Narrator: Michelle Hanes
"Penny, you okay in there?" She'd been in the bathroom for quite awhile, and usually, for a girl, that meant she found out she's pregnant or a guy just cheated on her.
"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks," Penny replied feebly through the door. She came out, her face slightly wet and her make-up off. Her lips were a lot paler without the lipstick. She rubbed her nose, not making eye contact with me and staring at her feet instead.
"Juliet's having trouble with the damn DVD player. She's trying to fix it," I said to make conversation. I had met her only today, and her interests were unknown to me.
"Oh, that's not good. I'm bad with electronics, so I don't think I'll be any help."
She seemed modest and rather timid. She looked up at me cautiously, as though she was a young school girl at a prep school about to be reprimanded by an austere principal. People always said Eurasians were rather pretty. Definitely unique.
"Neither am I. She's swearing her head off at the moment. Don't think you wanna go in there!" I laughed, attempting to lighten the mood. After all, this was a slumber party, and by nature they were supposed to be giggly and hyper, with a hell of a lot of talk about love. Or the like.
"Oh... If you say so, I guess." Penny sat down on the armchair next to the side table.
I contemplated whether or not to ask the question that floated around in my head. I was almost a stranger to her, and to jump into such sensitive subjects might cause awkwardness throughout the whole night, as well as making no room for friendship later. She striked me as someone who would be a good confidant. Juliet was a bit of a blabbermouth, but she was cheerful and provided the exuberance that I didn't get at home, since we were friends as kindergarteners.
However, at times, I've always felt the need for a friend who would just sit and listen to my ramblings, and take them seriously - without the comical remarks, turning a consequential subject into one of a falsely trivial nature. Penny would be good at that, I thought.
Okay, here goes. "Were you crying in there?"
"Well, a little. I've just had a rough day," She replied somewhat indifferently.
"What happened? Was it at the party, 'cause God knows what kind of misfortunes erupted there..."
I was glad to not have been a major part of those disasters. Penny's face fell a little, confirming my prediction and I wondered what had happened. From my knowledge, she had been quite self-effacing throughout the evening and I couldn't imagine what sort of catastrophes she would have caused.
"CJ and I... He confessed his-- affections for me, and well, I couldn't return them. So... Well, I didn't want to hurt his feelings and all." Invariably sensitive, this girl. I began to think of how ruthless the rest of us were; Hell no, I don't love you back. Fuck you!
Of course, it wasn't said that bluntly, but we never cried about rejecting another or genuinely felt bad about it. It was treated as a triviality that wasn't worth proper consideration. We no longer respected people's feelings. And I had bought in to the superficial and unsympathetic world. This became more clear to me as I reflected the acts of others at the party, and how oblivious the spectators of them were. We could all use a bit of Penny here and there.
I stopped staring blankly into space, occupied by my thoughts. My head quickly swerved to look at her sitting on the armchair. She was tearing, soundlessly and still; her eyes did not come off the lamp sitting on the table. Her tear drops shimmered slightly in the warm light, and her head was turned to the right, not facing me.
I bent down and my dry lips touched her cheek.