It's the night of my party, and I actually feel slightly excited. It's still two days before my Birthday, but I feel like my life as an adult is already sinking in. My friends surround me, pressed up against the sink, perfecting their make-up in the mirror. Budging beside April, I lift mascara to my eyes, finishing off the effect Sophia did for me - I can't do make-up to save my life.
"I'm so so glad you're actually wearing make-up for once," April says, finishing off her face with bright red lipstick.
"I know, doesn't she look so much prettier?" Sophia chimes.
I smile gently, daring to look in the mirror. Now, with my features lined and my eyes layered with products, I actually look presentable, and for once, unrecognisable. Dancing inside with relief that I might actually look my part, I head downstairs with the girls. We're at Chloe's, only because she has the biggest house of us all. She has a massive entrance hall, a huge lounge area, and a room at the back with disco lights that we always take advantage of when the weather outside is bleak. I hear voices outside the front door as we're sitting squished together on the sofa. The doorbell rings a second later.
"People!" Chloe cries, jumping up and yanking me along with her. According to her I should be the one to open the door, considering it is my Birthday. So opening the door, I greet some girls from our school, dressed up as usual. They hand me a wine bottle, before scuttling off to the lounge.
"Who's that?" I ask Chloe, gesturing to the girl at the back.
She shrugs. "Probably a plus one."
"I thought we were only inviting people we knew."
"This is a party, dear. Chill out." She laughs, stalking off to socialise with them. Ignoring the comment, I follow and attempt to make conversation too. Soon enough, I get bored of talking about boys and make-up and shopping. Instead I make it a routine to opening the door, amidst drinking a glass of wine Chloe thrust into my hand.
Person after person after person floods through the door, the same smile always plastered across my face. They give me alcohol, I thank them. They make their way in, I close the door after them. I feel more like a servant than the girl who's Birthday it is. But I refuse to feel down.
I'm just chatting amongst a few girls who are gushing over how nice I look, when the doorbell rings for another time. I say my goodbye, slipping through the crowds of people that now fill the hallway. Just about reaching the door, I fling it open.
"Hey, come in!" I cry, standing to the side. It's only when I properly look at the person standing before me that I take the fake smile off my face.
It's him. Again.
"How are we meeting for a third time?" I say, rather amused.
"I saw your party group on Facebook. I'm friends with Brent, who's here."
Confusion must slide over my face because he then says, "Yeah I doubt you know everyone here, but I just thought I'd pop by to join in the fun."
I turn back to look at the state of the house. A girl is pressed up against the stairs by a boy, mouths attached. People sway about, already drunk from the unlimited amount of beer and wine that's scattered about the house.
I turn back to the guy whose name I still don't know, despite our numerous meetings. "I guess you can come in, if you call this fun."
He steps inside. "You don't call this fun?"
"It's not my kind of thing." I admit, closing the door behind him.
I lead him through the crowds, almost giving a sort of tour. He says hi to a few people who I'm guessing he knows, and of course, all the girls turn to look at him. And then me, alongside. I see their immediate thoughts - 'she's going out with him?'. But of course, we're not even dating.
In the end, we somehow separate, going off in different directions. I attempt to interact with the other girls, adding in a comment here or there, but all I get in return are glares. Even from my own friends, who widen their eyes as if to say 'be cooler'. But I'm me. And they're them. There's nothing I can do to try and fit in with a crowd I don't belong in.
So pushing through the hoards of people, tears already pricking at my eyes, I walk out into the fresh air of the front garden. Beer bottles lie on the dew-dropped grass and a few people sit a strew. Ignoring them, I go to the corner of the lawn and sit down, cross-legged. The grass is damp, enough to soak through my dress, but I don't care anymore. Somehow the hearts that scatter my dress are more real when they're tainted. Tainted like my heart.
It's not long before I hear April calling from inside, announcing that it's time for the cake. I almost get up, hurrying inside to be there for the cheers, but why bother? Why bother crave for the attention that you're never going to get? Instead I hear the worried whispers when people wonder where I am, the confused melodies singing awkwardly as people look around the crowd. But I'm fine with it. So be it. This isn't close to the Birthday I dreamed of.
I sit amongst the bugs and the leaves for what seems like hours before I hear footsteps clattering down the steps behind me. Turning back, I almost sigh when I notice the same guy who keeps turning up out of nowhere. Of course he is here right now. He seems to be everywhere.
Crossing the lawn, he comes over to sit beside me. "Why are you out here?"
I shrug, and he continues, "They've just been singing happy birthday to you and you weren't even listening."
"I could hear from out here." I point out, picking up bits of grass before dropping them back again.
"What's up? You're eighteen and you're not happy?"
"I'm not eighteen yet. Two days."
He sighs, shuffling slightly so he's tilted in my direction. I pin my hair behind my ear and look up at him. His eyes glint in the light streaming from inside, and against the shimmering moon I can see half of his face, whilst the other lies in complete darkness. He twists his lips up.
I stare back down at the grass, refusing to let him see my blush, but he grabs the side of my chin facing away from him and pulls it round so I'm looking at him again. I smile awkwardly, biting my lip.
"Happy Eighteenth," he says, and I'm left confused for a moment, before I feel his lips closing around mine.
Memories suddenly flash before me. His hands pin my weight down on the bed. He yanks my head back, lips forced against mine. My mind blurs as he whispers to me, whispers assuring words I don't want to hear. I try to call out, I try to scream, but nothing leaves my mouth. Help me. Rescue me. Don't do this. Why are you doing this.
His lips now part from mine, and I stumble backwards on my hands. Pain slashes across his vision, almost in recognition, realisation. But he knew all along. My hands shake violently, tears beginning to stream down my face.
"Kyle." I stammer, moving further away from his undeniable grip. "It's you."
My mind whirs with emotions and memories , of back when I was fourteen and I'd gone to my first house party. There Kyle stood amongst everyone, his opal eyes enough to send me falling onto my knees, falling into his trap. I remember him holding my hand, mine so tiny in his. As we weaved through the crowd he led me upstairs, shutting the door behind us in one of the bedrooms. And all I remember next was the screaming inside, the pain I felt as he destroyed my body. He destroyed me.
And now, four years later, his body developed, his stubbled chin and his chestnut coloured hair, he's another person. The same Kyle in a different body. I think back to how I noticed his T-Shirt, recognised his eyes, how he knew I was turning eighteen. Had he, amongst everything, regretted what he'd done?
I turn my head in shame. Fiercely, I wipe away the pain in my tears, but there's no way to fight this ongoing battle. I thought I had fought through this, I had let it go to move on. But now he's back to ruin me again.
"Why didn't you tell me." My words slice against the chilly air, causing him to almost flinch in my anger.
"You wouldn't have even talked to me."
I feel lava bubbling within me. "And wouldn't that have been for the better? You know what you did. So why bring it back to hurt me again?"
He drops his head in shame. "I loved you."
"You only knew me for one night!" I scream, throwing my hands up, pushing myself off the lawn.
"Wait!" He calls out, instantly grabbing my arm, but all I can feel is the adrenaline of his power rushing through me. He can't own me. He won't own me.
"Don't ever come near me again."
I yank my arm from his grip, disappearing into the night. I leave deserved tears to stain his face, and painful ones to burn mine. There's no going back.