I can't believe I ate the whole thing. But sure enough, here I am, crouched over a toilet bowl. I'm pretty sure I've vomited up the whole contents of my stomach, but I still feel queasy. I keep gagging and nothing's coming out; I feel like crap. It was just a dare, a stupid dare. I thought I was being courageous, honestly. They were so cocky when they were handing it to me, smiling wickedly and laughing. What was I supposed to do? Back out? Be a scaredy-cat? Hell to the No. Not in front of Loraine. Ah, Loraine, with her long Auburn hair and sparkling hazel eyes. She's beautiful and smart, but she's also popular. This party was a chance for me to prove to her that there is more to me than meets the eye; show her the man behind the nerd. So much for that.
We have this thing that's pretty much famous at my school. It's called the Big H. Apparently it's called that because the only kid to ever eat the whole thing ended up in hospital. It's become a bit of a party tradition now. Birthday's, Christmas', Pool Party's, it doesn't matter. There always seems to be some idiot that tries to conquer the big H. This time, the idiot was me. I was horrified when it was my name that they called out. I was just minding my own business, on a couch over in the corner, when I heard a loud 'Darren'. Turns out they'd only invited me to try and make me eat it.
I was a little surprised to say the least, jumping and spilling my coke on the couch next to me. Before I had comprehended what was happening, there was a huge sandwich being handed to be and I was being led to a table. I almost backed out, and in hindsight I probably should have, but then I saw her. She was standing close to the table, watching with big, worried eyes. "I'm sorry!" she mouthed. She knew about it, and she invited me, and I still can't stop liking about her. God, being a teenage boy sucks.
I took a deep breath, and prepared myself for what was to come. By now everyone had gathered around and was staring at me, there was no backing out now. I picked up the sandwich, careful not to let anything fall from it. I could see all sorts of different things poking out of the sides of the sandwich. Lettuce, chocolate, a bunch of different meats, vegetables and sauces, but what really made this special was the chilli peppers. They're local to our area, and can be lethal in large doses. They aren't much bigger that a 20 cent coin, but don't let that fool you. Many people are disappointed by its appearance, but their minds are changed as soon as the little fire-filled bud touched their tongue. On this particular sandwich, there are at least three. Strategically hidden, they sneak up on the consumer and before you know it; your mouth is on fire.
I brought the sandwich to my mouth, ignoring the taunts coming from all around me, and took a bite. At first it wasn't so bad, I almost felt lucky. Maybe they forgot to put the chilli's in. Maybe I was safe. I chewed the first bite slowly, head bowed, not making eye contact with anyone. I could feel Loraine's intense gaze burning into the top of my head. I had to do this, I had to impress her.
The next few bites went through okay. I tried not to focus on the taste, willing myself not to throw up there and then. I could feel things rough and dry, something was dripping out the bottom of the sandwich, and there were things squirting and popping. It was horrible, or so I thought. I took another bite, my confidence gaining slightly. Everyone on the table was staring at me, some whispering. Mostly, they just looked shocked. I smiled a little to myself and bit down on the bit of sandwich in my mouth, and then I felt it.
I don't know how to describe it honestly. It was like my mouth was on fire, in a furnace that was thrown into a volcano which was lodged in the deepest pits of hell. It was hot, very hot. I could feel the heat spreading through my mouth, the juice from the chilli sliding down my throat and making me swallow involuntarily. My face was surely the colour of a tomato by now, and there was already sweat dripping down my forehead. I chewed again, the heat multiplying. And again, and then again until it was easy enough to swallow the bite down. I chanced a look at Loraine, who had a look of boredom on her face, but the concern behind her eyes wasn't hidden as well as she might have thought.
It was that, and that alone, which helped my power on into the sandwich. I was determined to finish this, if not for her then to show all the people in this room that I'm not just a dork. I was going to prove my manhood to all these people if it killed me. Although, if the sounds of protest coming from my stomach were any indication, it just might have.
I powered through the sandwich, reaching at least two more chilli's in that time. There could have been more, I don't really know. I kind of blanked out and didn't focus on anything. The rest is a bit of a blur. All I know is one minute there were people cheering and patting me on the back while I chewed the last bite, and the next I was on the floor in front of a toilet, throwing up like there was no tomorrow.
And that's exactly where I am now. I don't know how I feel honestly, Proud? Accomplished? I think mostly I just feel a bit silly. I let them push me into doing something which was stupid, not to mention dangerous. Never again, not for anyone. Not even Loraine.
The door to the bathroom opens and Loraine walks in. I recognise her talking to someone outside the door, but I don't turn around. I don't want her to see me like this.
"Yes?" I croaked out, voice hoarse from vomiting.
"Are you alright. You don't need an ambulance or anything?"
"No, no. I'm fine." I looked up at her, trying to seem sincere.
"If you were fine you wouldn't be in here."
"Shouldn't you be getting back to the party?" I spat, my tone as bitter as the taste in my mouth.
"I… I wanted to come and help you though. I know they don't think so, but I think you're a really cool guy." Loraine slowly stepped toward me. I just looked up at her, shocked. She thinks I'm cool?
She leant down next to me and pressed a quick kiss to my cheek, before standing up and walking to the door. Just before she left, she turned her head over her shoulder and smiled.
"See ya later, Darren."