I see myself in a world in the past.
It's a birthday party for my best friend at another friend's house. He has a pool. We all swim in it, except for me. I didn't bring my swimsuit, and I just got out of surgery. I can't swim in bacteria-infested pool water. You would think that I would be home resting after heart surgery, but I feel fine. I want to go to my friend's house. Besides, I had been hospitalized for weeks. I want to be somewhere.
There's music blasting out of an old radio. Some of it's good. Some of it's crappy new age stuff. Some of the new age stuff is danceable to. But I don't dance, because I'd be the only one with goofy moves.
Later, a couple of my friends go into a sort of laundry room type building and come out minutes later with a cupful of kool-aid. The birthday girl fills little red dixie cups and passes them out to people in the pool. They all pass around the cups, some cringing.
I can't believe my eyes. I want to go home. They're not twenty-one yet, not a one of them. I see one of my classmates sipping from the cup. I'm sure he'll get expelled.
I can't stand it and decide to go inside. The AC is broken but it's survivable in the living room, where a ton of fans are blowing air around. I sit and wait. The dogs who live here visit me every so often. I think they can feel my anguish. I lay down and go to sleep. Nobody bothers me, except for the dogs who come and sniff. I wonder if they think I'm dead.
I wake up later. I don't know how long I was sleeping or what time it is. Bleary-eyed, groggy, and a bit delirious, I walk to the backdoor. Someone comlplains that there's red liquid on the floor.
"Maybe I peed there," I said.
"Then it would be yellow."
"Maybe it's my red pee."
They stare at me as if I'm growing tails out of my eyes. "Okay, first of all, that's just gross, secondly..." I don't remember what was said after that. I turn around. Another one of my best friends came in, toting people I don't know but they are friends.
"Hi, honey, how was work?" I said.
More antics around the pool. I don't feel like participating. I hang out in the living room. A friend comes in and turns the TV on. We watch Family Guy. There was a part when Peter denies the handicapped access to his food and he ends up handicapped himself "for forty-five minutes" and apologizes. If you think about it, he's already handicapped because he's retarded, I think to myself.
Later, more friends and non-friends gather at the door. They want to go walking around the neighborhood, like going to the park. I want to get out of this house and do something fun that doesn't involve water, so I'm like, "I wanna go too!"
But my friends are all standing around, speaking in low voices. I hate that. "Why do you have to speak in small voices? What is so secretive that we can't tell anyone else?" I tell them. I'm so fucking sick of it I want to puke. My best friend pulls me aside. The moment of truth.
"We're going to go out smoking, okay? Guys, just stay here, okay?"
NO, NOT OKAY, I want to say, but I just fold my arms, look away and sigh, obviously unhappy. It's dark in this room. The only light comes from the TV. I see it casting dark shadows on his face. He's pleading me. Why can't I say no to him?
"Fine," I tell him, but I really want to say, "No, don't go! Please! Stay with me! Watch movies with me! Forget about getting high!" I consider getting on my knees while pleading. But I just watch them all walk away down the street, anguished. Tears form in my eyes and I wonder when we suddenly became part of the norm.
Didn't we pride ourselves on being different from other people? Isn't that why we listened to oldies instead of that Miley Cyrus bullshit? Isn't that why we dressed like we just didn't give a flying fuck? I watch them walk away and become the people they never wanted to be. I go inside and watch I Love You, Beth Cooper.
It kind of reflects my feelings at the time. They're not who I thought they were. I thought they were unique--one of a kind people who were like diamonds in a haystack. I didn't want haystalk people for friends. I want the needles that are hard to find. I'm in the room with those people--three others out of the twelve or so that used to be here. A few others left before they went out smoking, so only five or so are those people that I wish I could keep with me.
After a few minutes, the door opens and in walks those who walked out on us. They avoid us. I go to the kitchen to see the birthday girl picking at the remains of the birthday cake. She looks like hell.
"What's wrong?" I ask.
She doesn't answer. I wait. She pushes past me and goes to the backyard, where all the others on the walk have gathered.
I go back to the living room and I want to cry. Is she so messed up that she doesn't recognise me? Above me, the fan light flickers. It's positioned in such a way that the light hits the fan and flickers like a nightmare light setting. I tell my friend so. He agrees that it does look a little creepy.
Later, the birthday girl comes in and sits on a chair behind one of the couches. The look on her face is unreadable, but she still looks like she was dragged by the hair through hell and back. Soon, my mother calls me and says that its time to go home, and she's outside in the driveway. Before I go, I give everyone I know a hug because I know I won't be seeing them for a long time--they're all going to college, and I'm staying behind in high school.
The birthday girl won't let go. She's crying. "I'm sorry guys..." she says, but I don't know why. I want to cry but if my mother saw the tears in my eyes, she would ask why and I would tell and nobody would ever be my friend ever again.
Only days later did she call me and tell me she was sorry because she felt like she had abandoned us on her birthday. Instead of saying "Oh, it's okay..." I said, "I accept your apology," because it wasn't okay. She and my other friends had abandoned us and just about broken my heart. Which is shit because I just got it fixed. Now I have to go in again.