I managed to keep my head down for the rest of Fresher’s week, avoiding wild, drunken nights out and even wilder house parties. That sort of stuff just wasn’t me. Luckily it wasn’t really Aislinn’s scene either so we spent quite a few evenings in together, getting to know each other a lot better.
I asked Lily if Owen could come with me to the party on Saturday too and she said the more the merrier. When I told him that he was invited too he seemed to suddenly perk up. I didn’t understand why he wanted to go to the party so much but I wasn’t about to ruin his happiness by probing.
Saturday eventually arrived and I found myself standing in front of my tiny wardrobe, wondering what to wear. I’d never been to a proper party before so what on earth was I supposed to choose? I picked up my phone and texted the person who always helped me with stuff like this. Three minutes later, my phone rang.
“Alex?” I said as I pressed the answer button.
“Hey Nessie, what’s the big emergency? You haven’t got into trouble already have you?”
“No, I’m fine, I just need you’re advice.”
“I’ve been invited to this party tonight and I’m standing looking helplessly at my wardrobe. What do I wear? Please tell me you know the answer.”
“Well, what sort of party is it? Formal or casual?”
“I don’t know. Casual I guess.”
“OK then, so I would go either shirt or jeans, but not those baggy ones I tried to get you to throw out three months ago that I know you’ve got hidden from me somewhere.” I could almost hear Alex rolling her eyes at the other end of the phone as she gave me her advice.
“OK then, I’ll go with the skirt. Short or long?”
“Geez, Nessie, I thought I’d taught you enough by now to know that long skirts are reserved strictly for funerals,” Alex laughed down the phone.
“Then what do I put with it?”
“A top is generally what accompanies a skirt.”
“Oh ha ha. This isn’t the time to be making jokes, I need to get ready.”
“You’re sounding far too stressed about this, Nessie,” Alex said, her voice becoming concerned. “Oh, is there someone you’re trying to impress?”
“No, not at all,” I protested.
“Which naturally means yes. So go on, tell me about him. I didn’t think that you’d get over Luke so quickly.”
“There isn’t anything to tell you because there isn’t anyone in the picture. You know how I feel about Luke, I could never get over him that quickly, whatever he’s done while we’ve been broken up.” I felt my voice crack with emotion and immediately knew that there was nothing I could do to hide it from Alex.
“Oh, sweetie,” she crooned down the phone. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. I didn’t realise you still had such strong feelings.”
“He was my best friend, the only think I’ve ever really wanted. It’s going to take time to get over him, that’s all.”
“I can go round and beat him up if you like,” Alex said, her voice completely serious. “I told you I wouldn’t forget the time you gave Logan what for, now it’s my turn to do the same for you.”
Logan was Alex’s on and off boyfriend who had cheated on her with another friend of ours, Ellie, now sadly dead. Of course I’d been furious when I’d found out and hurled both abuse and blows in his direction. It was all sorted out in the end and Alex and Logan got back together but I knew Alex hadn’t forgotten the way I’d reacted to the news.
“Please don’t say anything to Luke,” I pleaded down the phone. “If he knows I’m thinking about him again then it’ll just make me seem even more pathetic than I already am.”
“You’re not pathetic, Nessie.”
“I definitely feel it.” I turned around as the door to my room opened and Aislinn walked in, giving me a small wave as she noticed I was on the phone, putting her books and bag down on her small desk before consulting her wardrobe too.
“Just remember that you are a strong, beautiful woman who should get out there and find herself a new man.”
“I thought part of being a strong woman was not needing a man to make me feel complete.”
“You don’t need one,” Alex said thoughtfully, “but it means making Luke jealous is a lot easier.”
“I don’t want to make him jealous, I just want us to go back to the way things were, before he asked me out, when things were simple and uncomplicated.”
“Trust me, Ness, you’re never going to get that back, so you might as well put Luke out of your head and find a gorgeous man to replace him.”
“Well thanks for the advice, Alex,” I said, laughing as Aislinn pulled a questioning face at me. “I’ve got to get ready now so I’ll call you again later.”
“Yes, you must,” she insisted. “And remember, don’t wear the baggy jeans. Dress to kill, Nessie.”
“I won’t take you literally on that one,” I joked. “Speak to you later.” I hung up and threw my phone onto my duvet, feeling none the wiser about what to pick from my limited wardrobe.
“Who was that?” Aislinn asked.
“My best friend, Alex. I called her for some fashion advice but she was surprisingly unhelpful.”
“You don’t need fashion tips, you look great anyway.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I replied skeptically.
“And it’s not like you’re trying to impress someone.” Aislinn turned as she heard me laugh. “What?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “That’s exactly what Alex said.”
“And are you trying to impress someone?”
“Not in the way that you’re thinking,” I confessed. “I just know that there will be cameras there and pictures of me will get online and I don’t want Luke to find them and think I’m doing badly.” I knew I was obsessing over Luke but I didn’t care. No matter what I did I would always want to be perfect in his eyes.
“Then I will have to dress you up so you look a million dollars,” Aislinn said, taking my hands and pulling me up from my bed. “Now let’s see what you’ve got to wear.”