Narrator: Edward Fisher
As I stood between a pinstripe umbrella and Joshua's doorstep, something purple caught the bottom left corner of my sight. I looked down at my side to see what it was.
Leslie's familiar face, beneath a retro wig of straightened purple hair right out of some bizarre disco porn movie, popped up above the bushes with a finger pressed vertically across her lips.
I looked behind me, as she ducked back down, to see three people walking down the sidewalk beneath a pair of umbrellas. I couldn't make out who they were.
As the door opened and Michelle ran out to give me a big, over-enthusiastic hug, despite her low height, I decided that I must be the only sane and normal person invited to the party. I swore it.
When she unclamped herself, I smiled at Joshua as we shook hands.
Taking off my coat, I knew that the nearly empty livingroom, and the basement below, would soon be full of my classmates -- and a few of the alumni.
Should I have brought something other than myself?
For a moment, I wondered if I had forgotten that the plan was to tackle a slew of recent birthdays. But then I remembered the Facebook event description: "A GREAT BIG PARTY BECAUSE WE CAN".
I had to be home by 10:30 PM, and it wasn't even a school night.
I guess that's the price to pay for good parents, I thought to myself.
Michelle, Juliet, Joshua... Kieth, Brent... great, am I the only remotely tolerable person here so far? Well, I suppose Josh ain't so bad.
I reckoned I'd be the token 'person of colour', or at least the token African Canadian. Nevertheless, it was my choice to go to a 'School of the Arts' out in the middle of rural cow poop.
After taking off my coat, I unzipped my sweater.
And as I was beginning to tie it around my waist by the sleeves, Michelle started to chant a chorus of "Take it off, take it off!", soon joined by Juliet.
Brent looked away and covered his eyes. A gesture that said, "I'm not with these people."
Yeah, I mused, you sure aren't !
I sat across from them, as the girls pretended to look unhappy. But they know I'm self-conscious. And I enjoy their wit, not their crassness.
'Emo' they called me. What an inaccurate label. So, I listened to alternative rock music. And? So, I'm not the happiest person on earth. But hasn't Junior earned that label these days? All he needs to do is show them his poetry and dye his hair black!
The thing is, exchanging writing with Michelle is a mutual ordeal, and her writing just plain makes me uncomfortable. Men just shouldn't feel certain things towards other men. End of story. And for Christ's sake, Michelle, you're a Baptist!
Kieth, intimidating and tall, asked me my name in a deep, throaty voice.
"Ed," I said, undaunted.
He turned away from me immediately, uninterested in further conversation. He kept his eyes fixed on the door, like a hunter's on a trap.
"English work done?" I queried, turning to the girls.
Michelle nodded, "Yup."
"Almost," Julie answered, an edge of frustration in her voice.
"Cool," I said, and nodded as I reached into my pocket for my headphones and iPod.
At that moment, though, Michelle unearthed a deck of cards from deep within a pocket of her Snake Eyes jeans. They were like tents, around her ankles. Such a tomboy at times.
A swift shuffle, of a nondescript deck, and she was dealing us, Brent included, into a game of President without anything but silence to indicate the name of the game.
I lowered the volume of my iPod.
"Are threes high or low?" Juliet asked, to confirm the game.
"High. Four of clubs leads."
And Brent, whose expression had been somber, was now grinning smugly.
Juliet indicated an iPod plug-in set of speakers on one side-table as we huddled around a large footstool.
Joshua watched from a distance, muttering something barely discernible about 'everyone' being late.
I brought the bowl of chips, which had been on the stool, with me as I plugged in my music and placed the greasy snack away from the dog-eared cards.
And so it began.