I could hear the music from the roof. The rhythmic thump of the bass and the voice of the singer floats all the way from the shop. I sit on my friend's roof, a cigarette in my right hand. Smoke wafts from my mouth, my eyes half open. "Hurry up and finish that, we have to go clean up." I look at my friend next to me, my brain slowly processing what she said.
"We have plenty of time. My dad can wait for me," says Jay. His dad had called him up to the shop ten minutes ago.
"No, I can just get another one of these later," I say, stomping out the cigarette with my foot. The three of us stand, taking light steps so we don't make too much noise. I can hear the girls in Maddie's room, watching YouTube on her laptop and doing each other's makeup. We can't let them catch us with cigarette's, especially since my sister is in there. I can only imagine what she would say. Why are you smoking cigarettes? You are only 15! I push the thought to the back of my mind, and keep going down the ladder from the roof. As my feet touch the ground, I look up at the sky, the stars above my head, spattered like paint that an artist had slung all over his canvas. I would have looked for longer if I knew it would be the last time I saw them in a long time.
We quickly make our way around the side of the house, our bodies hidden by the shadows. I try not to fall over the few things scattered on the concrete. We make it to the front door, swinging it open and sprinting inside. "Do you remember where we put the gum?" asks Maddie, searching the room for the small black box.
"I think I put it on the table," I said. I made my way across the room, my friends right behind me. The black box of mint gum, sits on the wooden table where I left it, right next to the kid's stuff. "We each take a piece to make sure our breath doesn't smell like smoke," I said.
"Should we spray perfume on ourselves too? We don't want them smelling it on our clothes," says Maddie.
"No, if they ask why we smell, we will just say that we have been hanging out with them all night. We always smell like cigarette smoke when we hang around them anyway," I said. As I chew my gum, I take a quick look around the room to see how much of a mess the kids have made so far. Toys are scattered around the tile floor. Food bowls are on the counters in the kitchen, glasses of unfinished juice sitting on the piano against the wall. Maddie's brother, Sean, left his big wrestling dummy in the middle of the floor, the cat curled up on its stomach. I look up at the stairs, seeing clothes lying on almost every step. On the support beam running parallel to the floor, a candle sits.
I remember when we put it there. It had been the craziest night ever, the rain pounding on the windows, the lights going out every few minutes and coming back on a few minutes later. We had lit candles all over the house so we could see. I remember having one of the funniest conversations we have ever had on her floor with a candle between us.
"Oh my god! You really did that?" I had said. She looked at me with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
"Yeah! I can hardly believe it myself!"
"You only knew the guy for four days!"
"Yeah but I was never going to see him again."
"This wouldn't have happened if your dad had let me come." She had gone to Colorado for a music festival, her parents only really going because marijuana isn't illegal. She met this guy in the middle of a song, and they started hanging out, and the night before she left to come back to Louisiana, she gave away her "v-card" to the stranger. I never would have thought she would have the guts, but who knew?
"He only wanted to hang out with me, and he thought that you not coming would make it possible. You know that is you had come I wouldn't have played with him at all," she said. Her dad was going to let me go too, but he decided at the last minute that I couldn't join them on the trip.
"Let me guess, you didn't even play one song with him the entire time?"
"Pretty much. I was with Eric the whole time."
"And you aren't even going to see him again!"
At that moment, all the lights came back on and the rain started to slow down. "Let's go put out all of the candles now," she said. We left the room, and as I passed that candle on the support beam, I blew it out, the scented smoke rising in the air.
"We should probably get Jay back to his dad," she says now. She is sipping from a Capri-Sun that she found in her brother's stuff.
"Yeah, Michael is probably trying to drag him home. We always leave early," says Jay. He pokes out his lip like he's pouting, but we know he is only faking. He doesn't ever care when he has to leave early. He knows that as soon as he gets home, he gets to smoke more weed. I punch him in the shoulder and start walking toward the door.
The night air is cold against my face. I step out from under the carport and start moving up the gravel driveway. I look up, staring at the string of stars that I saw just minutes before. It seems like they are moving, like they are swirling through the sky. "Where is your dad?" asks Maddie. I look down and start searching the parking lot.
"He wouldn't have left you, right?" I say.
"No. Not even if he is drunk," says Jay.
"He will show up sooner or later," I say.
"Do you guys want to go walk or something?"
"Sure," says Maddie. We start down the driveway, making our way to the road. It feels like someone is staring at the back of my head, watching me. I look behind me, but no one is there. I brush off the feeling and keep walking.
"What if your dad comes driving up while we are walking?"
"Then we will come back and act like we weren't doing anything wrong."
"Sounds like a good plan to me," I say. I still feel eyes on me. Who would be out in the road in the middle of the night besides us? We are about a block away from Maddie's house when we hear a noise.
"Did you guys hear that?" I ask.
"Yeah," they both say at the same time. We turn and walk back towards the house. The bushes rustle behind me, and I turn. Maddie screams, her voice filled with terror. Jay steps in front of us, putting himself between us and the attacker. My brain stops working. My heart is beating so fast, I feel like it is going to burst right out of my chest. The man is tall, but that is all I can see because of the darkness. He holds a large bat in one hand. He swings, hitting Jay in the face. Jay crumples to the ground. The man swings again, at me this time, and everything around me goes black.