When I get back from school, all I want to do is chill. Well really, all I ever want to do is chill but that's besides the point. The point is I would like to return to a place where I feel comfortable enough to succumb to my laziness without having someone disturb me and say, 'get off your royal hiney and get dressed'. Which is exactly what I ended up doing today, much to my disdain. Fast forward exactly ninety minutes ahead and we arrive at the present where I stand with both hands held behind my back, curled into fists, ready to deck the guy in front of me.
It all started when I trudged into my room, ready to collapse onto my inviting bed and treat myself to a long and much deserved nap only to bump straight into my lovely elder sister. By the look on her face, I could then tell that this day was yet to improve. I didn't really get a say in the minutes that had ensued as she forced me off of my butt and into a dress I would much rather die a painful death than wear. All for some boring art gallery party we absolutely must attend. The reason I was getting pulled into this one? Because father asked of it (and by ask, I really mean demand).
Alexis was all business and no fun. I love her to bits, I really do, but there are moments when I have to physically restrain myself from strangling the life out of her, like when she tries to wrestle me into a dress from the back of my 'to-burn' closet. She is, what I like to call, a rich man's poodle. My father has her on a metaphorical leash, and she's more than happy to be his loyal, faithful servant in all matters of our family business.
Even when she isn't working, she's working. At home, at his office, everywhere she goes, she either has a phone stuck to her ear or the PDA in her hand, jotting down to-lists and rearranging schedules. It's extremely fatiguing just to look at her do it. You would think I'd be jealous that dad hadn't adopted me as his second-hand, but boy am I relieved. Until now that is.
"Wait, wait, wait." I uncurled my fist and held up my right hand to pause the human specimen of a talking blonde ferret in front of me. "You're telling me that the artist that painted this," I gesture at the piece of rubbish in front of me, "is not just showing two people fornicating? You mean there's symbolic symbolic gibberish worth yapping on about like you are now? Dude."
Mr. Middle-Aged Ferret (whose name I can't be assed to remember) stared at me, mouth falling wide open at my remark. He took out a kerchief and started to dab it at his shiny forehead that begun to glisten with sweat.
"Ms. Brooks," his voice shook as he spoke, "what the artist of this piece is trying to show is the sinful nature of the act the two lovers are engaging in, in the eyes of God." I blinked at him, not impressed one bit by his explanation. He gulped, a new sheen of sweat coating his face. "You see the red hues of light coming down from the sky here," he continued, turning to point at the painting, "act as a spotlight on the couple, trying to convey the violence of God's wrath that awaits them for doing such a thing."
"Huh," I smirked at him, slightly enjoying watching the discomfort I was giving a man twice my age, "And I thought it was just about two horny people doing it. Sucks that lust is a sin, huh?"
"Okay, that's enough here." A hand looped through mine and dragged me away. I immediately recognized the voice to belong to Alexis who must have been observing the interaction the whole while. "Are you trying to humiliate yourself, and while you're at it, dirty our family name too?" she hissed.
"It's what I do best." I managed to wrestle my hand free from her grip and look her head on, her brown eyes glaring down my green ones. "Why am I at this boring-ass party anyway? I don't get why dad would want me here if he knew I'd be nothing short of an embarrassment."
"It's not a party, Lynette. It's a charity gala. The various works of art here are on sale for that purpose. They're not here for you to amuse yourself with." Having said that, she let out a sigh, her tall frame shrinking down that for the shortest second, she looked nothing like the powerful Alexis Brooks she's always shown herself to be. Sympathy wriggled its way into my small heart and that is what brought me to step forward and reach a hand out to pet her curls with.
"There, there," I spoke awkwardly, and knew I would later regret saying the words that followed, "I'll try and be on my best behavior, okay?" The words tasted disgusting on the tip of my tongue but I had to say this.
Alexis not only faces the stress of being dad's secretarial head of the company, but also has watch me to make sure I never get into too much trouble. She plays the mother role, a role I never asked her to take but one she fully committed herself to a long time back. It took a lot out of her. I was quite a handful after all.
Alexis's ears perked up at my words and she finally looked at me again, smiling a little. "Be good," she instructed, straightening her posture and clapping a hand down on my shoulder briefly before walking away, to our father no doubt. I followed her with my eyes until her curly brown head disappeared among the crowd of rich and snooty people assembled around the several works on display. My family name declared I belonged here to this crowd, and yet, every cell in my body screamed at me to find a way to weasel out of this place. I would have to fight it all for Alexis's sake.
A waiter carrying a tray of glasses filled with red wine passed by me and I quickly managed to grab one for myself. A drink would certainly help, even if it were just wine. I made a mental note to dedicate an extra day to getting myself drunk this month with Steph and Tommy as I took a sip out of my glass, looking around in boredom.
Over the time that had passed, I had managed to spot a few familiar faces that I was quick to place as fellow schoolmates. Going to a preppy school meant being part of a community made of rich blood. That was probably the one reason the school hadn't expelled my troublesome ass yet. It only figured that other kids would be here too. I mused over how they were all making an aim (and a smart one at that) of avoiding contact with me this evening when the last person I'd expected to see slipped into view.
The next thing I felt was the burning of my throat as I simultaneously swallowed and choked on the wine, sending some of it squirting out my nostrils. With an audible and I should add, involuntary high-pitched squeak, I knew I had done it.
People's eyes zoomed in on the source of the peculiar sound, only to see me, shame of the Brooks' family with eyes tearing up and wine dripping out my nose. He saw me too. Ethan Freakin' Marks. He looked really dapper. I don't mean the nerdy dapper. I mean the sexy, take-off-your-shirt-before-I-burst dapper. But that detail wasn't my primary focus. He looked like he was holding in his laughter, just like everyone else.
Without much thought, I dove behind the marble pillar I'd been leaning back against, hands shaking the wine out of the glass glass. What was he doing here? He couldn't be here. He, of all nerds, could not be laughing at me. I could hear whispers of my name being echoed off the walls, and I knew it would soon reach the ears of my sister and dear old man.
Shrinking down to the floor, I set the glass down on the ground and let my face fall into my hands, wiping the wine from my nose away with a flick of my wrist. I didn't care what these people thought of me but it was Alexis I was worried about. I could already hear the click-clack of her heels making her death walk towards me.
While I waited, I decided to spend the remainder of my life contemplating whether or not it would be appropriate to projectile vomit onto the nearest plant.