Gwyn Fisher via Creative Commons

The party went on around her and she sat in the center of it, expectant. Her best outfit had been selected, augmented by the newly purchased boots that were too uncomfortable to stand in. A chip from the bowl would make it into her mouth every so often. Her teeth were checked frequently in the mirrored back of her phone.

When conversations drifted close, she listened and laughed in the right places. Occasionally she would interject something topical; the others listened, paused to ensure she was done, and then carried on. Eventually they would drift away to take shots of liquor that gave them unpleasant expressions or to smoke cigarettes whose ashes would drift through the open window. It did not occur to her until later to be embarrassed by her actions or inactions.

Harvey phoned the house line at half past ten, saying he wouldn’t make it. Peter, who owned the house, made the announcement. She nodded somberly along with the others, though inside she drowned. She rubbed her arms, fighting the breeze, and considered closing the window. The tank top didn’t matter anymore.

The option remained to stay the night with Peter, again. She rose to leave.