I wish I could say I didn't know how it was that I ended up here, but being ninety-eight percent sober, I remember every detail. It was painful enough going through it the first time around, so I don't really want to sit here and recall it all, only to relive through it again. I'm already sitting in this strange hell, consisting of cut out snowflakes, glitter, white and blue crepe paper, classmates I saw mere hours ago and an over eager DJ with a questionable taste in music, all set in the school gymnasium. Ladies and gentlemen, the Winter Formal.
"Hey dude, you look like you're having fun," Darwin said, sitting down in the seat next to me. His (new) girlfriend followed after him, still holding his hand as she pulled the chair closer and sat down.
"Oh yes, just a fantastic time," I said, taking a sip of my punch just so I could do something with my hands.
"Where's your date?" asked the girlfriend, who went by the name of Clarissa (but I kept calling her Michelle for some reason. Like, I don't even know where that came from. She's a nice girl though, if not just a little shallow. Or a lot.).
I shrugged, "Dunno." But I was getting antsy because she had our flask hidden in her purse, and I was ready to hit that up about three hours ago.
"Did I tell you that you look so cute together? Your tie matches her dress perfectly!" Clarissa continued.
"Yeah, that was the plan," I mumbled, looking down at my purple satin tie, courtesy of my 'date.'
Darwin laughed, and he leaned over to say something to Clarissa as I looked out over the floor and surveyed the scene. The DJ had some awkward, dated dance song on, one of those songs that nobody really knew how to dance to (or listened to in the past five years), so not many people were. Since it was still pretty early, most people were just mingling anyway.
"Dude, you talk to Wendy yet?" Darwin asked me.
I snorted, "You mean, did I meet her piece of man meat yet? Yeah. I think he suffered brain trauma as a child or something. There's something off about his face."
Darwin laughed, "Oh my god, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought that!"
"You guys are so mean," Clarissa pouted. "I thought he was nice. He's very buff."
"He looks like he's thirty," I pointed out.
Dane showed up right then, balancing a plate of cookies and his punch cup. Jonine was right behind him, her plate piled high with mini cupcakes. "Hold on for two seconds!" she glowered, as both Darwin and I started reaching for her food. We waited until she sat down next to me.
"I lost my date," said Dane as he sat on the other side of Jo, a cookie in his hand, "I was standing over there before, but I don't feel like looking for her so I'm hoping she'll see us sitting here."
"That's what I'm doing," I said.
"Speaking of dates, did you guys meet Wendy's?" Jo asked.
Darwin grinned, "We were just talking about that."
"And what did you think?" she asked, trying to sound innocently inquisitive.
All of us, not including Clarissa snorted. Even Dane, and he wasn't even here for the first part of the conversation.
"Right?" Jo let loose, "What the heck? You guys rained hell on me when I had my brief fling with Louis, but Wendy's with this meathead on steroids and thinks it's normal? Does anyone else think that it's weird when college guys are still chasing after high school girls when they're in college? Don't tell her I said this, but her date just comes across as a little skeevey."
Darwin reached over and grabbed another mini cupcake, "Maybe you should go talk to her."
"Why? So we could get in another huge fight? We just started being friends again."
"Girls are whack," Dane said. "Where's your date, Jo?"
Jonine frowned, "Backed out last minute."
"Just hang out with us," Darwin said as Clarissa nodded empathically.
"You should've told me," I said, "I would've taken you instead of the lousy date I have now."
"Wait, who's your date?"
"This dumb girl."
"That's real classy, Lucky," a voice said, over my head. "Stop being a jerk."
"Oh," I said in a flat tone, without looking up, "Speak of the devil."
"Hi! I'm Jonine," Jo said, "You look really familiar, but I don't think we've met before."
Tomo leaned across me to shake her hand, putting her cup down on the table in the process, "Hi, I'm Tomo! Lucky's date."
Dane snapped his fingers and point, "Pretend pregnant girl. You're her."
Tomo let out a peal of forced laughter, "Yeah, that's me," she said, pretending to be sheepish. She sat herself in my lap as she reached for a cookie.
"Tomo, what the hell?"
"There's no place else to sit and I want a cookie." She turned around and flashed a toothy grin, "Hi Darwin! Hey Mich-" I quickly jammed a finger into Tomo's side, "-Clarissa!" Ignoring Clarissa's slight frown, Tomo went back to her cookie.
The song that was playing clumsily segued into a popular slow song, and Clarissa tugged at Darwin's hand, "I love this song! Can we dance?" Without looking back, they made their way to the dance floor. I shoved at Tomo until she slid off of my lap into the seat that Darwin formerly occupied, just as this skinny blond girl tottered up to us in her heels.
"There you are," Dane smiled and walked around the table to take her hand. "Dance?" She nodded and they too went off to the dance floor.
Which left me sitting between Jo and Tomo.
"Ladies," I said, after a moment of silence. "I like how they said that you could hang out with them, but then they just walk off like that."
Jo smiled, "Oh well."
"Drink?" Tomo asked, sliding her purse towards me under the table.
"Fuck yeah." I glanced around, once, before pulling the flask out and pretended to take a sip from my drink before lowering it to my lap to spice it up. Tomo didn't even try to hide it as she gave herself a liberal dose.
"Honestly," I said, "The only reason why I let you come is because you'd be like my walking pocket. Jo, you want any?"
She shook her head.
"You sure? Because this dance sucks. I don't understand why you people get so excited over these things."
Jo leaned on her elbows, watching our peers as they swayed, which was our acceptable form of slow dancing. "They're fun. When or if the music gets good, it'll be more fun."
"Hmm. If you say so."
"I like your dress!" Tomo chirruped, leaning over me so Jonine could hear her.
"Oh, thank you! I like your dress too, it's adorable! I really like the color and the cut really suits you- and it's so cute that you got Lucky to wear a matching tie."
"Thanks! It's super cute, right? I saw it last minute and bought it for him because it was too perfect to pass up."
I sighed and leaned back in my chair to nurse my drink as Jo and Tomo leaned over me further to see who could out compliment who.
Tomo and Jo had moved on to talking about hairstyles and I was ready to make another run at the punch bowl so I wouldn't be drinking straight vodka. And I had zero interest in hair straitening tips. That was about when the song switched to yet another strange pop song from another era and everybody walked off the dance floor. Darwin and Clarissa immediately came back to the table, along with everyone else.
"Hey, look who we bumped into," Dane said, his date's hand latched firmly to his elbow.
Simon and Cricket came around from behind them, hand in hand. "Hey, you guys see Wendy's date? Guy is on steroids!" Simon said.
"Dude, we were just talking about that," said Darwin.
Tomo smiled up at everybody and shifted her gaze over. "Hi, I'm Tomo."
"Hey, we've met," Cricket said, attempting a friendly smile. Simon tilted his head as he nodded hello, looking like he was thinking hard.
"I've seen you before…"
"She was the girl who pranked Lucky hard that one time," Dane said, "Pretended to be preggers."
"Oh, I remember that! That was awesome!"
Tomo tried to laugh it off to hide her cringe, and I leaned over, "Sucks, doesn't it?" I whispered.
"Whatever, I can deal."
I laughed in her face, and got up. "I'm getting another drink, you want another?"
Tomo downed the rest of her cup in one gulp and passed it over to me.
"Anybody else?" I pointed to the rest of the group and left before anyone could answer. At the punch table, I helped myself to another cookie and leisurely took my time spooning punch into my cups- seriously though, who gets a ladle that's wider than the lips on the cups? Did they not realize how much harder it is to pour liquid into them without spilling it all over your hand?
Wendy sidled up to me, her beefy gorilla date nowhere in sight. "Hey, Lucky, I didn't get a chance to tell you this before, but you and your date are so adorable together. Who's she again? She's really cute."
I sighed, carefully spooning punch into Tomo's cup. "She's like, a good family friend, almost like a cousin. So no. She's no one."
Wendy frowned, "That's disappointing." She lowered her voice and stepped closer to me, "Is it because you're not over Cricket?"
"No!" I snorted, "I mean, definitely not. I'm over her."
Wendy gave me a look. "Are you sure? Do you guys even talk anymore?"
"No," I admitted, "Not really. So how can I still like her? We've effectively stopped communicating."
"Maybe you're just lacking closure-"
"Oh no," I let out a bitter snort of laughter, "I have all the closure I need. We were never meant to happen."
Wendy looked over my shoulder to look over at the table. "I guess. Though I have to say, when she and Simon broke up for those two weeks, I really thought she was gonna run to you."
I looked up in surprise, fumbling with the ladle as I set it down against the bowl. When that had happened, I can't say I didn't entertain that idea in my head, but I stayed well away from Cricket. And Simon, since all he did was try to find people to commiserate with. In fact, I stayed the hell away from everyone then because all everyone was talking about was Cricket and Simon.
"We even had money on it," Wendy continued. "Nobody even guessed that they would get back together."
"Who the fuck," I started to say but trailed off. "Can you bitches not bet on shit that has to do with me?"
"Dane started it, not me!" Wendy laughed. "Anyhow, I'm glad you showed up today, and not parking anyone's cars…"
"Psh, if the school paid me, I'd do it again," I said. "Bet that Wes guy would tip me this time around," I punched my palm in a pseudo-threatening manner.
We hung around the punch table some more until Wendy's date showed up, and we tried to talk some more until it just got too awkward since I had absolutely nothing to say to that guy, and that was when I made my exit.
"Took you long enough," Tomo said, plucking her cup from my hand.
"Hey, I'm gonna go see if this guy has any decent music," Jonine said as she got up. She stalked over to the DJ.
As the conversation continued around us, Tomo and I made our concoctions under the table in a not very subtle manner. Simon looked over at us from across the table, sitting up in his seat to try to see what we were doing.
"You guys doing a science project or something over there?" he asked.
"Sure, why not," I said, as Tomo tightened the cap and slipped the flask back into her purse. "Have to make this bearable somehow," I muttered.
Darwin shook his head, in clear view of our actions, "You keep acting like someone has a gun to your head."
"No shit," I said, tasting my new and improved punch, "You think I would've come if I didn't have to?"
Clarissa looked between us, confused. "Why not?"
To answer her question, the music suddenly came to a stop and a loud, piercing buzz was heard for a moment as the mic was turned on. Wendy was standing in front of the DJ booth. She squinted, shielding her eyes with the note cards she held in one hand as the spotlight was suddenly turned on. "Hello?" she blew experimentally in the mic, and flinched as feedback came through the speakers and we all yelled in outrage. "Sorry bout that! Hey, hi! Sorry to interrupt you all, but again, I wanted to thank you all for coming to this years Winter Formal and I hope everybody's voted for their choice King and Queen, and if you haven't, please do so soon, we have to start tallying it up! The ballot box is by the doors, if you didn't notice, so… yeah! Remember to vote! We'll announce the winners as soon as we can, thank you!" Wendy smiled brightly and made the 'cut' motion with her hand so they would turn off the spot light as the music started up again. She kept motioning, and when nobody turned off the light, Wendy just stomped away and joined Jo, who was apparently writing up her own play list (she had a pen and a sheet of paper in front of her).
"Lucky for King!" Darwin suddenly whooped.
"I fucking hate you," I said.
"Vote for Lucky!" Simon and Dane began to trumpet as well.
"Why don't you want to be King?" Dane's date asked me.
Cricket smiled at me, "You should just accept it, your majesty."
I frowned and gulped down some juice.
Originally, Darwin was one of the original nominees for King, but he then began a campaign where he vowed that every vote for him would be a vote for me, and it got to the point where they just changed the ballots where they put my name instead of his (though all it really took was promising Wendy they'd all help this time around), despite the fact that I wasn't even an original candidate. I have to admit, as far as pranks go, I had no idea Darwin was capable of such elaborate evil before this. I'm gonna have to do something seriously over the top to get back at him.
And this is the sole reason why I had to be here. Also the reason why I brought Tomo along, since as a potential 'King,' I received two free tickets to the dance. Woo hoo. That, and she heard Darwin mention it and she practically begged me to take her as my date since it was assumed that I wouldn't be able to find another. Unfortunately, she was right, but then again it's not like I tried. I'm sure if I did, it'd be a different story.
"Wait, I don't go to school here, am I allowed to vote?" Tomo asked, "I wanna vote for Lucky!"
"Should be," Clarissa said, "I don't go here either but I voted for Lucky."
"I hate all of you," I said.
With a delighted squeal, Tomo took off towards the ballot table, surprisingly agile for a girl in four inch heels. If anything, my only moment of pride was earlier, when we were standing next to each other and I realized that she wasn't taller than me, even with her crazy shoes. Of course, Tomo had to combat that moment by loudly proclaiming how happy I must be now that puberty finally hit, but whatever. Tiff had attempted to embarrass me by taking pictures of us before we headed out of the apartment, but that only provided proof that I will now always be taller than Tomo no matter what.
"Oh dude, imagine if Jo ends up getting voted Queen? That'd be hilarious," Darwin said. "Remember when she liked you?"
"You're acting as if I'm definitely gonna be King."
"We're like, eighty percent sure you will be," Dane smirked.
I grumbled to myself some more and then looked over to the dance floor and where the DJ was. Jonine and Wendy were still there, probably taking over the music selection. Meanwhile, Wendy's date hovered awkwardly behind them.
More general chit chat was had, and when Tomo came back, I looked up at her as she stood next to my chair. The music changed as Jo's and Wendy's mix kicked in, and the entire hall practically cheered in unison and people headed towards the dance floor as a giant horde. Dane's date practically pulled him out of his seat.
"Time to play?" Tomo smiled down at me, her grin slightly feral. "I wanna dance."
I found myself smiling right back, my cup already empty. I loosened my tie, shrugged off my jacket and started to roll up my sleeves. Before you think I'm becoming dependent on alcohol, well, it's true. Tiff actually caught me liquoring up before some compulsory National Honor Society thing where I was supposed to be doing something, and she actually ordered Linx to tackle me and hold me to the ground while she yelled at me. So, that was the last time I drank just for the sake of making something less painful, and that was months ago. Alcoholism: averted. Now I just drink socially like a real functioning adult.
"Let's not get any more drunker than this, I don't wanna get kicked out," I said. "And I guess I should still be standing when they announce who's King and shit."
"Ha, you do care," Tomo laughed.
"No, I really don't. I just don't wanna get caught," I said. As Tomo looped her arm through mine, I headed towards the dance floor, behind my friends. Maybe I'll even accidentally make out with one of them again. I hope not. Oh god, I hope not.
Tomo laughed and suddenly darted over to where everyone else was already dancing, and pulled me into the circle.
And then we fade to black. No, not we as in Tomo and I- we didn't black out or anything. I literally meant, fade to black.
Now imagine in your head, a nostalgic song, be it an eighties hit or one of today's current mix which encapsulates the ideas, dreams and youth of today's generation. Either that or some ridiculous one hit wonder from the nineties.
Got it? Good, because the real epilogue starts now, and we're doing it old school:
The darkness fades into the first picture, which is one of me at my most charming. Face at three quarters, my eyes looking directly at the camera, a little teeth with my grin. Actually, no wait, that's boring. We'll choose the image of me getting punched in the face (the first time around), but like, four or five frames after Cole's fist first connected with my eye so my face looks all messed up. Awesome. Possibly the one thing that correctly summarizes these past several months most effectively.
In yellow subtitles under it, it reads:
Lucky definitely does not have any more feelings for Cricket, and to prove it, went on a date with Clarissa's friend. They didn't go on a second one, because Lucky thought she was too ditzy. Even though his friends assured him that he would, he wasn't voted Winter King at the dance.
That douchebag Louis was crowned instead.
The next picture is of Darwin in the middle of a soccer game. He's looking over his shoulder, peering slightly above the camera, possibly caught mid conversation and about to break out into laughter. His epilogue goes as such:
Christopher 'Darwin' continued going out with Clarissa for a couple more months, but then they broke up over something trivial. By then, winter was close to over, and Darwin, still pissed that Louis was voted Winter King, began to lobby full time for the title of Prom king for himself just to make sure that douchebag didn't win anything else.
Lucky is still planning an intricate prank as a form of revenge, and Darwin knows it; however, he lives in fear because he doesn't know when it's going to happen.
Tomo was next. Let's slap up a slutty picture of her, since that's the only kind of pictures she had. Maybe we can picture that time when she was making fun of me and holding her own boobs towards me that one time. OR we could choose that really gross moment when we were sitting around waiting for the train and she was wiping her snot all over my shoulder and she's just a giant hot mess.
Tomo never thought that pregnant jokes were funny anymore. Which meant that Lucky kept making them, much to her chagrin. She disappeared for several months after the dance, having been caught being away from home by her mom and was subsequently grounded for an undisclosed period of time.
She liked to text Lucky to complain even though she knew he had to pay per text, that jerk.
We'll double up with a picture of Wendy and Jo from the dance, pretending they were still best friends as they hugged each other for the camera. Wendy's ending comes first, and then fades away to show Jo's.
After the dance, Wendy never again mentioned that weird pile of muscle she brought as a date. She never went out with him again because she too thought there was something off about him.
Jonine rejoined the original lunch table crew, and despite the fact that she went out with him, refused to join in on the Louis bashing. Apparently, their separation was amicable, even though none of her friends liked to believe that. She didn't win Winter Formal Queen.
Wendy and Jo were never as close as they were in the beginning, as their friendship breakup was one of the worst in the history of the school.
Dane gets his own spot. His picture is one from a while back, from when we were at the club for his sister's birthday party. He's grinning in the foreground, slightly out of focus, and his sister, who's unaware that she's in the picture, is turned away.
Dane's sister is still really, really hot. No, seriously, she's hot. And a dancer.
Simon's picture is of him looking kinda stoned. He's trying to hide the cigarette in his right hand and he's holding up his left in attempt to block the camera and it looks like a white blob since the flash is on.
Simon is still dating Cricket, even though it's become routine for them to break up for days at a time only to get back together. It's gotten to the point where people just roll their eyes whenever something happens.
To everybody's surprise, it's Simon who's unwilling to separate for good, despite his old reputation.
Naturally, Cricket is up next. She's looking right at the camera, a tiny smirk on her face as she holds up her own camera as if threatening to take the photographer's picture.
Cricket started staying after school for tutoring sessions, which some people say is the reason why she's been trying to break up with Simon. Either because her tutor is some guy she developed a crush on or a number of reasons against Simon, who's not known for his boyfriend qualities.
Other people say it's because she still harbors some feelings for Lucky, but for some unknown reason will never act upon them.
If we mention Cricket, I suppose Cole gets a one too. His picture is from the same one of me getting hit, except it's a close up on his face, all red and enraged with spittle flying everywhere.
Cole is still a rich asshole with aggression problems. Lucky and his sister saw him at the grocery store once, and he wisely walked away.
That's right bitch, just walk away.
My sister comes up next, and she's sitting near the edge of the roof on top of an unknown building, looking pensively towards the sunset. It's actually a nice picture of her since she's usually glaring or giving a really fake, forced smile when the camera's in her face.
Tiff still hides things from her brother. She swears she tells him everything, it's just that he's not listening or doesn't care at the moment. She took a semester off from school to work a full time job as an office assistant while working as a waitress at night while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life.
Even though pencil skirts reportedly make her ass look fabulous, she doesn't like the business casual look, though most of her resentment comes from having to buy a new wardrobe with the money she intended to hide from Lucky.
The picture of Linx is an actual polaroid that's tacked to his door- he's making this ridiculous 'I'm going to eat you' face at this giant pile of chicken wings. Now I want chicken wings because they look delicious.
Chester, a.k.a. Linx, out of nowhere, decided to go back to school and finish up college. He still works at Jinx's uncle's garage as a mechanic from time to time, if only to dick around and hang out. It still weirds out all of his friends when they catch him studying or doing homework.
He is a huge fan of pencil skirts.
I guess Jin deserves his own ending as well; his image is from when we went to the shooting range and he's looking all serious and shit.
After continuing to hook up with numerous girls and being dragged to the gym by Linx, Jin was still depressed. Still hung up on his ex, he took off for a month to Japan and stayed with family. When he came back, he declared himself cured.
Except whenever he went out drinking, which he would get extremely melancholy and sigh about his lost love, to everybody's discomfort.
Even though we haven't seen these two in a while, if ever, Sabo and Gabe also, for some reason, have their pictures in here. Their pictures are some standard shot of them leaning up against Gabe's car, chilling out as if they were at some import show.
Gabe is no longer failing college, and is back valeting at that hotel. On occasion, he calls Lucky to see if he could get his Friday shift covered.
Sang-Ook, or Sabo as his friends call him, is still out there ruining some other poor, hapless innocent's life.
And of course, who could forget Celeste? Her character picture would be from when I first saw her in that dingy apartment, sitting on that gross couch with unfocused eyes and a vague smile. The right balance of beauty and crazy.
After being blocked from Jin's phone, Celeste was never directly seen again, though the members of the two apartments claimed to have seen her hanging out in various coffee shops and around the streets. They all go out of the way to avoid her; Linx once told a story of how he shoved himself into a fogged up freezer since he was caught in a dead end aisle.
The finale consists of Linx's cat. Yes, the cat. It'd just be a giant montage of pictures of this fat sack because everybody loves cat pictures. Everybody. Don't you dare try to deny it either.
Linx's cat, who kinda had a name but doesn't anymore, or at least not one that everyone can agree upon ever since they stopped using 'Mr. Fluffy,' got stuck and seemingly lost in an overturned cardboard box.
It is still stuck in that box today.
And there you have it. The end. Roll credits. Blast the theme song. Big thanks to me, myself and I. This wouldn't have been made possible without me, me and me. I hope you enjoyed this experience because if you did, it was at my expense. You're welcome, motherfuckers.
A.N.: And that, my friends, is the real end. Admittedly, this epilogue was just me being self-indulgent, as usual, and I don't like it very much but I don't feel like writing it over. Thanks to everybody for sticking it out- it's been such a weird 5+ years (holy shit, yes, I've been working on this on/off for that long). I may be rewriting all of this in hopes to perhaps making this into something more legit. Feels weird to admit that I would want to publish something like this since it seems like such a faraway possibility, but I do. One day perhaps. It's been quite the trip.
I'll probably continue writing, but I don't know if I'm ever going to post on fp again. I feel old on this site, haha. I've already worked on a few short stories for fun here and there as I'm not bored of the characters either. But I am seriously thinking of fixing this up for reals, in which case, you would all be the first to know if real publishing ever happens or if I just end up going the self-publishing route. You'd all buy this for $2.99 right? Haha. Anyway, thank you all again.
Please feel free to find me on lj (narkoleptik), as that I post a lot about writing, have drawings of Lucky and co. and other things (even short stories). I'll even be cool if you feel like emailing me at lainie020 at yahoo dot com. I feel like I made a connection with a lot of you and I'd like to keep it, because really, in the beginning I only wanted to finish this because I told you people I would and I didn't wanna let any of you down. Trust me, you're all awesome.
See you around the internet, I hope. :D
Thanks: Salt and Vinegar Pringles, RandomSilentReader, written, liminalzest, Aero Faerie Extraordinaire, Zephyr-wings, … Rabbit
FakeFiction: Seriously dude, please look up the word 'capitulate' in the dictionary. You're killin' me, Smalls.