Chapter 10: Sweet & SourMature

Narrator: Kieth Penningway

 

I took a big gulp of punch from my glass, and grabbed the wireless microphone from one of my brother's friends, the girl with the pink hair, who had been trying unsuccessfully to drop it down her boyfriend's pants. She looked up at me, amused, as I turned it on. She probably expected me to deepthroat the dang thing.

I made eye contact with my brother, who instantly knew to dampen Shawn's vocals on the next song, so that I could sing along. However, he was beginning to look nervous, probably because I seemed to be taking command of his party a little too much.

When life gives you lemon, you make lemonade. When it gives you vampires, you make vampirade. When it gives you pirates as well, you make vampirates. But when it gives you a golden opportunity like this: your ex-lover standing in your front hall, his girlfriend at his side and a crowd of people who won't let him leave; you better make some damn good lemonade!

As the intro started, I tapped the mike against my palm, testing. Satisfaction guaranteed. Requital guaranteed.

"I've seen this place before,
It's coming back to me now,"

I began to put a small, resentful edge into my deep voice,
"My past I can't ignore,
It seems to stick with me somehow..."
I sang an unwritten bass, lower than the artist was singing.
"We were so hi-iii-igh!"
"We were so hi-iii-igh!"

I circled Greg, making it all known by my inflections,

"I met you back at school.
I used to call you my best friend.
The drunken fights and broken rules,
Was just a typical weekend."

The song couldn't have been more coincidentally autobiographical. I sang with all the nostalgia of a love that lives on in memory.

"We used to get so
hi-ii-igh!
We used to get so hi-ii-ii-igh!
Now all I can do is think.
I just thi-ink..."

I had been putting all my sadness, all my loneliness, into those last two lines. It felt therapeutic, as I drowned out Shawn's voice when I needed to.

That merciless jock, who'd kicked me so many times, was staring back at me with an angry scowl. But it wouldn't stop, no, too many people were captured by my performance. I'd been a vocal major at that school of the arts.

"We dropped into my car,
I can remember the junction.
I tried to stay awake,
But my body couldn't function."

I made sure to add in sexual undertones, unmistakably singing it straight to him, passionately and angrily.

"Coz we were so
hi-ii-ii-igh!
We were so hi-ii-iii-iigh!
Now all I can do is thiink:
How could I let you go-oh away?
It's not fair that you're not here,
To share the
worst days I've ever had!
It's not fair, it's not fair, we never said goo-ood-by-y-ye.
"

I sang the word worst instead of best, so loud that the real lyric could not be heard at all.

His face was a deep red, his neck was strained tight and, oddly enough, there were tears in his eyes.

"We were so
hi-ii-igh!
So hi-ii-igh!
So hi-ii-ii-igh!
So hi-ii-ii-iigh!"

His girlfriend had back away, moments ago, crying on the stairwell. And as the song took a long, instrumental end, he looked at me with eyes that were angry at himself, and tears that were now able to fall. Slowly, one by one, down crimson cheeks.

I bowed, with the center of the room to myself, one hand bent down gracefully towards him. Then, I looked up, as the room burst into applause.

Eyes that sought forgiveness.

Fwap! The applause stopped, as I realized I had involuntarily slapped Greg across his face, handsome as ever.

The room was utterly and abruptly silent. We could hear the gentle pitter-patter of rain.

And then, with all eyes upon us, Gregory leaned forward with a very, very angry scowl. My heart skipped a beat. I thought, for a moment, that he was going to continue the tradition -- kick the shit out of me right then and there.

I closed my eyes, and my lips contorted in a way that betrayed my regret. Wishing I had let someone else pick the next song. I waited, barely breathing, for the first fist to be thrown.

An arm touched my back.

Was I being pulled away?

It pushed me forward.

I was too afraid to watch. I just braced myself for the pain and the yelling, hoping someone would pull him away from me before it was too late.

The arm was gone.

I let myself breathe, full diaphragm. It annoyed me, how utterly seductive his cologne was. Then came big strong hands on either side of my face... and when I expected my head to be pulled down to collide with his knee, he kissed me on the lips. And all I could do was let him in... eyes closed in utter bliss.

More applause, and then someone, probably Joshua, put on some dance music I didn't recognize.

Greg released me, pulled me away, and then shoved me onto the vacant chesterfield. He leapt onto me, and I felt the blood rush where I never expected it to go this night. He whispered in my ear, "I'm not that same person anymore."

I was enjoying every moment, that he could be sure of. Every sweet drop of lemonade. And yet, in the back of my mind, I knew that somewhere in my house there was a beautiful woman, full of all the hopes of early adulthood, crying upon the shoulder of a friend. Every sour drop of lemonade.

The End

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