“I haven’t seen you all night,” she says. “How are you?”
I shoot her a placating smile and run my hand over my updo, making sure it’s all in place. It’s true I haven’t really said anything other than hello to her tonight, and over the last few months I’ve talked to her less and less. I still consider her a great friend, probably my closest one in some ways. But even though we come from similar families and were raised pretty much the same way, ever since I started university, I’ve felt this fissure between us. I’m sure this continental drift is natural when you’re twenty-one and figuring shit out, but I’m becoming more and more aware of it.
And it’s not just Sarah. It’s everything, including Alan and this party that we’re at. Once upon a time, these people were my world, but as time flies by, they’re starting to feel like strangers, and this world seems less like my own and more like a cocoon I’m supposed to shed.
But lord knows with my parents, shedding anything they’ve brought upon me is next to impossible.
Still I say, “I’m good. It’s kind of fun with this storm, eh?”
She wrinkles her nose. “Fun? It’s frightening.”
“Yeah, but being frightened is fun,” I tell her. “Remember when we used to go on night hikes and I would take off with the flashlight and leave you alone in the dark?”
“Oh yeah, real fun,” she says dryly. “You were the cruelest child, you know that? Scarred me for life.”
I can’t help but smirk. “Oh come on, that’s why you liked me. Everyone else was too boring.”
“Everyone else was normal,” she says and then blinks, as if catching herself saying the wrong thing.
I’m not offended. I know that out of everyone in my private school for rich bitches and the silver spoon elite, I was the resident weirdo. I tried to hide it, and still do, lest I risk the look of utter disappointment on my mother’s face every time I slip into geekdom.
“Well, normal is overrated,” I say. What I really want to do is open the giant glass doors and run out on the deck and into the storm, letting the rain ruin my makeup and hair and dress. I want to feel fucking alive from my fingers to my toes—I want to capture the lightning and hold it in my chest until I burst.
“Are you okay?” Sarah asks, putting her hand on my shoulder.
I frown, and only then do I notice her face is starting to blur. I thought maybe it was her airbrushed foundation, but no, it’s tears smearing my vision.
“Argh,” I growl, and shove my finger into my eye. “It’s these damn contacts.”
I normally wear glasses for my nearsightedness but Alan insisted I wear contacts tonight. I rarely wear them, so my eyes seem to reject them every second, and it could be one reason I’m feeling out of sorts. With my glasses I almost feel like I have a persona, like Clark Kent. Without them, I’m exposed.
“I thought you were getting sentimental,” she says, and after I blink a few times and my vision clears, I notice this strange twinkle in her eye, a devious slant to her mouth.
I swallow thickly, my gut all frothy again.
“No,” I say slowly. “Over what?”
“No reason,” she says, looking back to Alan who is gabbing with his father. The two of them both look my way and nod at the same time, like fucking robots. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Sarah nod to them and raise her drink.
There’s something going on here. It’s in the air and it’s changing, and it isn’t the storm at all.