcohol dances like fire as it slides down my throat.
“You need a ride home?” This time, concern laces this mystery voice. I cock my head, unused to hearing such a tone. Suddenly, I recall his name: Sawyer. We have class together. We have been some sort of friends since freshman year. He has dangerously blue eyes.
“No,” I grit my teeth, annoyed at his presence. Familiar faces at parties are not welcomed. The purpose was an escape from life, not a remembrance.
I push past Sawyer, noticing a more appealing target across the room. A leather jacket is slung across his shoulders, a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He blows a smoke ring and a kiss in my direction. Our eyes connect, green with gray, and I am no longer standing still. My feet step forward, as if controlled by someone other than myself. They keep moving, my puppet stringed feet, until they are cut. I am halted by a hand on my shoulder.
“He’s no good for you,” Sawyer warns. I roll my eyes, yanking my arm from his grasp.
“Don’t tell me what’s good for me,” I snap.
“Let me take you home,” Sawyer fumbles, shoving his hands in his pockets. His feet scoff against the floor. He looks down at me, his cheeks tinted pink as he awaits my answer.
I cover my mouth, stifling laughter.
“Go find some other girl to romance.” I shove his chest with my palms. He stumbles backward, teetering on the edge of his heels. His mouth drops open, staring at me in surprise.
“I wasn’t trying to romance you,” I can see the steam escaping his ears. I can hear his heart quivering.
“Sure, sure.” I send him a wink and my best flirtatious smile.
“Let me save you the trouble,” I continue. “I don’t do nice guys.”
“Why?” Sawyer questions. A look of bewilderment flashes on his face.
“I prefer assholes… jerks…. players….” I shrug. My gaze drifts to the left, where my priority interest stands. His cigarette is gone, replaced with a beer.
“No one thinks that way,” Sawyer counters. His hands are now out of his pockets, gesturing wildly. He moves to block my view. It’s a subtle motion, but I notice.
“If I hook up with a bad boy, it’s no surprise when he screws everything up. Then, I can move on to the next guy with no problem,” I twirl a strand of hair as I explain.
“But,” I continue, wagging my finger. “If I date a nice guy, I fall in love.”
“Doesn’t sound so bad to me,” Sawyer mopes. He runs a hand through his sandy hair.
“On the contraire,” My palms are shaking. “Now I have false hope. Now, when I get screwed over, I’m shocked. Now, I have heartbreak on my hands.”
“You’re cynical.” Sawyer shakes his head. I laugh, passing him my now empty cup.
“Cynical or safe?” I question, walking across the room and leaving Sawyer in the dust.
The shadow has been watching me this whole time. He jerks his head, acknowledging that I am there for him. Hair dark as night falls into his eyes. They never leave mine, as if we are both entranced. As I near, a smirk creeps onto his face. He offers up a beer. I drink, although I despise the taste.
“What’s your name?” I ask, but don’t bother paying attention to his answer. My mind is already wandering, my arm already pulling him upstairs. Seconds flash. My clothes become piled, my body pushed down, my eyes shut. Everything blurs together, as it often does on these nights.
The next morning, I awake, unaware how I made it to my own bed. My phone buzzes, overwhelmed with messages from Sawyer. I sigh, throwing it at the wall. My head pounds. A single tear escapes my eye. I catch it in my fingertips, feeling its warmth. The whispers echo in my ears again. Empty, empty, empty. I have hidden myself away too well. In the state of hardening my heart, I have left it more vulnerable than ever before.