An hour later I find myself in English not knowing whether I want to look back at the clock or not. I knew for sure he was in my class now since I sort of deliberately came to class early to check whether he'd come in or not. He did, and surely enough he waltzed all the way to the back of the room where he sat.

Mr. Warner kept lecturing on about some literary devices that were being used in this story we were reading. I tried to listen to what was going on, but I just kept replaying what had happened at lunch. I felt paranoid all of a sudden, like this guy had a hidden motive behind his actions. Crazy, I know, but I couldn't shake the feeling.

Towards what I presumed to be near the end of the class, though, I caved—I just had to look back, just had to know if it was really his eyes I felt on the back of my neck or if my mind was playing tricks on me.

I turn my head back to find that the bell was going to ring in one minute. I made the mistake, however, of having my eyes lock on him instead of the clock. If he hadn't been looking at me before, he certainly was now.

Who was the creep again?

The bell rang and I did my absolute best to grab my stuff and get the hell out of there before the awkwardness in the room rose to a dangerous level.

xxxxxx

"Does spaghetti for dinner sound good?" Mom asked as soon as she entered through the door, some take-out bags already in hand.

I walked over to help.

"Sure," I said.

"Great, 'cause I wasn't going to go back out again."

I placed the bags on the counter while my mom grabbed us plates from the cupboard. We didn't have a dining table, so we just ate most of our meals either on the counter or on the couch. It didn't bother me, but she always talked about how one of these days she'd invest in a table. She said it just wasn't a proper family dinner without a dirty table to leave all the trash on.

"So how was school?" She asked before sending a forkful of spaghetti into her mouth.

I shrugged.
"Surely it wasn't as grotesque as usual," she said with a smile, pointing her now naked fork at me.

Most people probably didn't learn how to be sarcastic from their mothers, but I did.

"No, Mom, it was absolutely exquisite: the academic curriculum is just riveting."

She shook her head at me and I couldn't help but return the gesture.

I was probably on better terms with my mom than most teenagers. But that was because there wasn't really anybody else in the picture. It was just me and her: the typical absentee father scenario.

He left when I was two. It's a subject my mom doesn't like to touch upon much. As for me, well, I just got over the fact I'd never know him.

Life went on, you know. Like it always does.

Just then I got some text from Myra about this rave she wanted to go to later that night and if I could take her.

Rave on a Monday night? I replied and went back to eating.

"Oh, I almost forgot! Dave might be able to hook you up with a job," my mom told me.

Dave was the guy my mom was dating. She refused to call him her boyfriend despite the fact that they'd been exclusive for a couple of months. Sometimes he'd come over and we'd have dinner and whatnot, but most of the time she went over to his condo because he had a Jacuzzi. He was also a manager at the local TJ Maxx.

"Sweet," I said. "When will you know for sure?"

"In a week. Apparently one of the cashier girls got pregnant and quit, so as soon as everything is cleared with her you can apply."

Another text from Myra: Rhiannon's throwing one in her ginormous basement. Let's go!

Seeing as I had nothing better to do that evening, I said sure.

"Awesome," I said, clearing my plate and sticking it in the sink. "Hey, can I have the car keys tonight? Myra wants to hang out."

My mom knew Myra was my girlfriend or whatever. She just didn't know the reasons why; and, honestly, neither did I.

"Sure, hun—go ahead and grab them, they're in the side pocket of my purse."

"Thanks, Mom."

"Wait, your homework is done, right?" she asked while I ran to my room to get a jacket.

"Of course," I told her once I had come back to the living room/kitchen. I wasn't a real delinquent despite dabbling in their tendencies. "Don't wait up."

"Never do, hun. Never do."

xxxxx

Everything at Rhiannon's is the same as it is at every other party/rave/kickback that a kid from our school has: the same faces, the same drinks, the same drugs, the same lust and degeneration. I never seem to particularly like being at any of these events, yet there I am, another dislocated body, time after time. Still, it's better than nothing, I suppose; better than boredom.

I had arrived with Myra but quickly lost her to the crowd, to the girls and boys pulling at her arms, mouths whispering or exclaiming words into her ears. It was always a strange realization for me to know that no matter how poor her reputation was, it simultaneously made her infamous in the most glamorous of ways; as if her very existence were a rebellion to the universe, one that everyone secretly longed to be a part of.

Except for me.

Dance music wasn't my favorite, but I found the beats currently playing infectious. I briefly wondered if Gavin or Felix were roaming around somewhere in the vicinity and if they had brought along any treats with them. There was plenty of alcohol available, sure, but for some reason it didn't appeal to me just then. I wanted something more: an out-of-body experience, to lose myself and find myself at the same time. It wasn't a desire I felt frequently, but when it did strike it struck violently.

I texted them both about their whereabouts, hoping they were already here. A couple of hours passed without a reply. I grew tired of the crowd, of people passing by without a single glance because their eyes were glassy and mine weren't. A girl approached me once to ask if I had seen Myra. I told her no. I felt more out of place than usual. I went over to the liquor table and had a couple of shots. My blood felt warmer after a while, and I found that comforting. My eyes weren't glassy, no, but now they had a bit of a pale shine. Just enough to make me forget that I cared.

It was around one that Myra drunkenly reappeared from the shadows. Her eyes fixated on me, she staggered to where I was, grabbing onto random limbs to help her make it. When she reached me she fell into my sitting lap.

"Aaaaaaaaash-ton! Y-you're here!"

I wondered how much alcohol you had to drink to forget who you arrived with. Whatever the answer, Myra had evidently found it.

"Like you care?" I jested.

Her face scrunched up dramatically, like a four-year-old denied of cake after having waved it around in front of them.

"J-j-jerrrrk, of course…course…"

She turned her head away from me and hurled. I didn't particularly care until I realized some of her puke had found its way onto my shoe.

"Ugh, Myra let's get you to a toilet or sink or something."

I tried to stand up, but she wouldn't get off of me. So I tried to stand her up first, but her legs were significantly more wobbly than before, and she fell to the floor just in time to throw up again.

Honestly, I was a bit in shock of how wasted Myra was because her tolerance was high as hell. What'd she do, drink an entire bottle of Smirnoff? Two? Is that even humanly possible?

She threw up a third time and people began to take notice of the stench. Their glassy eyes turned towards us, Myra on the floor and me standing beside her, surrounded by puddles of puke, condescension strewn across their faces. It was common courtesy not to get fucked up to the point of one-to-one assistance, an unwritten rule that Myra had broken tonight.

For a moment, I wondered why, but then it passed and I didn't want to know.

To avoid further humiliation, I got down on my knees and picked her up bridal-style. I saw Rhiannon in the crowd of judging faces and asked her where the restroom was. She pointed up the stairs and said second door to the left. I thanked her and immediately walked in that direction, praying to God that I could reach it before my arms gave out.

I wasn't the definition of strong, to say the least.

Myra throws up as soon as we get to the bathroom. I hold her hair back so it doesn't get in the way.

"Shit, Myra, how much did you have to drink?"

She wipes away the residual saliva from her lips, slouches further over the bowl.

"Enough to have sex with Erik Burbank—gross," she said in a moment of clarity.

I had no idea who Erik Burbank was.

"I see."

Silence.

She looked up from the porcelain bowel and turned back to look me in the eyes. I'd never seen her look so helpless.

"Ashhh, I'm…I'm sorry."

What for? I wanted to say, but held back my tongue.

I sighed.

"Don't worry about it," I told her for some reason.

She smiled slowly, staring into the toilet. "That's what you said that night, too—do you…do you remember? Never would have thought…"

And then she passed out.

I cleaned her up, flushed the toilet. I debated attempting to pick her up on my own again but soon felt the vague ache in my arms from the last trip. So I went back into the basement to find one of Myra's boytoys—some jock from the varsity football team—and asked him to help me carry her to my car.

Sometime between the twenty minute drive from Rhiannon's to my place I realized I wouldn't be able to carry her up to my apartment. Instead, I ran up to grab some blankets and a pillow and ran back down to the car. Myra was still fast asleep in the backseat, now curled up like a cat on someone's lap. Careful not to disturb her too much, I opened the car door to slip the pillow under her head and throw one of the blankets over her torso. When that was done I got into the passenger seat, reclined it, used the remaining blanket as a pillow, and passed out myself.

Funny how one of the few times you feel most at peace is in those few milliseconds right before you lose consciousness. I wonder what that's about.