Party Girl

A floaty, whimsical little narrative about a girl, a boy, a new friend, and a Fashion Week party. Hope you like it!

I would really love some feedback on this story, as it's the first chapter in a longer story I'm writing!

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1. Party Girl

 

 

 

       It was 1am and she was alone, on her way to a not-yet-open-to-the-public club called Ziki for a Sydney Fashion Week party. This was unlike Camille, mostly because she hated being alone, when in public, when in Sydney, in pretty much every conceivable way except when at home after school. When she slammed the door and shut out the world at 4pm each day, if she couldn’t have three hours of solitude, the world’s edges curled up on her back, and she found it impossible to relax. It was the worst feeling.

      She wore a crumpled, tear-stained, tissue-paper thin dress that she got in London. The dress was too nice for the party, but it worked because she didn’t wash her hair. She was seventeen when she bought it, and it came with a boy, expensive but short, just like the dress. She sat at the bar and let pungent cigarette smoke soak into her hair. The crowd was international, leather-clad, and kind of rude. Camille didn’t understand places like Ziki. Are the people here pretentious, or just French? she wondered. It was the loneliest place she’d been all week, and she didn’t know what to do with herself. She checked her phone, but there was nothing new. This must be Thursday. Camille never could get the hang of Thursdays.

       The British girls who clustered around the adjacent bar stools eyed her suspiciously, scrutinizing everything from her makeup to her shoes, while at the same time earnestly ignoring her. It reminded Camille of being at summer camp when she was little. The girls hated her most at summer camp. Her hair was too long, too blonde, and too demanding of attention. The sun caught it. The counselors touched it. The boys grabbed it. Also, she didn’t own anything from Supre. The girls said she was a bitch. They were probably right, but still, she was seven. (Things were a little different now. Most girls didn’t hate Camille, but her hair was still pretty nice.)

      Finally, a girl slid over to her. “I’m Arabella,” she said in a perfect English accent, sounding like an extra off a Harry Potter set. Camille already knew she was going to like her. It was just one of those things, pre-mapped and permanent, where you could already see that your personalities would overlap and entangle. It’s hard when that happens in all of two seconds, and even harder when your heels are too high.

      She ordered them two glasses of Dom Perignon. Camille was old enough to drink, but still young enough to need a fake ID, not that they ever checked. But it didn’t matter anyway, because the bartender wanted Arabella’s number, so it was free, and the whole thing was rather tempting. The only other time Camille had had Dom was when her roommate’s dad had sent her a bottle for her birthday. They had just moved into their apartment and didn’t have any glasses, but they’d been so excited that they drank the entire bottle out of plastic cups from a two dollar store.

      This was a very different experience, as there were candles, rare Andy Warhol prints, a light installation, and Lindsay Lohan. Arabella and Camille raised a toast (“to the end of the world!” Arabella slurred) and Camille sipped her champagne. She changed her mind about Arabella. Maybe she was so familiar because she looked like the best toy ever. But unlike Barbie, Arabella’s blonde hair was real, Arabella’s nose was real, and Arabella’s boobs were real. In fact, everything about Arabella was real, she learned, except for her Louis Vuitton clutch. She told Camille she should come to London and she responded, “I’d like to but I can’t. I’m still sort of in love with someone there, and I’d crash into him every night.”

      “But London is much bigger than Los Angeles,” she said, and Camille shrugged. Arabella continued, “You just think it’s small because you only hang out in the trendy parts, and I’m sure he does too.” She said the word ‘trendy’ like it meant ‘shit’ and offered her a cigarette.

       They clustered on the floor, weaving through exclamations and air kisses and impromptu nicknames. They traded drinks and camera flashes and phone numbers, and then the one song they knew together started blasting. They giggled like thieves.

      Camille was not particularly drunk, not yet, just the sort of drunk you get when you have a couple of glasses of champagne after not having eaten for two days straight, on account that this was Fashion Week and she’d been trying to squeeze into a skirt she bought that was two sizes too small. (It’s called aspirational shopping. Every girl with ambition does it.)

      The room was spinning, either from magic or too many bubbles. The party was packed; they wanted to leave after ten minutes but it took them two hours to say their goodbyes. Around Camille, the crowd had loosened up and partygoers celebrate their youth with giggles, with screams, with shots. The crowd squeezed tighter and Arabella let loose, jumping about to Deadmau5, her hair flying like streamers. Her face was long and her hands were steady, adult-like qualities Camille wasn’t used to seeing in her friends, even though Arabella was only about five minutes older than her. It was sweet, but strange too.  Sometime during a particularly enthusiastic song, Camille and Arabella got separated.

      A boy walked up to Camille and put his arm around her shoulder- a familiar gesture but she didn't seem to mind. For one thing, that's the sort of environment you put yourself in when you go to a club- all kinds of unnecessary touching suddenly becomes acceptable. Drunken strangers put their hands on your shoulders to steady themselves. People touch your backs as they slither past you to get to their friends, or the bathroom, or the bar. Everyone becomes a little more touchy-feely. But this was only part of the reason she didn't mind being handled.

      Camille happened to like it when boys put their arms around her shoulders. She didn't mind it when she was sober, she kind of liked it when she was tipsy, and she loved it when she was drunk. Maybe he could see something in her eyes... maybe he could sense that she was a girl who wouldn't push his arm away in disgust. Camille was a girl who was secretly of the opinion that guys who were ugly must lead really hard lives; she pitied them and took it upon herself to be as accommodating as humanly possible. Camille agreed to go out with virtually anyone who asked her, simply out of charity. Sometimes she would even make out with them, she felt so sorry for them.

      "How's the most beautiful girl in the world doing tonight?" He slurred in her ear.

      "Not bad," she yelled back.

      "Hey, let's go somewhere where we can talk, okay?"

      Camille didn't want to leave the bar. She wanted to stay right there so everyone in the immediate vicinity could see that this boy had his arm around her and therefore recognize how attractive and desirable she was to men. Her lips couldn't remember how to form the word "no" but her head remembered how to shake, so she shook her head fiercely and immediately regretted it as a wave of nausea came on. She didn't want to throw up on this perfect stranger, or on the bartender's nice clean counter so she began to stumble toward the back of the club where she remembered the bathroom was, clutching onto the stranger's arm for support. And so she did what everyone does at clubs, touching and grabbing her way to the rear. No one minded.

      "I think it's quieter back here!" he yelled into the side of her head. She ignored him and concentrated on nothing but making it into the bathroom stall before throwing up the contents of that day's meal.  Where was Arabella?

      She looked up at him and smiled. She knew her eyes looked bloodshot and squinty but she also knew she looked prettier when she smiled, so she tried to do it often.

      "Now that you've met me, your life has begun." She could hardly recognize her own voice. She thought she might have been quoting a movie, or a book, or something, because it seemed like too random a thing to just say to someone out of the blue, too prophetic, but she couldn't think of where she had heard it before. It had just popped into her head and the words were out of her mouth before she could squeeze another thought into that vodka-clouded brain. His eyes were a beautiful shade of pink. I have a polo shirt that color, she thought distantly.

      His eyes widened in front of her. "I've been having kind of a bad week."

      "How can you say your week was bad? You met me didn't you? You should say this was the best week of your life!" she purred as Rihanna chanted from the speakers.

      All of a sudden, the music was too loud, the club was too hot, and she couldn't breathe. He grabbed her ponytail and at first she thought he was pulling her hair, but he was actually holding her hair back as she regurgitated everything she had eaten that day.

      Camille barfed and barfed until her head felt clear. She flushed the toilet and ran the water in the sink. She splashed water onto her face and rinsed her mouth out, spitting it out down the drain along with little flecks of brown. All of a sudden she felt fearful of the tall hulking stranger standing with her in the bathroom. Why the fuck had he followed her into the bathroom and watched her puke? Was he going to rape her? They were completely alone. Camille felt trapped and cornered. She was suddenly acutely aware of how her dress was disheveled and the straps of her top kept falling down the sides. She tried to push past him but he grabbed her hand. "Let me go!” she yelled.

      "Wait, Camille. I need to talk to you."

      “Get off me," she snarled.

      “Don’t you remember me Camille?  It’s James.  From London?  We’ve met before.”

      She looked up into his face, recognition finally dawning on her.  It had just been one of those typical adolescent crushes you get in high school or college, where you still feel like enough of a loser to imagine a completely better life for yourself with someone else. Where you see someone attractive enough to catch your eye and you think they're going to save you, fix you in some way. Make your world different, brighter, more interesting, more exciting, more vibrant. Camille had felt that way about James. She had felt that if she could just get to know him, he could help her step out of black and white and into a world full of bright, rich, dazzling color, like a painting. It hadn’t mattered to her that she barely knew him; he could be anyone she wanted him to be.

      Right before Camille faded into unconsciousness, a thought crossed her still-intoxicated mind. She had never wanted anything impossible- no love potions, no talking pets, no modeling jobs for Chanel. But if she could have one thing, it would be a reckless adventure in a paradise where she was only alone three hours a day, and the landscape was damp and chilly, and it was all just perfect enough to be fading.

 

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