Escape in You(2)

By: Rachel Schurig

And it shouldn’t be on yours either, I remind myself. There hasn’t been a point in thinking about it in years, and there certainly isn’t one now.

“Alton Woods?” I ask, suddenly realizing the houses outside my window are getting much larger. “Since when do we go to parties in this neighborhood?”

She shrugs again. “I just go where they tell me the booze will be, babe.”

I rub suddenly damp hands across the knees of my jeans, wishing I could dispel the queasiness in my stomach as easily. I’m not off to a very good start tonight, and I can really use a drink. The parties Ellie and I usually attend seem to take place a world away from this enclave of stately homes and circular drives. Most Friday nights find us in a grotty basement or shared house on the other side of town. Who do we know that would throw a party in this neighborhood?

Ellie slows the Honda to a crawl. “Do you see any house numbers?” she asks, squinting. “God, are rich people too good for fucking house numbers?”

“It’s probably an attempt to keep people like us out,” I tell her.

“Well, it’s working. I have no clue which house it is.”

I point out the window at a guy carrying a six pack up a sloping lawn toward a monstrous brick mansion at the end of the street. “When in doubt, follow the guy with the beer.”

“Good point.” She pulls up behind a shiny silver truck and parks. She peers into the rearview mirror as she fluffs her jet black hair, and the street light illuminates the midnight-blue streaks at her temples. Ellie has a thing for crazy color highlights, and she can definitely pull them off.

I turn my attention to the house. Sure enough, the guy with the beer disappears behind its massive wooden front door. The house is situated at the end of a cul-de-sac, providing it with even more space and privacy than the other behemoths on the block. The neighbors probably aren’t even close enough to hear the music or party noise. When I open my door, I can’t hear a thing though from the amount of cars parked in the circle drive and on the street, I’m betting that the party is packed.

“I don’t know about this,” I say as Ellie joins me on the pavement. “This really doesn’t look like our scene.”

“You never know.” She links her arm through mine and pulls me down the street. “Rich kids probably have better liquor. Top shelf, baby.”

That familiar knot tightens in my stomach.

“We’ll bounce if it’s lame.” When I don't respond to her assurances, she tries a different tack. “I thought you wanted a drink? You’ll feel better when you get a beer in you.”

“True.” I allow myself to be mollified. “Just so long as we can leave if it’s lame.”

“Cross my heart. We’ll just steal the good booze and start our own party in the park or something.”

This is one of the reasons I like to hang out with Ellie. She always knows how to make me feel better without patronizing me. She gets me. She’s one of the few people in the world who does.

The noise of the party hits me when Ellie swings open the front door. I never imagined it would be this crowded—people are crammed together everywhere. “Holy shit,” Ellie mutters, hooking her arm more tightly against mine. “This is crazy.”

“Let’s find the kitchen. I’m going to need a beer before I start looking for familiar faces in this mess.”

We can barely make our way down the hallway through the throngs of people who quite obviously have already been hitting the drinks. Someone reaches out and grabs my shoulder. “Where you going in such a hurry, Gorgeous?”

I turn to find a guy dressed in a thin white t-shirt and a backwards cap. He’s clearly wasted and leering at me.

“We’re in need of refreshment,” Ellie tells him, smiling. She’s good at handling drunks and overeager boys. I take a step toward her, wanting to get free of him.

“I’ve got refreshment right here,” he says, grabbing his crotch as he shoots me a nasty grin that makes me want to puke. “Why don’t you stay, and I’ll give you some.”

Ellie’s expression turns stony. “We’ll pass.” She takes my arm and leads me away.