by Sabrina Sanchez
Editor's note: 'Last Hoorah' was the second piece published in our Push Pop series in June 2016. The series also includes 'Field Day' by Helen Healey and 'Aurora' by Joseph Cambonga.
I feel the beads of sweat rolling down my chest. I look down. Somehow my Hawaiian shirt has come unbuttoned, but I’m too drunk to care. I roll my head back and spin around, letting the music take control of my body. The grass feels cool beneath my feet, a nice contrast to the rest of my being, surrounded by the warm bodies of a small mosh pit.
I push and shove my way toward the edge of the group and leave to make my way over to the side of the house. I open the sliding glass door and enter the “music room,” a small finished room in the garage with a crappy couch, a drum set, and a fake white Christmas tree that stays up year round. I ignore the vomiting I hear coming from the bathroom and head over to the cabinet where I stashed my liquor. I bend down and grab two bottles of Macallan, aged fourteen years. With the bottles in tow, I return to the night air. Approaching the dance floor with the whiskey in my arms, I am greeted with cheers.
The bottles are passed around the group and emptied of their contents. I grab them and toss them in the fire pit raging at the edge of the property. I see a few of my friends start to sneak off to the neighbor’s yard, and I jog to catch up. As I slow to a stop, my eyes begin to adjust to the darkness in the trees. Tevin and Tony are climbing over a fence while Justin pees on the trunk of a pine tree to my right. I look past the boys and see a couple of horses in the pasture beyond the fence. In the distance, I hear McKenna, the host, yelling obscenities. Her volume increases as she gets closer, scolding the boys for their stupidity.
When we return to the house, there are noticeably less people. “What happened?”
“Someone started telling everyone the cops were coming,” McKenna said in her southern drawl. “This is Awendaw. The cops never come back here.”
“Who do you think it was?” I asked.
“Callie said she heard that Elle was the one spreading it. Whatever. More Mangoritas for me.”
I follow the sound of conversation to the front yard, where the remainder of the party has congregated. Most people are looking for designated drivers so they can get home. Those without drivers will be spending the night in McKenna’s music room. There are about twenty of us.
It’s around 3:30 AM when McKenna comes down to the music room for the second time. “I told y’all to keep it down! The party is over. Am I gonna have to start confiscating the alcohol?” I push my half empty bottle of Crown Royal behind the bass drum with my foot. “Go to sleep! I don’t want to come down here again.” McKenna slams the door as she begins her march up the stairs.
We break from our circle on the floor and start claiming spots around the room where we’ll be spending the night. A lucky few get the couch while the rest of us are stuck on the cramped floor. Someone flips a switch on the wall and now the only light guiding us emanates from the pink twinkle lights of the Christmas tree in the corner. I walk over to it and claim a spot near the bathroom door, lying down on the itchy carpet with my feet under the tree. Joe lays on my right, separating me from the bathroom. “Hey, I feel like I haven’t seen you all night.”
“I’ve been a little busy,” I say with a sarcastic shrug.
“I guess we’ll finally get to spend the night together – ninth grade me would be so jealous,” Joe quips.
“Ha ha, very funny,” I say, deadpan. “God, we were so horrible back then.” I roll over to lay on my side to face him, resting my head in my hand.
“Can you believe we almost did that? I mean friends with benefits? What were we thinking?”
“I was thinking I was impatient and you were horny. That is until you pussied out like a little bitch!”
“Hey! But aren’t you glad now that I did?” Joe asks.
“Hah yeah that definitely would not have ended well. Gosh and then there was that date that one summer.”
“Oh god that was so horrible. What movie did we see? Despicable Me 2?”
“Yeah I wanted to shoot myself,” I say shaking my head. “And then you wanted to get ice cream after! And I didn’t have the heart to say no.”
“Worst date ever.”
We continue reminiscing in between drags from his vape. Knowing each other throughout all of middle and high school makes it easy to never run out of stories – old relationships, crazy parties, school projects. Back when we met in sixth grade, I didn’t really like Joe. I thought that he was annoying and looked vaguely like one of the Jonas brothers, but I eventually warmed up to him over the course of the school year and even developed a little crush that would last the next couple years. I remember once in seventh grade, Joe was in a competition with a friend of his to see who could cop a feel on the most girls in a single day, and I was one of his first conquests. Then there was that time in eighth grade when we went on the school field trip to Washington, D.C., and I revealed to Joe that I had beaten him to the punch and smoked pot before him. Junior year we were partners in Chemistry, and Joe made it his mission to create as many sexual innuendos as possible using terms from the class. I swear, I’ll never look at geodes the same way again.
Even though we aren’t best friends, we have so much history that we can always tell each other anything. Eventually, I question him about his most recent break up with Victoria, the girl I set him up with two years ago.
Their break up had been ugly. I had originally only set them up because I was trying to fend off Joe’s affections for me, but they really hit it off. Now two years later the whole school got to witness their glorious end. Victoria started drinking and partying. She slept with anyone she could get her hands on and started drinking at school. She would walk into class with an open container, smelling of booze, like it was no big deal. The teachers never did anything – it’s an art school so pretty much anything goes. Joe became even more of a stoner and started partying more too. He slept around a little and it bit him in the ass when a sophomore he hooked up with at a party claimed she was pregnant. The whole school was gossiping about it, all the while, Joe is freaking out about possibly being a father. Turned out the girl faked the whole thing – she later confessed everything to Joe’s younger brother, Terry. Needless to say, Joe’s year had been pretty rough.
At some point I leave to change into an old t-shirt and some boxer shorts. When I return, I lie back on my side and watch Joe’s clear blue eyes travel up and down the length of my body. I guess some things never change.
“Are you cold? I have a blanket I can go get from my car,” Joe offers.
“Yeah, I would grab mine but it’s dirty from the beach.”
Joe returns to our little corner with a big burgundy blanket in his hands. When he sits, he spreads it out over our legs and torsos. “Better?” he asks.
As I roll over to try and get comfortable I notice some embroidery on the corner of the blanket. “Harvard? Oh yeah your mom went there, right?”
“Yeah, this blanket’s one of hers.” Joe replies. His eyes linger on me until he leans his head back on his hands.
We sit in silence for a short period. I think about how things could have been between us, had I given him more of a chance. After graduation next week, he’s going to Texas for school and I’m going to New York. We probably won’t see each other after tonight. Classes are over and neither of us are really invested enough to hang out before leaving for college. The best either of us can hope for is the occasional “Happy birthday” text and out of the blue facebook message, but even those won’t last for too long. This person will eventually become a distant memory. I study the lines of his face as he stares up at the ceiling and fall asleep with these thoughts lingering in my mind.
I wake to the sound of whispers coming from the other side of the room. The morning light peaks through the blinds and shines through the doorway as two girls quietly sneak out. I turn over to my right and realize Joe is gone. I close my eyes and roll over on the carpet. I guess he’s not getting his blanket back.
Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.