Chapter 26: The Voice My Heart Beats ToMature


Narrator: Joshua Penningway


When I go to school on Monday, there will be one too many multiple-times broken hearts. When I go to school Monday, no one would have slept well over the weekend and will have dark circles around their eyes. When I go to school on Monday, I will be seeping in the mandatory math class, yet again, with guilt for having thrown this party.

So before this can do any more damage upon my guests and my self-confidence, well - being or whatever you want to call it; I think it’s best this party ends as soon as possible. And what is it that you learn since kindergarten? You clean up the mess that you made.

I started in the living room with a plastic bag at hand and picked up the chips that had fallen between the cushions and on the floor. My parent’s would kill me if I hadn’t got this place spick and span by the time they got back.

There was punch on the floor, so I cleaned it up with a rag, the white slowly transforming into a dark red. This wasn’t how I imagined things; me having to get on my knees and getting spiked punch off the floor whilst others, so caught up in themselves and the people whose tongues were in their mouth. 

There were half-filled cups everywhere, someone’s hair tie and phone misplaced and missing their owners. I went through the pile of bags and put them neatly into a row, like my mom does with hers.

Amongst them was a tiny little packet, containing a piece of rubber. Durex condoms, probably purchased at 7/11. Someone was obviously in the mood for sex; then again, everyone around here seems to be in the mood for it. I can’t say I quite identify with that feeling – well, it’s not as good as people say it is. 

I lost my virginity to Evelyn Crandell. A short, cute girl with purple Calvin Klein glasses and her hair always in a perfect ponytail; her brown strands always tied up with a matching purple band. She was into De Stijl art and photography. I never cared much for either; I, for one, preferred surrealism and didn’t see the point in taking photos (all anyone ever do with them is post them on facebook anyway).

Despite my indifference, my father was hell bent on taking me to a photography exhibition one Thursday last year, which Evelyn just happened to be at - and that’s when I discovered the overrated pleasure of sex.

This thing called sex should only be used for making babies. Sure, when you’re doing it you get that unavoidable orgasm and those rolling back of the eyes because it feels so fucking amazing – but what about after that? After all of those exchanges of sighs and admiration of the body, so to speak. Complications happen; awkward silences happen; uncertainty happens; teasing from friends happen; and the first time around it hurts like hell for the girls (supposedly). The point is; nothing good ever comes of it.

Greg had sex with Kieth, and that screwed up Crystal’s life. So Crystal (judging by the scratches on Junior’s body) thought she’d have sex with CJ, and now his moral compass isn’t pointing North. Brent had sex with God knows who besides Leslie, so I bet by the end of tonight her and Adam will have a go at each other.

And when they go to school on Monday, the above mentioned will happen. And theirs will last for who knows how long, because none of them, unlike Evelyn, are leaving soon. They—we—are all stuck here. And this goddamn party has sealed our fate.

“For fuck’s sake, what’s that smell?” Startled, I dropped the condom the instant I heard Penny’s voice. I sniffed, cautiously; I didn’t have such positive responses to bad smells and on occasion, vomited, making the smell that much worse.

“I don’t smell anything,” I said, relieved.

“No, really. Come over here.” Penny beckoned me to the kitchen, although I was much more content standing where I was, by the row of bags. I walked over, with my fingers clenching my nose in anticipation.

“I still can’t smell anything.”

“Then get your fingers off your nose, Joshua!”

Penny stared at me impatiently, and I reluctantly breathed in, my nostrils flaring at the smell of something a bit like hell. I gulped and— Penny starting laughing at my burp. Normally, I would laugh at it too, but I was afraid it would trigger the half-digested pizza in my stomach to ride up and out. I put my fingers back up to my nose, holding only the tip so I could get a slight whiff.

“It’s got to be vomit.” Penny looked around the kitchen, trying to look for what was probably a mixture of chips, punch, pizza and cheap cake. I wish I could have helped, but I thought I ought to save her from doubling that stench. She opened the door to the pantry where we kept all our cans, jars and spare disposable cutlery. Wait for it.

“Oh fuck! Uh, Josh… I think I’ve got it.” Those closed nostrils of hers distorted Penny’s voice. I walked over bravely. It was yellow, with a dash of red and green, and I assure you, not pretty at all.

“Dammit. I’ll get some cloth.” The paper towels would have to do, and I got the plastic bag I was using to clean up the living room.

“Must’ve been the spiked punch,” Penny suggested and I nodded in agreement. Screw you, Adam. I leaned down, and didn’t breathe. I got two pieces of paper towel and began to scoop up the used-to-be-edible contents. I frequently turned my head away and caught my breath for a second or two, and went back to face the stink.

“It’s hard being the host. I know. That’s why I held one party, and gave up. Perhaps that’s why my social circle only has the diameter of about two centimeters,” Penny’s voice was somewhat distracting.

“Good thinking,” I slipped in a quick response and held my breath again.

“Vomit, gay sex, infidelity, some more sex. You deserve an award for having to deal with all this shit.” Oh, you have no idea. I didn’t respond; I got the feeling she wasn’t expecting one.

“You art schoolers are a lot worse. Where do people get that kind of… craziness? That impulsiveness? No wonder you’re all drama geniuses,” She paused. “But hey, you seem to have some more common sense than the rest of ‘em.”

I was finishing up with the last bit; the roll of paper towel almost down to its final piece. As I dumped the wet paper towel into the plastic bag, I noticed I was breathing. Yes, that’s all very normal and every human being on this earth does so, but… I was breathing!

I got up and looked at Penny for a while; she didn’t seem to be bothered by my scrutinizing her face and she stared innocently back at me. She wasn’t pretty, but she was a good talker. The best. Better than Barack Obama; his speeches would never have gotten my through all of that. Penny whatever-her-last-name-is did. I think we both deserve an award.

“And I hope you stay that way,” She said as though it had only been a second ago since she talked. Then she walked off, her hair bouncing.

“Oh, and just a tip,” I faced her again and she continued, “As little sex as possible. It keeps life a lot less complicated – trust me.”

Wow, and a great ending too. 

The End

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