Neil started waiting outside my classes after that night and sometimes he would wait with Abigail unless she had other things to do. He was usually free but sometimes he had emergency study sessions with people that I accepted since he was quite clever. Skylar had stopped being such a douche and hung out with us sometimes as well but he had got a promotion and he now had longer hours.
One day I was hanging out with Abigail and Neil in the park. Well, I was studying a lot seeing as I had an English exam coming up soon so I had to revise a lot so I could pass. I was really stressed about it while Abigail and Neil were having fun and doing whatever with no worries.
“Can you guys keep it down? I need to study, I can’t fail this exam.” Neil sat across from me on the picnic table I was studying on.
“It’s really not that hard, Riley. I can teach you this stuff with an emergency study session,” He suggested and raised his eyebrows. “This way at least you won’t fail.”
“No, you go back to Abigail and have some fun,” I replied and started looking through my notes frantically. “Ugh! I just can’t remember any of these!”
“You need a break, once you relax you can come back and study like a mad woman.” I looked at him and saw that his eyes were full of hope. I couldn’t fail but he was the person who was always having emergency study sessions and helping people study. I knew that I should take his advice but I just wanted to study until the exam was over.
“What do you suggest we do?” He grinned and pulled out of my seat. “Wait, I can’t leave my notes here.” I put all the papers in my bag and turned back to him.
“We’re going to have the time of your life,” He said. “Abigail! We’re taking Riley on a free spirit day!”
“I don’t want to do any of these, they all look too…extreme,” I said and they both glanced at each other. “Don’t tell me that you’ve done these.”
“Well…I’ve done most of them,” Neil said and turned to Abigail.
“I’ve done all of them so you have to finish the list the both of you and I’ll help you.”
Kiss a stranger
Dance like nobody’s watching
Shout out a secret
Trash a place
Dye your hair
Slap someone you hate
Stay up past midnight
Go on a date
Go to a fancy dress party and be Juliet/Romeo
“Go to a fancy dress party and be Juliet?” I asked and looked at Abigail who was smirking. “You’ve done that?”
“Hell yeah, I found my Romeo for the night and then we went our separate ways so it wouldn’t end like the play,” She said smugly. I was in awe of how casual she was about it.
“I haven’t been a Romeo but how are we supposed to get into a fancy dress party?”
“Hello, you’ve got the Queen of parties right here!” Abigail said, raising her hand in a sassy way. “I can get anyone into any party at any time.”
“So…if I found my Romeo at the party and we kissed would that tick kiss a stranger off the list as well since I don’t actually know who they are?”
“Yeah, I guess so if you want to do it the easy way. Which ones haven’t you done, Neil?”
“Dye my hair and steal something, oh, and be Romeo but we already covered that.”
“I’ve got my work cut out don’t I?”
“Well, I’ve stayed up past midnight so that’s one off the list.”
“How about we do the simplest one first? Dyeing your hair.”
Abigail had got red hair dye for me and blond hair dye for Neil. I was scared about what I was going to look like but anything was better than my plain brown hair. Abigail said that she was going to dye my hair first and she put on these plastic gloves that made her look like a mad scientist.
“Don’t worry I know what I’m doing. I have to dye my hair every month so my roots don’t show and Neil, your hair’s going to look kind of strawberry blond unless you want to bleach it but I’m not going to do that so…”
“I don’t mind having strawberry blond hair, it’s going to fade away after a month or so anyway.” Abigail wrapped a towel around my shoulders and started putting on the dye. After a while my eyes started watering from the rancid smell.
“Oh God, hurry up and finish it so my eyes stop hurting so much!” I pleaded and Abigail just laughed at me.
“No pain, no gain,” She simply said and carried on. She soon finished and told me that I had to leave it in for half an hour and then she moved on to doing Neil’s hair. He was more nervous about it than I was.
“I never thought that I’d be getting my hair dyed blond by a hot chick before.”
“I’ve never been called a hot chick bef-who am I kidding of course I have,” She said and laughed at her own wit. “But most guys who call me a hot chick want to sleep with me so it’s nice to get a compliment without any strings attached.”
“Oh my gosh! My eyes!” He yelled and his eyes started watering. Abigail rolled her eyes at him.
“You’re being a baby, it doesn’t hurt that much.”
“Yeah it does,” I said, butting in. “You’ve probably gotten used to it by now. How long have you been dyeing your hair anyway?”
“Since I was 15 so about 3, 4 years.”
“Did you always do it yourself?” Neil asked, trying to think about something other than the pain. Abigail shrugged.
“Well…my Mum didn’t agree with it and my Dad always went along with her and I didn’t move in with Skylar and his Mum until a couple of months after that so I didn’t have anyone to help me so I just did it myself.”
“So, were your parents divorced at the time or what?” Neil asked.
“They were divorced but they didn’t tell me. They were trying to be the perfect parents but Dad was seeing Skylar’s Mum and he had to tell me sooner or later. I haven’t seen Mum since I was 16 but she still sends me birthday cards and Christmas cards. I think she wants to be seen as a good parent but I see Skylar’s Mum more as a parent than her. Anyway, we’re done with your hair. Leave it in for half an hour.” She took off her gloves and threw them in the bin. “Anyway, let’s talk about someone else’s family. Riley?” She asked and I felt a lump form in my throat.
“Uh…let’s not,” I replied.
“Okay then, Neil, anything interesting in your family?” Abigail asked him and Neil shook his head.
“My family are the most uninteresting people ever. My Dad is an accountant who likes to play with trains and my Mum works in a supermarket. I’ve got an older brother who wants to be an actor though, he’s the most interesting person in my family.”
“You’re lucky you’ve got a sibling being an only child sucks, nobody else to have fun with when your friends are busy. Maybe that’s why I like guys so much because I don’t want to feel lonely like I did as a child or maybe I’m just thinking about the psychology classes,” She said and shrugged. “But at least now I have Skylar even though he never felt like a brother to me just a friend. Talking of Skylar I should call him and see if he wants to join us in our quest to make you guys cooler.” She left the dorm to call him and I looked at Neil.
“Have you really trashed a place?” I asked him with genuine curiosity.
“Yeah, I was at a friend’s place and we got drunk and trashed his place and since he couldn’t remember a thing I told him that he did it and I tried to stop him. I shouldn’t have lied, I know, but I didn’t want to pay for the TV I smashed.”
“You smashed a TV?!” He nodded and laughed. “I wish I had good times like that to look back on.”
“I’m sure you do, haven’t you ever gone to any parties or something?” He asked.
“Well…yeah but they weren’t really good times.” Abigail walked back in at this point and sat down on the floor like a little kid.
“Skylar’s willing to help out, don’t worry he hasn’t done most of the things on the list either so we’re going to make him live a little as well. How long has it been now?” She asked and checked the time on her phone. “Better wash that out, Riley.” I went into the bathroom and leaned over the bath tub, rinsing the dye out with the shower head. It felt quite nice to just be in there without any talking or fighting. Just peace.
“I love it. You should keep it that way forever it’s just the thing you need to make yourself stand out of the crowd. This is the way you’re going to get a guy,” Abigail said excitedly. She hadn’t been this excited about Neil’s hair but it did suite him quite a bit. My hair however made me feel alive, I couldn’t stop touching and stroking it. Just feeling it made me feel like I was a new person. “I’ve went through the fancy dress party with my associates and an actual masquerade ball has been arranged. Just like Romeo and Juliet. It’s going to be tomorrow night so we need to get costumes and masks and just make it perfect. We’re not even going to know who each other are because we’ll be wearing wigs as well!” Abigail was such a fantasised but it was so nice to see her so happy about what might not even happen that I didn’t want to ruin her dreams.
“Sounds like fun,” Neil said. “Will Skylar be involved with all this or is he going to step aside on this one?”
“I don’t know yet. I’m going to call him and find out but I can always use the ‘I’m your little sister’ tactic on him to convince him to come anyway.” Abigail laughed at her own humour again. “Why do you want him to come? I didn’t think you two got along.”
“Well, we don’t even know each other very well so I can’t really have anything against him,” He said with a slight edge to his voice.
“Are you sure you don’t have anything against him because it sure seems like you do?”
“No, nothing. You know what I should go shopping for a tuxedo or something for the party so you do your thing and I’ll see you later,” He said and left without saying another word.
“He has something against Skylar and I’m going to find out what it is.”
“Maybe you should just leave it,” I suggested and Abigail glared at me.
“Your new hair is supposed to start making you more outgoing instead of being normal you. Not that I don’t love normal you but come on, live a little.” I rolled my eyes at her and smiled.
“Fine but we have to get our clothes for the party before anything else, okay?”
“Okay, okay, clothes first, fun later.”