say cheese!

I was still hazed. My eyes were hurting, and my mind was rushing about. I couldn’t be here anymore; I couldn’t be around here at all. It was all too much. I felt so...Embarrassed. I was humiliated. Just...All of the eyes that were on me were all too much to take in. I had to get away, so I fled like a coward.

I suppressed a shaking breath. I wanted to cry again, but I couldn’t walk back to Frank and his sister’s house and cry in their bathroom for another fifteen minutes. Someone had already enticed me out of there, almost convinced that I was sick on the floor. I admitted to that lie, just so that they wouldn’t think that my wet face was a result of my crying so hard. It was pathetic too, I wasn’t even a drinker. At least, I might as well have been, from the state of mind I’m in right now, everything has that same hazy feeling that so many of these people talk about when being giddy and tipsy. This didn’t feel good one bit though.

I glanced around the area, I was far enough, away from the party to just sit by a nearby tree and take in deep breaths. I was too tired to walk, and I couldn’t go back to get my car now. At least I lived twenty minutes away; at least I was still able to get away.

My head was rested on my knees as I contemplated. I was thinking of what just happened a mere twenty some minutes ago.

Even though I arrived alone at the party, I still enjoyed myself, even starting to talk with some people. I had never felt so at ease with any big groups, so it was such a surprise when I found myself having fun. I had to admit, I felt a little guilty that I was going against everything that I had worked hard to live by. I was against the idea of parties, they were simply too wild from me. They were so frightening to watch on television. I hated all of the loud music and the hot bodies and the adolescent hormones—it was not my kind of scene. I liked to have fun, but not like that.

Yet, when I arrived—after receiving a last minute invitation from Frank’s little sister—I saw that it was not at all like those parties from Mean Girls or She’s All That or American Pie. I know that it sounded ridiculous to think that these parties would be exactly the same, but hearing some things that the other kids at school were talking about—raving raves and banging bangers (?) or hazed hazing—I realized and experienced for myself that these parties aren’t as bad as they are portrayed on television. After all too, this was at Frank’s house, so I shouldn’t have expected anything like cars being set on fire or people voluntarily being hurt. No, Frank wouldn’t let anything like that happen, if he valued his social life anyhow.

So I was there, feeling so great, I was honestly having the best time ever. I was by the deck, having an iced tea and talking to some people that went to Fortune Smithson.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing here?”

I was having a conversation with this girl about how fortunate they were that their pep rallies weren’t happening each week when I heard the statement. I shrugged it off, because I wasn’t called off by name, but I was brought back to the angry girl’s attention when she took me by the shoulder and shoved me over. My drink spilled all over my bathingsuit. I tried not to yelp, it was something that my older sister bought from BCBG, she worked hard for the money and had promised to get me something from my dream designer brand. Now the blue suit was being stained with the sugary drink that was just about half done in my grasp.

“Whoa! Calm down now! How rude was that?” The girl next to me said. She was wiping off some of the iced tea that was on her feet now. “What was that for?”

I glanced at the girl. I knew her. She knew me. I shrank in and tried to think of something to do or say before things got out of hand.

The girl beside me seemed confused; she looked at the both of and asked, “Will anyone elaborate?”

Then, my aggressor grabbed me by the arm and muttered at the girl, “Pardon me, I have to talk to her.” She had a tight grip on my wrist, not letting me fight back. How was I able to anyhow? She was taller and stronger than me.

She led us around the side of the house. There was a small group of people. I recognized all of them. There were four of them, and I knew all of them. I had been friends with them after all. That was too long ago though. Now they were just people I knew. They were bad people I knew.

I pushed to the ground. They circled me. The girl that brought me here, Elsa Greene, nodded at them. “See, I told you she’d show up. I heard Frank talking about how she was invited.” She let out a laugh and glanced at me, “Why did you decide to start over now?”


“’Cause she thinks she could make some new friends now that we’ve left her,” Amie Harlow drawled. She stepped closer towards me, as did everyone else. Her eyes seemed filled with hatred as she glared at me.

“Why would I not be able to?” I said to her. It was hard to talk back, they were slowly circling me, so eventually, when I had my point made, Amie was out of my sight.

“Oh whatever,” I heard Elsa exclaim. “Give us a break Annabelle! You can’t just show up here, you knew we were going to be there!”

I sank back even more now, I felt cornered.

“Elsa,” Harry Connaught said. “Try to chill out for a second; we can’t help if she showed up.”

I stared up at Harry, he was giving a smirk. It seemed eerily odd for him to be smirking at me if he was defending me.

Then he said, “We can teach her to not show her stupid face around these parts anymore though.” He laughed before he was out of my sight.

“What do you suppose?” Elsa asked in a snide tone. “How about you Davey, what do you think of Annabanna being here? What do you think of Belle-Belle?”

My heart stopped beating when she used the pet name. I had my eyes on the ground, but I saw when the circle had stopped moving and my eyes were locked on the pair of worn Adidas sneakers before me. My eyes trailed up and then fell on his face. Davis, I thought. No, I felt like saying. My throat clenched as I thought about what happened. My heart hurt when I thought about what happened through his eyes.

“Davis, please!” I exclaimed. I wasn’t sure where I was getting at with this. I wasn’t sure where I was getting at with showing up. I stood up and looked up at him.

“Oh please!” Elsa said. I heard her yelp. Then she said, “What do you think...?”

“Be quiet, she’s talking to him,” I heard Harry growl at her.

She muttered something, but I didn’t bother to comprehend it. I was too focused on who was standing in front of me now. I was focused on Davis, my best friend since...forever. Well, he used to be my best friend, until last year. He was my best friend until everything happened too fast, until I hadn’t had my priorities set straight. He was my best friend until I had the sense knocked into me before it was too late.

“Annabelle,” he said, after a long moment we spent staring each other down. He then said, “So you think it’s alright to have fun again?”

“I can’t live?” I answered. My voice was getting shaky and hoarse.

He ran his hand through his dyed black hair and scoffed. “Look at you,” Davis whispered. He shook his head and said, “You’ve turned into some little good girl, thinking that you’re too good to be around us huh?”

“No,” I shook my head at him, “That’s not it...I just...”

“You what? You just freakin’ lost yourself, right? Or is this you? Some girl that...that never even wants to have fun anymore? Some chick that spends all of her time avoiding us, not talking to that you? Is that you Annabelle?”

I stepped closer to Davis. That was still my reaction, I couldn’t believe, after almost a year of not even being near him...I still wanted to reach out to him when he was disappointed about something. I backed up, and then I whispered, “Davis...”

I couldn’t take much more of it, before he could have said anymore, I ran, I broke from the small crowd and got away.

“Annabelle?” I heard Davis yell after me.

I didn’t bother to go back or turn around. I just kept on running until I got to where I was now, underneath a tree, crying my eyes out.

“Hey, are you, uh...alright?” I heard some girl ask.

I looked up. It was some small brunette. Her giant sunhat blocked the light when she bent over me. She had a worried look on her face and she was chewing the bottom of her red lips with the most anxious look I have ever seen on anyone.

I shook my head, “No...n-no, I’m f-f-fine...” I sniffled a bit, embarrassed by some strange seeing me cry. She was probably headed to the party, since she had on a pair of shorts and a sarong paired with a red two-piece top. She was late if she expected to get to the party now.

“Are you sure? You’re crying, you know that?” Her voice was all squeaky and mousy, and right now the small cheeriness of her voice wasn’t helping.

I decided to just ignore her until she went away, but she didn’t go. She stood there, giving me this wide-eyed stare, like some deer caught in the headlights.

“Could you go away, please?” I told her. I didn’t want to be rude, but the girl was gettin on my nerves. I wanted to be alone, and she should see that. I curled my legs up to my chest and let out a shaky breath. It was humiliating enough to be crying outside, but now with some little cheery optimistic chick in front of me just made it worse. I was jealous of how happy she was. I was jealous that she was smiling. She looked like one of those people that have never been sad or had lived one bad moment in their life.

Her eyebrows knitted together, “Okay, sorry for bothering you.” She stood up and turned on her heel. Then, she stopped and turned back around. She asked, “Uhm...yeah, could I ask you a question?”

I narrowed my eyes at her, “It better not be anything...”

“No! No! Uhm...yeah, it’s just that I got kinda like lost, I’m supposed to be headed to a pool party—I was going to ask you directions before but, then I noticed you crying so...”

“Right across the street, turn the left corner and then turn the right corner on Margrave,” I cut her off, wanting her to get lost already.

She nodded and adjusted her white sunhat. Then, she grimaced, “Mind if you write it down please? Oh wow, I hope I’m not late or anything!”

“No, not at all,” I said, rolling my eyes.

Her face lit up, not getting my sarcasm. “Good!” She then stuck her hand into her giant pink tote bag and pulled out a pen and piece of paper, “Mind if you write in down please?”

I took the small flower shaped sticky note when she handed it over to me. I wrote down the directions—which were just fifteen minutes away—and then I gave it back to her.

She stuffed the paper into her bag again. The girl smoothed her shiny brown hair and played with the side ponytail as she said, “Well, I hope you get better girl! If life has that camera flashed at you and you don’t want it on front of your face, you have to say cheese!” She added, “Thanks for the directions! Toodles!” She waggled her fingers and seemed to skip away, off the grass, and into her Toyota Hybrid.

The End

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