When Sophie had left, Cerice came out from her hiding place. I smiled weakly at her and then returned to the other students to talk about the party, and art of course.
So it was true, they were going out. Not just good friends. It hurt again all over, just like it had hurt when I first saw them together. I had no claim to her, but my heart was somehow invisibly linked to her. And that invisible link, although it had given me joy, was now hurting me too.
The week had gone too fast, and now it was friday evening. I stared at myself in the mirror unable to decide whether I looked alright or not. The dress I'd picked out was cream with what looked like black paint sprays from one side. I twirled. I had to admit, I looked alright. Thank goodness for fashion frantic gay friends. To the party then.
When I arrived Cerice and Sam hadn't appeared. Sophie caught me as I entered the hall and started introducing me to other people, mainly her friends from the council. I was pleasant and listened to everything they said, but my mind was else were. The Sophie exclaimed,
"Ah here they are!" I turned, a glass of champagne in my hand and saw Cerice coming in, Sam with her. Cerice looked beautiful; her face was still fresh and makeup free but she had donned a black dress which clung to her and made me feel warm. She was incredible, and I bet she had forced herself in to that dress grudgingly because she didn't strike me as the dress wearing type. But she looked good. She looked so good. I realised that everyone had started talking again, so I turned back to the conversation and pretended to be interested again. Sophie had gone to fetch Sam and Cerice, and I deliberated whether or not to leave the group before they got here. But it was too late, and Sophie had already dragged them over.
"Everyone, this is Sam, and his girlfriend Cerice." I dared to glance over at the pair. Sam was grinning, but Cerice was only smiling, as though she were uncomfortable. Sam began to speak.
"It's nice to see you all." Then he turned to me. "Nice to see you again Sasha. You look good, doesn't she Cerice." I could have hit him, but kept my face composed. Cerice looked at me, her gaze lingering before she turned back to him and agreed. I felt my heart falling slowly, being dragged down with the pain of all this formality when what I really wished to do was grab Cerice and run to my cliff to watch the sunset.
"Thank you Sam, Cerice. You both look good."
"Aren't they the perfect couple?" Sophie was in raptures over the pair. I smiled as best I could and nodded, then excused myself and left the group. To be anywhere, anywhere but here. I think what hurt me most is that Cerice and Sam did look the perfect couple, and that hammered in the fact that she would never want me. I refilled my glass and wandered over to where the other teachers from my school were stood.
"Sasha! How are you?"
"I'm good thanks Poppy. How are the kids?"
"Missing their godmother." I laughed, feeling slightly relieved now I wasn't so close to the 'perfect couple'.
"I'll have to come round and see them. I finished the painting of them at the beach for you, so I'll bring that for you as well."
"Thank you so much. I'm looking forward to your fine work being in my house."
"Poppy, it's not that good."
"Shut up. I've seen your work, it should be in a gallery somewhere." I blushed and pushed her slightly. "Anyway, what can you tell us about Sam Winter's girlfriend? She's very pretty isn't she?"
"She's a student at my art class on a monday, and she goes to the university."
"Is she any good at art?"
"She's incredible." I said softly.
"I just wondered how you knew each other."
"How did you know we knew each other?"
"Because she's coming to see you now." My heart stopped. I had to get out of here.
"Can you hold this? I need to visit the ladies room." She looked surprised but took my drink and I headed out as fast as I could. When I reached the corridor instead of going to the ladies I went outside for some fresh air. The cool breeze hit me, a contrast to my burning cheeks. God how I wished this wasn't happening.
"Sasha?" I turned and saw Cerice standing in the doorway. "What are you doing out here?"
"I-I-I needed some air." This was affecting me more than usual, and for once I didn't feel calm. And I knew I didn't look it.
"Are you ok?" I turned away to hide my face.
"Cerice please. Go back inside to your boyfriend and enjoy the party."