The Popular Bitch (aka Addison Holland)
As hard as I will myself to do so, I can’t seem to tear my eyes from the girl in the tight, sequined dress.
She doesn’t belong here. I feel my glossy lips curl into an involuntary smirk as I take in the girl’s outfit. Or more fittingly, the girl’s collection of clothing items thrown onto her body. A stab of pity shoots through me, quickly overshadowed by the stunning disbelief that she would leave the house looking like that. I can’t even imagine the torturous secondhand embarrassment that would come with actually interacting with the poor girl.
It was the sparkly dress adorning her poorly maintained that drew my attention to the girl in the first place. Light from the strobe lights around the room reflect off the patches of bent sequins littering the slinky clothing item, reminding me of a shattered, misshapen disco ball. Her round frame does nothing but add to the sad, disco ball illusion. The reflective piece of fabric, barely classifiable as a dress, clings to her doughy frame like a cotton t-shirt to a fat kid that just got out of the pool, outlining every part of her body she should try her best to hide. After taking in the utter hideousness of the girl’s outfit, I decide the dress would be better off cut into tiny little pieces and used in a kindergartener’s Christmas project.
I’d be surprised if the sad excuse of a dress was bought within the last decade. It seems like the type of thing one could only find in a run-down, thrift store that donates all its proceeds to some useless charity, and I can’t say much better about the scuffed, four-inch stilettos that she somehow managed to stuff her unusually fat feet into. Just looking at the awkward position her feet are contorted into makes me consider referring the girl to my favorite foot spa. And stabbing myself in the eyes with the nearest cutlery.
I contemplate sneaking a picture of her to send to my friends. They would absolutely love it, replying with something like lol or gross or the emoji of the guy throwing up, all of them being equally fitting. I look around the room, trying to wrack my brain, but fail to come up with a clever-enough caption, eventually trashing the idea. Without a humorous or witty comment to accompany the picture, I know it would be seen as plain mean. I accidentally make eye contact with a stranger.
I hope someone smarter gets the same idea and follows through. This girl was practically asking to be made fun of. I glance over at the girl once more. She’s dressed like she’s at a High School Class of 1958 Reunion, not a casual house party thrown by an over enthused senior whose parents are both out of town and too trusting to hide their good alcohol. I feel the only reasons for her to be dressed that badly and inappropriately are if she’s Helen Keller or if this is some desperate attempt to fit in.
I can take a pretty good guess as to which of the two reasons is right.
The clueless girl can’t really be blamed for this shot-in-the-dark attempt at social recognition. From what meets the eye, she needs all the help she can get. know she could never be popular on her looks alone. That she could never be a cheerleader. Or on homecoming court. Or really anything special at all. Not with that body. And hair. And posture. And nose. An five-head. Et cetera.
Looking around, I realize she didn’t even come here with anybody.
She’s a nobody. She’s a nobody obviously trying to be a somebody.
I can’t help but let a smile creep across my face again. This girl is just full of comic potential.
The feeling of pity comes back, significantly more overwhelming than before, but significantly less than the two new emotions accompanying it
Pride in pinpointing exactly who this girl is fills me. Before, this girl was an enigma. Just a poorly dressed girl talking to a boy way out of her league. She could have been anything. But I saw right through it and, with the tiniest bit of detective work, compartmentalized this girl perfectly in her brain, filed under all the other nobodies Addison has come into contact with, all in less than five minutes. Filed along with all the other desperate girls, dressed as if they should be on the corner of some trashy street, stationed next to a Burger King or a gas station that doubles as a center for drug deals, with makeup that makes them look like the Walmart version of any beauty guru ever. I can’t look at them for too long without feeling something like sympathy, reminding me of little girls that got into their moms’ closets: overdressed, plain ridiculous looking, and trying so hard to be something they aren’t.
I feel like Sherlock Holmes. A hot, female Sherlock Holmes.
I knows what this girl is, and it’s not anything she’s covering up well. Her attention-seeking antics are drawing attention. It’s just not the type of attention anyone should want, in my opinion.
I bet she was somebody, once upon a time. She may have even been considered popular. Maybe in middle school, she had a big group of friends and boys falling at her Jack Rogers-clad feet. She was considered cool by her peers and smart by adults. She had a place. Then high school came around, friends grew out of her, boys realized her straightened blond hair and bright green didn’t actually make her pretty, and she was knocked her off her little throne, deduced to nothing more than a lowly freshman that no one, not even the other freshmen, cared about.
This party is her chance at regaining that popularity that she had grown so used to. That she thinks she deserves. Partying with the upperclassmen, showing skin in clothes she found from the back of her mom’s closet, drinking beer like everyone else, maybe talking up a few senior boys is her ticket to social recognition. Except, she looks ridiculous. The boy she’s talking to is really nothing special himself, but at least he’s dressed for the occasion, not like he’s attending a trashy 70s themed dance.
I know, deep down, that even she knows she shouldn’t be here. She has to. Her arms are crossed tightly across her boobs, though it’s difficult to see where her breasts end and her gut begins. She’s huddled and slouched in on herself as if trying to make herself as small and unnoticeable as possible.
She was unnoticeable before she even came to this party. If she wants to go back to that invisible state, which she should, considering the silent judgments she’s undoubtedly receiving, she should just leave. It’s not like she was invited to this senior house party anyway. I wonder how she even found out about this party, let alone gotten through the front door. She’s definitely not pretty enough to get in without knowing anyone here.
“What are you doing?” a voice asks, with a bit of an impatient bite, drawing me out of me focus on the pathetic girl. I turn my attention to the source of the question, finally able to tear my eyes from the atrocious sight, now that I’d figured her out.
“Nothing.” I practically have to yell to project my already loud voice across the two feet between me and Harper and over the dozens other voices filling up the living room. I know Harper’s question is a trap. I’ve known my best friend long enough to know that she’ll end up with more attitude no matter what I say. The couch dips as someone sits on the other side from the duo.
“No. Tell me. I genuinely want to know what is more interesting than hearing me speak. You obviously don’t know what I was talking about, so the least you can do it tell me what the fuck was occupying your attention?” Her voice would come across as bitchy and venomous to anyone but me. But to me, it’s just Harper giving me a hard time, trying to make sure the attention is back on her. She’s kind of an attention whore, but in a good way. And I do know what she was talking about. I know what she was talking about, but I don’t want to give me that satisfaction. And I just don’t feel like explaining what was really occupying my attention while I should have been listening to Harper drone on about who got kicked off the Bachelor and how none of the girls there are really pretty enough for the Bachelor.
“Sorry. I was just thinking...” I run my rounded fingernails through my hair, feeling the stringiness of my usually soft hair. I make a mental note to either shower or spray in some dry shampoo when I get home, before elaborating “...about how beautiful you look tonight.” I plaster the sweetest smile possible on my face and bat my heavy eyelashes.
Harper laughs, unamused. “Wow, greeeeat save. But as beautiful as I know I am looking tonight, I also know that you’re lying straight to my beautiful face. Come on. Spill. What’s on Addison Holland’s pretty little mind?”
“Nothing.” Harper gives me a look. “Just wondering what some girls are thinking when they leave the house wearing what they do. What possesses them to turn a blind eye to what’s so obvious.” I follow my answer with a long sip from my dented, red solo cup, drinking in the cheap beer and drinking in the 2000s pop music blaring through the 4-foot speakings placed in each corner of the room. “I wonder if they actually think they look good.”
Harper scopes out the room, her eyes eventually landing on that girl. She’s standing alone now. The boy she was talking to must’ve escaped her clutches and moved onto better uses of his time. Like clipping his toenails. Harper parts her glossy lips into a vicious smile, before sneering, “The sad thing is, I think she actually does think she looks good. You know what? She probably got ready with her friends and they hyped her up. Oh my gosh, Becky, you look so freaking good! Every guy’s jaw will just drop when they see you in that ten dollar dress from Goodwill. You GO, girl!” She laughs at her own impression and takes a sip of her own drip, careful not to mess up her carefully made-up lips.
“That’s assuming she even has friends,” I add on, earning another malicious laugh from Harper.
A girl accidentally bumps into me, trying to get through the narrow space between the glass coffee table and the couch. In the densely crowded living room, I know that a person bumping into another person should be expected, but I still feel a twist of anger as she collides with my knees. She mutters an apology, before attempting to scurry away, but it does little to stifle my annoyance. I say to Harper, intentionally loud enough for the girl to hear, “I wish people wouldn’t try to fit into spaces they know they’re too fat for.”
Harper doesn’t react. I don’t even know if the girl was fat or not. I know it wasn’t funny but it still felt good to say. I hope the clutz of a girl heard it.
Harper finishes up her cup, filling up her cheeks like a greedy squirrel. Just when her cheeks reach peak fullness, she seems to notice something behind me. She hurries to empty the beer from her cheeks, before letting out an animated burp. “Have you noticed Jakob Vogel has been checking you out, like, all night? Wait like five minutes before looking, but he’s looking pretty juicy tonight. You should go talk to him.”
“Gross. First, don’t ever use ‘juicy’ like that ever again. That made me inexplicably uncomfortable,” I reply, trying my hardest not to look at Jakob, as per Harper’s instructions. The name rings a bell and I immediately know where I know him from
Jakob Vogel sits diagonal from me in my third period. After combing through my memory for all interactions with him, I silently agrees that he does look quite ‘juicy’ on a daily basis. For the better half of sophomore year, I was obsessed. Of course, I didn’t reject all male attention of favor of waiting for him to want me. That would be stupid. Especially considering he never really noticed that he wanted me, which wasn’t that big of a deal because by then, I noticed something: he’s the type of attractive that you can find almost everywhere. That blonde hair, blue-eyed heartthrob that’s at every school, but still manages to have girls falling at his feet with a single word out of his dreamy mouth. He’s gorgeous. But he’s nothing special. But that doesn’t mean he’s not something I’d hop on if given the opportunity tonight.
“And second, I’ve never spoken to him before. What do you want me to do? Go up and break the ice by saying ‘Hey, my friend saw you looking at me. Wanna get down and dirty?’” I put on my best manly voice to imitate Jakob, earning a giggle from Harper. But as the words leave my mouth, I realize I actually want the answer to the question. This is an opportunity I may never have again: a slightly tipsy, overconfident Jakob and a slightly tipsy, overconfident me. A match made in Heaven.
She gives me a ‘duh’ look. “Um, yeah. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. He’d be so into it,” she says as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I’ll show you how to walk up to him.”
She crushes her now empty cup between her hands for absolutely no reason other than her own entertainment, then goes to throw it away. She sensually moves her hips and turns around the look at me, flashing a sultry smile in my direction. I laugh and flick her off. On Harper’s way back from the trash can, Kip Jackson stops her and strikes up a conversation, proving that her sexy act must have caught more than my own attention. I can practically see the heart-eyes radiating off of her and I’d bet money it’ll be awhile before she comes back.
It’s now or never, I tell myself.
I look behind myself and, lo and behold, there’s Jakob, looking right back at me. Well, more like looking right at my ass. I should feel objectified, but my ass counts as me, so I decide to think that he’s staring at me. He’s staring right at me. I feel a blush creeping up my neck, and it’s not from the broken air conditioning in this area of the house. I feel giddy and hope the giddiness doesn’t reach my face in the form of an embarrassing blush. If that happened, I could only hope Jakob would be nice enough to ignore it.
I tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear and wipe beads of sweat from my nose. Some of my foundation wipes off onto my hands, which I try in vain to fix by aggressively wiping them onto my jean shorts, before remembering I’m wearing white shorts and go through every cuss word starting with at the beginning of the alphabet. The beer resting in my stomach starts to feel a lot heavier than it did a few seconds before, the nerves triggering some sort of fight-or-flight response. With how things are going so far, I’m leaning more toward flight.
When he notices me walking toward him, Jakob detaches himself from his group of friends, saying something like “Hold on” with a wave of his hand. My confidence skyrockets and I decide to see how this plays out, muttering a few encouraging words to myself. His body turns to face toward me, taking on a sort of lazy confidence and I slow my walk, almost trying to mimic his cool composure.
When I reach him, the words practically fall out. “It’s crazy hot in here. How are you not even sweating?” I ask, teasingly. I kick myself for the stupid opening line, but it’s true and I find myself genuinely curious. There’s not a bead of sweat on his beautiful face. At least, not any that I can see in the dimly-lit room. I don’t expect a full-on biological explanation as to why his sweat glands aren’t as active as her’s, or anyone else’s in this room for that matter, but knowing if this is a common thing for him would be nice. And it would give me time to think of another line. One less cringey and more suggestive.
“I don’t know. Probably because I’m just naturally hot.” He flashes a blinding smile. It’s a stupid line. So stupid. But he makes it not so terrible with his insanely cute expression. His answer does nothing to satisfy my curiosity but does succeed in give me the green light for the continuation of my flirting. I allow the rest of the world to blur. The laughter coming from drunk boys, the stomach-turning suction sounds of numerous makeout sessions all throughout the room, the distinct sound of Harper’s high-pitched giggles from over near the trash can. They all melt away as I focus my attention on reeling Jakob in. Like pitching my product on Shark Tank. Except I’m the product and the entrepreneur all in one. And the sharks are just condensed into a single, slightly tipsy, attractive teenage boy.
“Well, I’d like to think of myself as naturally hot, and even I’m dying in this heat,” I joke back. The sad attempt at a response is rewarded with a few awkward seconds of silence. I panic. “Do you wanna go outside? Or at least somewhere we won’t be surrounded by a suffocating cloud of teenage odor and body heat?” I regret the last part as soon as it comes out of my babbling mouth. Teenage odor and body heat? How seductive.
I don’t know what’s come over me, but from what I can tell, Jakob’s into it. He laughs. It sounds kinda forced, but it does its job of boosting my confidence in the seemingly declining situation. If he put effort into forcing a laugh, knowing it would encourage me to move forward with this conversation, I convince myself I must be doing something right. “Yeah. Wanna sit out back?”
I say yes a bit too fast.
The scent of smoke and leaves hits me as soon as we step outside, calming me from the inside out. My clouded head slows its nervous spinning, letting me process the situation at hand. Some couple is already sitting on the back deck when we get there, doing what I hopes Jakob and I will be doing in a few minutes. Jakob clears his throat and the startled lovebirds unlock their locked lips for long enough to realize they’re expected to leave. Jakob’s head almost touches the top of the doorframe and his outward genetic perfection can be more than intimidating and it proves more than enough to nudge their exit. Them leaving frees up a wooden swing, the perfect size for two people to fit onto if both parties are okay with thighs touching and shoulders brushing. Lucky for them, I’m more than welcome to both possibilities.
It’s sometime between 11 and 12 pm and the brisk air shows for it, biting my exposed shoulders and giving me a perfect reason to press myself closer to Jakob’s warm broad shoulders. He takes the bait. Like a kitten to warm milk. I laugh thinking about it.
“Are you cold? Here,” he says, rushing to strip his jacket from his body, revealing a long sleeve shirt with the word dope written up each sleeve. I follow his movements with my eyes as Jakob uses the oldest trick in the book, wrapping his Nike windbreaker around my narrow shoulders, running his hands up and down my arms quickly for good measure. His jacket smells like sweat and failed attempts to cover the musk with heavy cologne. The scent itself somehow adds to the warmth the jacket provides, wrapping me in a cocoon of Jakob and his boyishness.
He keeps his arm wrapped around my shoulders and I rest my head on his bicep. We sit in silence for a few minutes, but I don’t feel even a touch of awkwardness. It’s the type of silence your mind clears for and you feel should be captured in a picture to put in an album of your life, not because it’s a particularly happy or special moment, but because it perfectly encapsulates what you would want others to think your life is made up of. My life in this moment seems to her like the epitome of how movies and young adult books portray teenage romances.
“Did you know that a fair number of trees are grown from acorns that squirrels have misplaced?” I ask, out of the blue. It’s only after the words leave my mouth that I realize I’m doing what I did inside: word vomit. Like from Mean Girls. I hope it would come off as cute and quirky, not frantic and weird. There’s really no way he could have known that fact; I don’t even know how I know that fact.
“What?” He replies, in the type of upturned, almost laughing voice that expresses surprise and amusement. I smile and the smile feels tight on my face because of the dryness in the air, but the smile is far from forced. All nervousness has left my body, carried away with the biting wind blowing across our tightly pressed bodies.
“You heard me. There are probably little squirrels everywhere running around, trying to search their little brains for where they put their prized nuts, which will never fi-”
He leans over and captures my lips with his. In theory, I know I shouldn’t be a fan of a boy shutting me up with something as invasive as a kiss, but I was talking about squirrel nuts and trees and I was hoping he would take that as a sign to make a move. I didn’t know where I was going with her spiel, but I’m certain it was nowhere near important as this.
We kiss. I move my hands up to his warm face, brushing my cold fingertips along the stubbly edge of his jaw. Much to my pleasure, our lips move synchronously together, as if this was our fifteenth kiss, not our first. But from the number of times I’ve imagined their lips pressing together in sophomore year, I feel that this may as well be our fiftieth kiss. It’s everything I’d hoped it would be, but I’m is sure I’ll embellish more than necessary when describing the kiss to Harper tomorrow, like I always do.
I feel my heartbeat rising exponentially as Jakob’s hands lower slowly. Before coming out to the back porch with him, I promised myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up. But the moment Jakob slides his large hands to opposite sides of my chest, cupping me over my lacy bra and earning a sigh from my puffy mouth, my hopes were through the roof. Or rather, through the canopy hovering over us, protecting us from the golden leaves falling softly in the dark. Jakob’s hands even tangle themselves in my unruly locks, but I can’t bring herself to even think about how gross her hair must feel.
I can’t imagine that this night could have gone any better. I swear I can feel tingles of happiness radiating all the way down to my toes and I hope to God that Jakob can’t feel the heavy thumps of my heart on his hands, covering my chest.
Though, even if he did, I doubt his attention could be torn from the fun he’s having under my shirt, right over the area my heart’s located.
Just as Jakob’s hands wrap around from their position on my breasts to my lower back, leaving a tingling trail of coolness, the back door swings open, jolting us both from the task at hand. Our lips detach, Jakob’s arms immediately raising as a What the fuck sort of gesture, but the What the fuck never comes out. He slowly lowers his arms when he catches sight of the person standing in the doorway, his face displaying an indecipherable emotion. I crane my body from its position facing Jakob to catch a glimpse of the person, a laugh escaping my tender mouth when my eyes land on their target. The excited hormones still race through my body, making me feel almost drunk.
“Go back inside, Mary. Get one of your friends to take you home or something,” Jakob says to the person, the nobody girl I scrutinized earlier, almost dismissively. The way he talks to her makes ,e think they know each other quite well. I find it a bit hard to associate them as anything closer than acquaintances, but it’s quite obvious they’re closer than friends. In any other case, I would assume a textbook rival exes situation, but decides from the get-go that Jakob is way too cute for someone like Mary, which is her name, apparently. It’d be somewhat of a sin if they were in any sort of romantic relationship. Just the thought itself tears another laugh from me. I quickly stifle the giggles and slaps an ice-cold hand over my mouth, as Jakob’s disapproving glare slices through me.
The girl is no happier to see Jakob than he is to see her. She scoffs loud enough to convey her annoyance and slams the door with unnecessary force behind her, before stalking in front of the couple . “You fucking asshole. You know I can’t fuckign do that! You promised, in front of mom, that you’d come with me then take me home and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I won’t let you ditch me for…,” she turns her angry expression toward me and gives me a hard look up and down my frame,“...some slut.”
Her response hits me like a slap to the face, even harsher than the lowering temperature hitting her long stretches of bare skin. It takes me a few seconds to process her words, then a few more to realize that I’m not dreaming. I find myself in such surprised state, my jaw falls open slightly. Speechless would be an understatement.
It’s not the first time I’ve encountered an opinionated little thing with a mouth too big for her own good. She’s nothing special for slamming me with insults with the impression that she’s so big and mighty for standing up to me. It’s nothing new. I’m a big girl. I’ve got tough skin.
I just didn’t expect it from her. This sad excuse of a teenage girl with absolutely no idea as to what a girl of her age and, more importantly, her attractiveness should dress like. This girl with a painfully annoying high-pitched voice and forehead big enough and oily enough to fry an egg on. This...girl. If she could even be called that.
Screw this girl, I think, finding myself digging at the appearance and flaws of the female standing in front of her.
Who does she think she is? Mary doesn’t even know me, much less have a right to judge and label me. She probably paid Jakob to take her to and get her into the party and she can’t stand that he would rather do anything else than hold up his end of whatever bargain he struck with her. She’s just a pathetic, judgemental bitch. I yank down the tank top riding up my midriff, thanks to Jakob’s wandering hands, and clench my numb fists at my sides to stifle the temper that’s known to get me in trouble, but it does nothing to calm the waves of anger surging to the surface. The only thing keeping me from saying some choice words of my own is Jakob’s obvious relationship with this girl. But Jakob is starting to matter less and less to me by the second. I feel like a ticking time bomb with no timer. Just the promise to explode.
“Get your flat ass inside or I’ll tell dad you’ve been drinking. How do you feel about not leaving the house until you’re thirty-six?”
My mouth falls open again. The heinous bitch is his sister. My eyes take a break from scrutinizing Mary’s entire exterior to dart between the apparent siblings. The comparison only adds to my confusion. And to my growing frustration.
Jakob’s muscles are visibly tensing and both of them are getting more heated by the second and my temper is only rising with their anger. If the siblings don’t share looks, they definitely share their argumentativeness.
“Then I’ll tell her you were bagging some one-time whore when you were supposed to be bringing me home to her. Remember the time she caught you with that redhead whore? Yeah? You keep acting like a fucking man-child and we’ll just see whose life ends up worse,” she says, as if she’s just won the argument. From the look on Jakob’s face when I look at him, she has. He groans and throws his head back in frustration. The tips of his ears flare bright red.
By now, I’m livid.
I focus on Mary, standing there in the light of the window, with her pudgy hands placed firmly on the muffin top created from her tight underwear, and a smug look on her hawk-like face and all I can think about is decking her across her asymmetrical face. Anything that I inflict upon Mary is completely justified, in my eyes. Or in any sane person’s eyes, for that matter. My mind turns fuzzy and my growing fury prevents me from thinking of ways to rationally deal with this situation and I get that feeling. That feeling of being squished and pulled and overwhelmed by my powerful emotions that my mind turns to mush and my vision seems to turn red. Any brain activity is just going toward the pure disbelief that there is this girl in front of my who thinks she has so much power over my life with her words and actions that she somehow thinks she deserves to stand in my way insulting me for no reason, without fear of being hurt back in some way. That I can’t do anything back to her.
She couldn’t be more out of line. She couldn’t be more wrong. She couldn’t be any more below me. She couldn’t be more of a nobody.
Jakob pathetically turns to me, not even able to look me in the eyes. “Look, Addy, I’m sorry. I really fucking am. But I gotta take my si-”
My feet find their way beneath me before he can even finish his sentence. I snap up, every part of my body visibly strained with pure fury. By the time the word sister comes out of his quivering mouth, I’ve already brushed hastily by him, leaving Jakob caught in the trail of my floral perfume, still struggling to spew out a half-assed apology. In the several steps between the bench and the entrance back inside, I make sure to stomp heavily on the hollow wooden deck. Halfway to the safety of the indoors, my attention turns from Jakob’s lack of a pair to hurting the girl in whatever way I possibly can. All the possible ways to knock Mary down to the peg where she belongs scan through my racing mind, and I want nothing more than for her to feel pain and self-consciousness and helplessness, and fast.
I can feel Mary’s beady eyes follow my figure as I clomp past her, close enough to smell Vanilla Bean Noel Bath & Body Works perfume. The tackiness of the choice of scent doesn’t escape me as the anger and cloudiness in my head only grows with each accentuated step I take.
I pull open the wooden door, stopping only for a second.
“Have fun pulling your fat ass out of that ugly dress.”
Then I slam the back door behind me.
I take deep breath when the thick heat of the densely populated house envelopes my senses, a stark change from the cold, crisp air outside. But somehow, the atmosphere inside is cooler than it was outside.
The high of my insult sticks with me for a split second. I feel on top of the world. I was able hurt her in the way she hurt me and she will spend the rest of the night dwelling on my one sentence, she hopes. If I’m lucky, my words might stick with her throughout the week. I don’t feel the slightest bit bad at the thought. Oh no, I feel the complete opposite. I feel amazing
Then I don’t. The high fades from my body, no longer a warmth spreading across my insides, but a creeping cold leaving my body, seemingly from my fingertips and toes. The high wears off just as quickly as the anger formed and I start to feel like I just watched a movie with the heartbreaking cliffhanger ending, with no promise of a sequel or closure. My mind expects some long-lasting satisfaction and pleasure, but all it gets is the feeling of loose ends that will never be tied up. I know I should feel good. I gave Mary what she had coming to her, but now all I feel is a gripping tightness in my sore chest that feels like it will never be released.
I feel like I have blue-balls.
Eventually, my mind clears itself and my focuses turn to just going home. I’m tired and emotionally drained and my feet hurt for some reason. The sensation of wetness is on my mouth and I reach my hand up to investigate. I bring my finger up to feel my mouth comes back with a splotch of blood. My lip is split. My mood worsens.
Just another way the Vogel siblings have ruined my night, I think, sour at the thought.
Putting my anger aside, I search all over the cluttered house for Harper or a clothing item of her’s, coming across a few people doing what I’d hoped Jakob and I would end up doing, and too many Nope responses to my repeated question of Has anyone fucking seen Harper?
My left buttcheek buzzes. I slide her phone, cold to the touch from the temperature outside, out of the pocket of my jean shorts and a text from my younger sister lights up the screen.
Chloe: Get home right now!! SOS!!
I would feel panicked if Chloe’s dramatic antics weren’t so common and my emotional reserve wasn’t already drained. But I know I need to get home. There’s nothing left for me at this party and, without Harper or the promise of sex, I fail to think of any reason for me to stay. Harper seems to have fallen off the face of the earth and Jakob and his sister can rot in hell for all I care.
So I walk out the front door, breath in a lungful of the fall air that somehow feels different than the air in the backyard, and start walking.
The Fatass (aka Mary Vogel)
I’m not a mean person. In fact, I won the “Biggest Heart” superlative in 8th grade. I would never insult people for no apparent reason on any normal day. But on this particular day, at that particular time of 11:51 pm, when I found Summer practically sitting on top of my brother, something just clicked inside me. And a side of myself I’ve never seen, and really don’t want to ever see again, came out.
That party was my chance. My chance to show my mom that I should have the same freedom as my brother to do the things I wanted and to hang out with the people I liked. To do the things Jakob takes advantage of on a daily basis. To be a teenager. I had been thinking about this night day in and day out for a week now. My heart would stammer at the thought of what the night may bring.
My idiot of a brother had had the liberties I’d dream of since his balls dropped. He’s been allowed to go where he wants, when he wants, with whoever he wants. Our parents have treated him like an adult since before he was even a teenager.
Me? The last time I’ve been treated like someone my age should was when I was nine and only wanted a new trampoline and some lip gloss.
I didn’t even get the lip gloss.
I can’t party at all. I can’t hang out with who I want. I can’t be anywhere, and really anywhere, past 12. I really can’t even leave the house without my parents meeting exactly who I’ll be with, receiving a full essay from me about why I even need to leave the house, and having a promise from me that I’ll have my location sharing on at all times and text them every hour to update them on my situation. Last time I left the house for something other than an errand or school was for a youth retreat. Even then, I had to beg my parents for weeks, practically at their feet, for them to even consider letting me on the excursion.
I felt like a prisoner. Like Rapunzel in that tower, guarded by a pair of wicked witches, seeing those same witches let some entitled prince enter and leave the tower whenever he pleases, all while wallowing in my own self-pity and loneliness.
When I entered highs school, I’d hoped for some sort of change in their regime. I, apparently, set my hopes way too high. My freshman year, I missed football games, dances, spirit events, outings with my friends, and even a date. All because of my unreasonably overprotective parents.
But that didn’t stop me from making the same mistake again. Last summer, I set my hopes just as high for my sophomore year. But this year, I was determined to not let those hopes die.
And this party was my key to turning those hopes into a reality.
After hearing about this upperclassmen-only party through the intricate grapevine, I was ecstatic. Despite my numerous experiences of being crushed by my parents, I still never failed to get excited at the mere thought of being a normal teenager. And what’s more teenage than a trashy house party?
Over the years, I’ve figured my parents out. Sitting at home all day with no one but them around gave me a fuck ton of time to dig into their minds. And I’ve learned that the main for my parents’ overprotectiveness is their lack of trust in my judgement skills. I would forget to fold my laundry. How do you expect to survive in the real world if you can’t even fold your damn clothes, Mary? I’d be a bit late coming home from school. Just when we build up a little trust in you, you find a way to drain it up. Think, Mary, before you act. Anything and everything I did, Michael and Anna Vogel always found a way to twist it around to reflect badly on my trustworthiness.
But then I managed to convince my parents that me going to this party and resisting all the many temptations that come along with teenage house parties would prove my ability to decipher right from wrong, therefore showing I should be allowed more freedom to make my own choices and take care of myself. That I should be allowed to live my life from here on out, if I passed the ultimate test.
Compliance came at a price. I washed the dishes for a week. I did the laundry without being asked. I washed all four of our cars without being asked. I agreed to stay with Jakob the whole night and be home by 12 am. I promised that none of my “no-good friends”, as my mom calls them, would be there to make my decisions or influence them in any way. I even let her mom pick out her outfit for the night, giving her the false sense of control over some part of her night. I didn’t have any party attired, given that I’ve never been to a party before, and I didn’t want to push my luck by asking to stop by a friend’s house or go to the mall. So my mom dressing me had many perks.
Then I went to the party.
The party itself was sort of lame, to be honest. But in my eyes, it being the first real party I’ve ever been to made it the greatest. I was nervous, but I felt alive. After Jakob disappeared into the masses within the first tenth of a second, I was free to make her own choices and talk to whoever, whenever. It was everything I’d wanted and more.
Then 11:50 pm rolled around and Jakob was nowhere to be found. My dress was starting to feel like poison ivy on my already voluptuous body as the minutes ticked by and my mom’s seemingly ancient pumps nipped at my heels like nobody’s business. I looked everywhere. Then I found him. With the most popular, bitchy girl in school basically sitting on his lap.
That’s when I snapped.
The anger I felt in that moment was like a noose around my neck, growing tighter and tighter, making me more and more light headed by the second. I wasn’t about to let this stupid bimbo ruin my night. I wasn’t about to let my imbecile brother ruin my chances of freedom by doing the things he’s been free to do for years. The entitled lovebirds were just sitting their, sucking each others’ face, with no idea of how much this night meant to me. They were just living in their own, perfect worlds, paying no mind to how detrimental their actions could be to the rest of my young adult life.
So I was nasty. I knew what Addison Holland was known for. I knew what her plans were with my brother. I knew the fear she elicited in the hearts of anyone she deem inferior to her, which was basically everyone. I hated how, in that moment, Addison was making me feel that fear, just by looking at me. I hated how she probably looked at me and felt no concern whatsoever of what I could do to her, as if...as if I was nothing compared to her. The fact that she has gone through life without a care in the world, without a hair out of place, without any concern as to the lives of those around her, made my blood boil. I looked at Addison’s perfect head of wavy blond hair and could only imagine curling my fist in those locks and ripping them out with all my might. I wanted to do anything I could to feel some type of power over Addison. To let her know that she was not invincible, no matter how popular or pretty she was. I wanted to hurt her for thinking she was invincible enough to ruin my night without any repercussions.
So I did just that. And by the look on Addison’s face, I succeeded. I saw the hurt and surprise in her eyes and knew I’d proved her wrong. I killed two birds with one stone: I’d threatened her brother, getting him to agree to take me home and solidifying my chances of freedom with my parents, and knocked Addison down to where she belonged. A place where she probably didn’t think she would ever see. Addison’s world was rocked in the same moment mine came together.
I felt like I was on top of the world. While Addison was walking away, I felt invincible.
Then Addison did what she does best. She was mean. She grasped onto whatever insecurity she thought I had and exploited it. Addison just couldn’t stand not being the one with the upper hand and did whatever she could to regain her leverage. She was mean for no other reason to be mean, then she left.
Addison made a damn good guess as to what my biggest insecurity was.
Then Jakob drove me home and dropped me off, practically pushing me out of the car into a ditch, right on curfew, before driving back into the night toward some other social event, no doubt chasing what Addison was about to provide before she intervened.
So now I’m is sitting on my bed, fully dressed, replaying Addison’s exact words, as I remember them. And crying. Thoughts are racing and anger is brewing and the happiness from my first taste of freedom is gone. Addison had no right to do what she did. She can’t just go through life doing this to people, putting them down and forcing the idea that they will never be as important as she is. Addison has gone through her whole life getting exactly what she wants, when she wants, with no worries of how it may backfire or affect others. It’s time about time that change.
There’s a tiny part of me that wishes I had never said anything at all. I could have stood there and let myself be crushed and silenced by Addison’s intimidating self. But I didn’t. I didn’t give Addison what she wanted or expected, and no one should ever have to. I didn’t have to do what I did. But I made that decision as soon as I set my eyes on Addison and I have to follow through with what I started. I can’t let Addison get the last word again. Someone has to put Addison in her place.