Authors: C. E. Starkweather
Take It Easy
Brandi Warner sighed in frustration. "Why am I so ugly?" She asked her best friend, Kayla. "Nothing looks good on me."
Kayla rolled her eyes. "You're not ugly. Not by a long shot. Stop being so nervous and calm down. It's just a party." She opened Brandi's closet and pulled out a short black skirt with black boots. "Here," she said, tossing the skirt and boots on the bed. "This with a white tank top."
Brandi took the clothes gratefully. "I don't know why I'm so bad at this. You'd think at 17 I'd know how to dress myself." She threw on the outfit and studied her reflection in the mirror. "You don't think the skirt is too short?"
"Hell, no," Kayla said. "Look at mine. You look awesome."
Brandi couldn't see what was so "awesome" about her reflection. Plain brown hair, dull brown eyes. Everything about her screamed "average." "I know it's just a party," she said. "But it's my first actual party. In case you hadn't noticed, this isn't really my thing."
Kayla tackled her for a hug. "I know. Thank you so much for going with me. I promise you'll have fun."
Brandi snorted. Kayla had only been her friend since she had moved to Westlake in the beginning of junior year, but they had hit out off immediately and were inseparable. Personality wise, they were complete opposites. Kayla was a social butterfly, fitting into every social circle. Brandi was shy and quiet and had never really fit in. The first party of senior year was supposed to be a big deal and Kayla had somehow convinced Brandi to go with her.
"Are you sure you want to go?" Brandi asked, nervously smoothing her skirt. "We can stay here and watch movies or something."
Kayla laughed at her. "I promise it'll be fine. We'll go, and if after an hour you want to leave then we'll come back here and watch movies. Ok?" Brandi shrugged. She supposed she could suffer through an hour if Kayla wanted to go that badly. "Fine. My mom's gonna freak out if we're out too late anyway. She's home tonight and in one of those moods."
Kayla grinned at her. "She'll be asleep when we get back anyway." Brandi started to shake her head. "I'm just saying," Kayla said, holding up her hands, "that if we wanted to stay for more than an hour, we could. No pressure."
Brandi sat on the bed. "You can't abandon me. I don't want to be sitting in the corner while you pick up guys."
Kayla sat next to her. "I promise I won't abandon you. Anyway, we'll get a couple of drinks in you and you'll be picking up guys left and right. You just need some liquid courage."
Brandi laughed. "Yeah, no. Come on, let's get this over with."
Kayla sighed. "It's a party, Brandi. You shouldn't have to 'get it over with.'" Brandi ignored her and headed downstairs. Her mom was in the kitchen getting a glass of water. "Hi, Lynn," Kayla greeted her. "Getting ready for bed?" Lynn gave Kayla a half hearted smile. "Yeah."
Brandi's parents had gotten divorced last winter and her mom had been depressed ever since. She spent most of her days working and sleeping, just going through the motions. Brandi's dad had gotten his secretary pregnant and decided he wanted that family more than he wanted his own. He hadn't even fought for custody of Brandi, and that made her feel worthless.
"We'll only be out for an hour or so, ok mom?" She asked, hugging her mother tightly. Some days Lynn was afraid to let Brandi go out, as if she was afraid that Brandi would leave and never come back like her husband had. Other days she didn't seem to notice Brandi at all. "I love you, Mom. I'll see you in the morning."
Lynn hugged Brandi back. "Love you too, honey," she murmured into her hair. Brandi grabbed her purse, following Kayla out the door.
"Let's walk," Kayla said, practically bouncing up and down. "It's just up the street." Brandi knew that Kayla would drink too much if they decided to walk, but she kept her mouth shut.
she told herself.
One hour of torture then I can go back home and go to sleep.
Kayla shoved the door open and grabbed Brandi's hand, pulling her to the bar. Brandi looked around at the guys who were drunk already trying to pick up the girls who were wearing micro miniskirts and low cut tops. She almost laughed, remembering how she had thought her outfit was too revealing. Compared to these other girls, she looked like a nun. Nobody gave her a second glance, and she felt extremely out of her element. "Drinks first!" Kayla yelled, pouring a shot for her and Brandi. "Drink up, Bitch!" Brandi rolled her eyes and downed the shot, trying to keep a straight face as the burning alcohol poured down her throat. Kayla immediately poured them two more shots. "Kayla, I don't want to get trashed, ok?"
"Pfff," Kayla waved her off. "It's a party, Brandi. And we're not driving. Just do this one more with me." Brandi reluctantly downed the second shot as Kayla poured herself a third. "Kayla, slow down. You're gonna get sick."
Kayla shook her head, slamming the empty shot glass down on the bar. "Not a chance. I'm a professional drinker, remember?"
Brandi laughed. "Yeah, I remember. I remember you puking all over your bathroom and me having to convince your mom that you got food poisoning."
"I promise I won't get sick. I have to pee. Wait right here for me," she said as she bounced off to find a bathroom. Brandi leaned against the bar, trying to look casual. She knew that Kayla would probably come out of the bathroom and get distracted, leaving Brandi to fend for herself. She glanced at her phone. "50 more minutes," she muttered to herself.
"50 minutes till what?"
She turned around, surprised. A tall, handsome boy was grinning at her. "Oh, uh, nothing." She stuttered. "I was talking to myself."
He laughed. "You're that drunk already? You just got here."
She looked up at him, trying to calm her nerves. He was a head taller than her, with short, spiky black hair and eyes so dark brown that they almost looked black. He was possibly the sexiest boy she had ever seen. She had seen him around school but had never talked to him. She was in mostly advanced classes and he was probably in the lower classes. Trying not to be mesmerized by his eyes, she forced a smile. "How do you know when I got here?"
"Saw you come in," he responded, looking her up and down. She shifted self consciously. "I'm Zack."
"Brandi," she said shyly, sticking out her hand awkwardly. He laughed and shook her hand.
Shit, she thought, realizing that shaking hands wasn't something people her age did.
Way to be awkward, Brandi.
"What are we drinking, Brandi?" He asked, picking up the bottle. "Whipped cream vodka? Seriously?"
She shrugged. "It was the first thing we found."
He grinned even wider at her to reveal perfectly straight, white teeth. "I like the way you think," he said, pouring two shots. He slid one towards her. She shook her head. "I already had two."
"So? It's a party. You can have one more."
Brandi thought for a second, then shrugged. Three shots wouldn't get her trashed. She picked up the glass as Zack hooked his arm in hers. The touch of his body sent an electric jolt through her. She gasped and he immediately pulled back. "Sorry, too soon?" He asked, smirking at her with that sexy grin.
She shook her head. "No, its fine. Sorry." She hooked her arm around his and they took their shots.
Zack leaned closer to Brandi. "So, I hope you don't mind me saying so, but you're the prettiest girl at this lame ass party."
Brandi giggled, her face flushing with the mixture of the alcohol and embarrassment. "Why would I mind you saying that? Even though it's not true."
He stared into her eyes, suddenly serious. "No, its definitely true. You're gorgeous, Brandi."
Brandi's heart skipped a beat at the sound of her name rolling off his tongue. Nobody had ever called her gorgeous before. "Thanks," she said awkwardly.
He looked around, bored. "You wanna get out of here?"
The smile fell from her face. So that's why he called her gorgeous. He thought it would get him laid. "No, I'm good here. Thanks," she said, turning away. He grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards him. She gasped, pulling away. "Sorry," he said, holding his hands up. "But that's not what I meant. I just wanted to talk to you somewhere a little more quiet, is all. We can just go sit outside."
Brandi looked around for Kayla and spotted her dancing with a group of girls that Brandi didn't really know.
"Yeah, sure," she said, smiling at Zack. "Sorry. I thought you wanted..."
He took her hand and led her away, not letting her finish. "I know what you thought. But I'm not like that. That's why you need to get to know me better," he said, grinning at her. Brandi loved the way his eyes sparkled when he smiled. It made her want to make him smile a lot more.
Zack led them outside to the gazebo. They sat on a bench and Zack pulled a small bottle out of his jacket. "Swiped this," he said, smiling devilishly at her. "We can have our own Zack and Brandi party."
The sound of their names together made Brandi's stomach do a somersault.
What's wrong with me? I just met this guy. Why am I so smitten already?
As if reading her thoughts, Zack took her hand and stroked it. "I like the way that sounds. Zack and Brandi."
Brandi blushed, thankful that it was dark outside. Zack took a swig of the bottle and passed it to Brandi, who shook her head. She didn't want to get drunk and make a fool of herself. Especially in front of Zack. She already felt awkward and out of place sitting next to him.
Zack nodded approvingly at her. "I like a woman who's not afraid to say no."
Brandi smiled, relieved he didn't think she was a baby for not wanting to drink more. She racked her brain trying to think of things to talk to him about. Luckily, he broke the silence. "So you live around here?"
"Yeah, like two streets away. Right over on Botsford. Where do you live?"
He lit a cigarette. "Other side of town. Want one?" He asked, nodding at his cigarette. She shook her head.
"Such a good girl," he said, chuckling. Brandi's face turned bright red. What was she doing here with this guy? He clearly thought she was immature and stupid. What would someone so hot want with plain old her? She looked away. "I should get back inside. My friend is probably looking for me."
"Wait!" Zack said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it as an insult. I just mean you seem very..."
"Naive?" She offered.
"Amazing," he said softly. "You seem amazing. And I don't think you're naive. If you were, you would be drunk right now. Being a good girl isn't a bad thing. I like that you're not a professional blow job machine like these other skanks here," he said, waving at the crowds of drunk girls falling over themselves.
Brandi giggled, until she saw that one of the girls was Kayla. "Oh, shit," she said, standing up. "I need to get her home. Before she turns into a...what did you call it? A professional blow job machine."
Zack stood with her. "Do you need help getting her home?"
Brandi smiled at his sweet gesture. "Thanks, but no. I've got this. Thanks for keeping me company," she called over her shoulder, rushing to pick Kayla up off the ground, who was laughing hysterically. "Kayla Adams, if you throw up I will murder you. I told you not to drink too much."
Kayla waved her off. "Take it easy, mom. I'm fine." She got up and stumbled to the side. Brandi sighed, taking Kayla's hand. "Come on, alky. You smell a tequila factory."
"Where we goin?" Kayla slurred.
"Holy hell Kayla, how much did you drink? We were only there for...oh, shit. Two hours, apparently," she said, checking the time on her phone. She felt a pang of regret that she didn't get Zack's phone number and that he didn't get hers. Pushing her thoughts away, she concentrated on half walking, half carrying Kayla back to her house. "Be quiet," she whispered to Kayla. "If you wake my mom up she'll freak out that we were drinking."
Kayla nodded and thankfully managed to be quiet as they crept up to Brandi's room. Kayla flopped down on the bed and Brandi went downstairs to get Kayla a glass of water. On the way back to her bedroom she grabbed a couple of aspirin. "Take these," she said quietly, handing the pills to Kayla. "Unless you're going to be sick."
"I'm fine," Kayla responded, taking the pills and chugging the glass of water. She laid back down and closed her eyes. Brandi laid down next to her and tried to fall asleep, but she couldn't stop thinking about Zack.
"You seem amazing."
He was clearly just drunk. Nobody would ever call her amazing. She wasn't ugly, she was just average. Still though, even if he wasn't sincere, it was nice to hear. She fell asleep thinking of Zack and his sparkling white smile.
Don't Take It So Personally
"Wake up, bitch!"
Brandi rolled over and squinted at Kayla, who was bouncing up and down on her bed.
"What the…what time is it?" Brandi mumbled.
"I don't know. Like 9? Get up! I'm so bored."
"Are you kidding?" Brandi asked, sitting up. "How are you not hung over?"
Kayla shrugged. "I told you, I'm a professional drinker. And school starts tomorrow so we have like eight billion things to do today."