Alone at the Party by Deb Joelle

Have you ever gone to a party where you don’t know anyone, only to be ditched by the person who brought you? Well, that’s what happens to my character Kami. This scene is from a novel that will never see the light of publishing (and not just because of all the passive verbs and exclamation points, although they don’t help), but I thought it might be kind of fun to share anyway. All you really need to know is  Becca has sort of taken over Kami’s life and seems to be able to get her to do anything.

Excerpt from Keep the Faith by Deb Joelle

“My parents should be back around eleven. I have to be home before then,” I told Becca. “If they find out I went to a party on a school night, they’ll kill me.

“No problem.”

Mark lived in a huge old house in Ladd’s Addition and cars already lined the narrow street. The house was packed,  and we were barely through the front door before the crowd swallowed Becca up and I was left standing there on my own. The music was blasting and leaned towards hip hop, which I can’t stand. I know…I know…as a teenager I’m supposed to be into that crap, but it is not music no matter what anyone says. Everyone else seemed to like it though and they were shouting and laughing over the top of the noise.

I settled myself onto a dining room chair that I’d pulled into a dark corner and watched the party go on around me. After a while, my butt cheeks started going numb from the hard wooden seat. If I’d just brought my Biology book, I could’ve sat in Becca’s car and studied and she wouldn’t even know. Wait a minute! Mark had Biology right after me. I saw him almost every day on my way out! If he’d brought his book home…but why would he? We’d just had a test and didn’t have any homework. Still…it was worth a shot.

I pushed my way through dancing bodies towards the stairs. It was so hot from all the people, that most of the girls had stripped off their winter sweaters and wore tank tops with their mini-skirts. I guess they’d been to Mark’s parties before. On the stairs I had to climb over one couple making out. I couldn’t tell who they were in the dark, and I was glad about that. At the top, Bret Rawlins was sprawled out, apparently unconscious, but definitely breathing. Just as I stepped over him, he reached up and grabbed my ankle. Of course, I screamed.

“Gotcha!” he yelled, laughing.

His pals, Toby and Tyler were holding up the wall in the hallway, giggling like girls. “That’s six people you’ve scared the shit out of, man!”

“He’s going for a record!”

“Glad I could help. Know where the bathroom is?” I asked.

All three of them sort of waved towards the row of closed doors and I decided to get out of there. I’d have a better chance of finding Mark’s bedroom, and his Biology book if I was “lost” anyway. The lights were out in the first room I looked into and the groaning from the bed made me slam the door in a hurry. This was crazy. I should just go home and study. But what would Becca say? Not that she’d notice.

The next door opened on a linen closet, the third one was locked, so I figured it must be the bathroom. At the end of the hall, I cautiously opened the door. Pay dirt! No one was making out in what was obviously Mark’s room, probably because the odor of smelly socks was enough to make you gag. There were piles of clothes draped over every surface. A single desk lamp was on and I was happy to see that while Mark was obviously a slob, he was also an environmentalist because the bulb was one of those spirally fluorescent ones.

I slipped all the way into the room and closed the door behind me so no one would see me from the hallway. There seemed to be a desk under the massive pile of papers and laundry and as I rifled through them, I knocked over a stack of CDs. I was trying to restack them when I heard a door click. I looked towards it, but it was still shut. Behind me someone cleared his throat. I whirled around to see a guy from my math class standing in the doorway of what was obviously Mark’s bathroom.

“Uh, hi!” I said, my hands full of CDs.

He smiled. What was his name? I could almost remember it, but not really.

“I’m just um..looking for some other music…” I said.

“That’s cool.”

“So…”

“I’ll let you get back to it,” he said and he slipped out the door and back into the hallway.

Oh, God. Would he go find Mark and tell him I was hunting through his desk? How much had he seen? That’s when I noticed the red numbers of Mark’s clock. Ten-thirty-six. I had to find Becca!  I raced from room to room but she wasn’t anywhere. I’d been searching for about fifteen minutes when I found her out on the porch with the smokers. She had a cigarette dangling from her mouth.

“There you are!” we said together.

“Becca, I’ve got to go. I have to be home before The Parents.”

“Here’re my car keys,” she said, fishing them out of her purse. “I’m gonna stay over.”

“What? I can’t take your car.”

“Why not? I’ll get the keys from you third period.”

“My parents will see it outside our house.”

“They won’t know it’s Becca’s,” Mark said, “green Bugs are everywhere.”

“Well…”

It might be kind of fun. Besides, I had to go to school really early so it would be a bonus. “Okay.” Becca gave me a quick hug and told me to drive safely. I’d unlocked the door and was in the driver’s seat before I remembered that it was a stick shift. Crap. It was already ten-fifty and somehow I didn’t think I could teach myself to drive a stick in the next ten minutes. I ran back into the house to find Becca. I started with the patio, but she wasn’t there anymore.

“Have you seen Becca?” I asked in every room.

“Downstairs,” someone finally told me.

I hurled myself down the stairs and found her making out with Mark on the couch.

“Becca, I can’t drive a stick shift.”

She didn’t even look up. “Why not?” She asked through kisses.

Ew.

“I don’t know how!” I said.

“It’s really easy,” Mark said. At least he pulled his face away from Becca’s to talk. “Just push the clutch in when you shift.”

I held the keys out to her. “You’re going to have to drive me home.”

“I can’t. I had a beer.”

“What? When?”

“Well, right now,” she said, holding up a bottle that was still half full.

“Only half?”

She shook her head. “Don’t be stupid. I don’t drive if I’ve even had one sip.”

She had a point. “Yeah…okay.”

“Just go back upstairs and ask around. Someone will give you a ride.”

So that’s what I did. I wandered around looking for someone else I knew. Finally, I spotted the guy from my Pre-calc class. All I really knew about him was he was a senior and that he probably thought I was a CD thief. If he wasn’t drunk, he would have to do. I’d just have to hope he wasn’t an ax murderer or a rapist.

I flashed him a Becca-like smile. “Hi.”

He looked surprised and then made a joke of checking over his shoulder to see if I meant him. I laughed because…well, he was leaning against the wall.

“Kami, right?” he asked.

“Yeah.” I’d heard his name in class. What was it?

“Ian.”

“Right. We’re in Pre-calc together.”

“Yeah…”

“Do you have a car?”

“Sure.”

“Have you been drinking?”

He raised his water bottle to me. “This is my third one of these.”

“Can you take me home? Please?”

He looked surprised, but then he shrugged. “Okay. But don’t tell my girlfriend. She’s kind of jealous.”

“I won’t. I swear.”

He laughed. “I’m just kidding. I’m standing here by myself holding up the wall. I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Oh, right. I’m kind of late,” I said. “I’m not thinking very clearly.”

“Well, let’s go.”

That wasn’t too bad, having to ask a total stranger for a ride…Maybe Becca’s confidence was rubbing off on me. Ian’s car was something that he’d obviously built in his garage using spare parts and duct tape. I thought he was being polite when he opened my door for me, but it turned out he actually had no choice. He needed to crawl in that side himself.

“Sorry,” he said. “The driver’s door won’t open.”

“That’s okay.” I scrambled in after him expecting fast food wrappers and pet hair, but the car was immaculate on the inside.

“Where to?”

I gave him directions and the engine purred to life.

“I’m more into the mechanics than body work.”

“Clearly,” I said, laughing.

“Hey, no one’s going to steal this baby.”

I had to agree.

“I wasn’t taking Mark’s CDs,” I burst out.

“I didn’t really think you were.”

“Well, it might’ve looked bad, but I was just trying to find his Biology book.”

“Okay.”

“I really should’ve been studying tonight. For a make-up test tomorrow that I blew today…and so I was looking for his book.”

“So you just go to parties to study?”

“No. I mean…I didn’t want to go, but Becca Lubin kidnapped me.”

“Ahhh…”

Oh, man. This was getting worse by the minute. Luckily we were almost home. If I could just shut up, I might make it. When he pulled up in front of the house, it was dark. I took that as a good sign. The Parents obviously weren’t home yet or all the lights would’ve been on and my cell would’ve been ringing like mad.

“Thanks for the ride,” I told Ian.

“No problem,” he said. “I’d open the door for you, but I’d have to crawl over you first.”

I laughed. “Sounds fun, but I’m late.”

Oh My God. Did I actually say that? I was turning into Becca! When he smiled at me I saw he had straight teeth. I’m a sucker for nice teeth. I felt myself blush for no good reason. “See you in school,” I said and clambered out of the car. “Thanks again.”

“Any time.”

I hurried up the steps still thinking about Ian’s smile. As soon as I was inside and the door had clicked closed behind me, music started coming from the darkened living room. Crap. Daddy sat in front of the glowing woodstove with his guitar and he was playing a song I knew only too well. He looked up at me and sang louder. He’d substituted a few of his own words for the original ones to fit the occasion.

She’s in the jailhouse now

In the jailhouse now

Well, I told her once or twice

Stop tellin’ lies and start playin’ nice

She’s in the jailhouse now

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Joelle Anthony

3 thoughts on “Alone at the Party by Deb Joelle

  1. I like it! If I were your editor, I’d suggest turning it into present tense and doing something with it…but I know that sometimes you have to just scrap these things.

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