As Austin goes to his stereo to blare out some loud, party music, Jenna whispers to me.
“I’ve got him, Ella-May. He seems really interested in me. I’ve even had some alcohol – he didn’t notice!” her voice sounds excited, and I believe her. I smile to myself. So it turns out I was right in thinking that she had lied about her hanging out with Austin a lot. She wouldn’t sound that excited that he’s ‘interested in her’. “Isn’t that –”
I but in, “That’s great,” I say. Jenna always says ‘isn’t that great’ when she wants me to say something.
Music is suddenly played, and it’s very loud. I wait for Austin to turn the music down, but he doesn’t. He turns the lights off, so it’s just the colourful disco ball light dancing around the room.
Jenna grins at me. “I might be able to get a cheeky snog if I’m lucky,” she says loudly to me over the music. I smile.
Taking a sip from my drink, I realise that I’ve drunk all the coke already. I sigh, walking over to the drink table. It’s dark and I have to shuffle my way through the thick crowd. I keep my head down, too. I don’t want anyone to recognise me wearing such a stupid dress.
I feel something hard hit my face. Embarrassed, I look up, and see a tall blonde boy. I can’t see him well in the dark, so I can’t identify the colour of his eyes. I come up to his shoulder. I take a step backwards so my face isn’t so close to his shoulder.
“Sorry,” I apologise, and side step to walk past him.
He laughs, “No, It was my fault,” he says, and smiles at me. I smile back. I don’t mean to: his smile is contagious. He looks down at my cup in my hands. “Are you getting alcohol?”
I laugh at this, “No.”
He knits his eyebrows together. I wish it weren’t so dark in here. I want to see the colour his eyes, so I have something to remember him by. All I can see is his hair, which I suppose is blonde, but I can’t be certain in the flashing lights. It looks curly and wavy, with a slight quiff. “How old are you, then?”
“I’m fifteen. I’m getting coke,” I explain.
He nods. “You could get alcohol. You know, if you wanted to. No one would notice.” He takes a step back, realising what he just said. He holds his hands out. “I’m not trying to influence you into it, I’m just saying.”
“I know,” I say, “But I don’t like it anyway.”
He chuckles, a low, hearty chuckle. “How strange,” he says. He doesn’t side-step to let me past: he stays in my way. Then, he says something else, “Nice dress you got there.”
I squirm in embarrassment, and my hand immediately goes to the back of my stupid dress to pull it tighter. “Don’t. I know it’s horrible.”
He shakes his head. “It isn’t. It’s nice; suits you.” I raise my eyebrows at him, as if to say really? He laughs. “You don’t take compliments easily, do you?”
I take the question as a rhetorical one. I side-step around him, and he steps back to let me past.
As I pour more coke into my glass, I think to myself why did he talk to me? Why did he stop and talk? Why didn’t he just let me past? What was it of me that made him talk, then let me go, as if we’d never even talked?
Do I know him?
I laugh to myself at my last thought. The only person I know in here is Jenna, and I have no idea where she is now.
I take a sip of my drink, and feel the bubbles fizz in my mouth. I’ve never really liked fizzy drink. I always pull a face when I feel them fizz in my mouth, and most of them don’t taste all that nice. They taste so sweet; so sugary.
I take another sip, this one bigger than I normally take: I squeeze my eyes shut at the bubbles.
I sigh. If all I have to entertain me for the rest of the evening is fizzy drink, I am going to get awfully bored.
I look around the room, trying to find the girl with long blonde hair, otherwise known as Jenna. I find her alright. It’s very easy to find Jenna. If you just follow the irritating, high-pitched fake laugh, you’ll find her. And Austin.
And then it’s like how it was before: standing around and eaves-dropping into Jenna’s conversation. They don’t do much: they just talk and top-up their drink every so often. They don’t do any dancing, like most people are in the room.
How is Austin managing? Doesn’t he want to be around the other people in this room, rather than just Jenna? Or does he like having a particular attention, instead of talking to everyone that’s attended his party?
Searching for the boy with the wavy hair, I look around the room. It’s not much point: the room is dark, despite the swinging disco ball. However, the disco ball only casts a coloured light on a certain place for little time, so it makes the process of searching for someone very difficult.
Jenna and Austin’s conversation doesn’t get any better. I soon stop listening, and instead tune in to people-around-me’s conversation. They seem to be a lot happier, laughing and dancing, too. Why can’t I be doing that?
I walk away from Jenna and Austin. Neither of them notice. I turn away from them, and I try and dance with everybody else. I feel stupid, with my big dress and everyone else wearing slim, short dresses and talking to each other. I know for sure I’m older than some people in here – I’m fifteen and feel like a little child who’s left out at a party.
I hear a soft, hearty chuckle from behind me. Feeling my cheeks redden, – someone’s seen me dance stupidly – I turn around. I don’t recognise the person standing behind me at first.
“Hello again,” he says, “I like your dancing.”
I laugh, looking at his hair to check it is the same boy I was talking to earlier. It is: the wavy, short, blonde hair with a quiff is quite recognisable. “I don’t think I was dancing.”
He doesn’t comment on that. Instead, he changes the subject. “Why did you leave your friend?”
I furrow my eyebrows. “Were you watching me?” I bite my lip as soon as I’ve said it. This is why I shouldn’t talk to boys – anyone – I always say something without thinking it through.
“Well, not watching as such, but…” he shrugs. “I hardly know anyone here.”
I shake my head, “Me neither. Apart from Jenna,” I see something flash through the boy’s eyes: recognition? Confusion? “Uh, Jenna, my friend,” I explain quickly.
He raises his eyebrows briefly, as if to say yeah, I know. He changes the subject again, quickly, back to what it was originally, “Would you care do dance with me?”
I laugh, “I can’t dance. You saw me.”
“I know I saw you,” he says, and smiles. I find myself smiling in return. He holds out his hand. “So, do you want to dance?”
He laughs. “Come on. I don’t mean slow dance, all close and steamy. I mean, just laughing and having fun. I’ll make sure you can see Jenna, if that’s what’s worrying you.”
I giggle at the way he says it. “No, it’s okay. I’m not used to having people ask me to dance with them.”
“I’m not used to asking people to dance with me,” he smiles again. A new song starts blasting through the speakers. “Oh, I know this song.”
I laugh, “Almost everyone knows the ‘Macarena’, silly,” I say, and I dance with everyone else in the room, doing the well-known ‘Macarena’ dance.
The boy, however, gets the moves in the wrong order, not in time with anyone in the room: almost making up his own dance. I laugh, trying to teach him the dance, which makes me out of sync with everyone else.
And that’s how the evening continues as: the boy and I laugh at each other, and messing about – just how Jenna and I should be like.
Towards the end of the night, slow, calm music starts playing. The boy, still with a mischievous grin on his face, reaches for my hand. I allow him to hold it this time. I step a little closer to him, as he places his other hand on my shoulder blade.
“I guess you’re used to this, huh? Having beautiful boys like me dance with you?” he asks jokily. I laugh, and watch his face do a fake sad face – bottom lip sticking out. “You don’t think I’m beautiful?”
I laugh even more. “I don’t know. I can’t see you in this light.” I say, focusing on him.
“I can barely see you, either. That’s dangerous, isn’t it?” he says.
I shake my head. “I’m sure we’re fine.”
He chuckles, and then I see it: his eyes. They’re green, with a little bit of blue. There’s dark ocean green, light sky blue, blended together, one colour but then again two. I only see his eyes for a brief second, but I’m sure there was a slight tint of gold, framing his iris.
“What’s your name?” he asks suddenly, before he chuckles.
“Ella-May,” I say. I’m about to ask for his name, but I’m distracted by his eyes again. He furrows his eyebrows slightly, tilts his head to one side. I see a brief flash of confusion, recognition, realisation. There isn’t quite a word that describes the expression, but it’s gone before it’s had enough time to stay.
Just like the party, the night, the laughter with the boy whose name I didn’t ask for: it’s gone before it’s had enough time to stay.