I didn’t like the shoes I wore that night. The rubber lining on the strap pinched the skin above my heels. But the heels matched the blouse, so I wore them anyway. My top was sheer enough to be suggestive, but comfortable enough for the train. I took one final look in the mirror to pull my skirt down, rake fly aways in, fix my lipstick. Routinely unsatisfied, I grabbed my keys and left.
We met up at a bar by Kendall station. I walked through seas of twenty and thirty-somethings to find her. I felt uneasy that night, my skirt kept riding up and the wind felt foreign against my bare back. I kept shifting my weight from one foot to the other, rubbing against the coming blisters. Samantha complimented my shoes. We paid for our drinks and walked a few blocks down University Ave.
This part of the city had breaks in their sidewalks. We got to a door with the number 87 on it. The buzzer was broken. Sam touched her phone and a minute later we heard a voice above us. A man pushed his long hair to one side and leaned against the windowsill. Well look at that, he said to us with a smirk. The man threw down the keys to Samantha. Effortlessly, she caught them and sent him a kiss with her fingers.
The party was tired. Half the people were on their phones and the other half played beer pong. I saw a girl in a t-shirt and jeans, I was jealous. I pulled my skirt a little further down and looked at Samantha. I thought no one really had fun at parties, we were just faking it. Samantha faked it the best. Her body loosened to the beat of badly selected music. She made the party look almost slightly interesting. I left to find some quiet.
This is the youngest and prettiest you’ll ever be, Mami told me while I was growing up. I repeat this to myself in the mirror of the bathroom. The songs turned into soft echoes, silencing sounds of beer-pong grunts. I took off my shoes and bent underneath the sink. An empty toothpaste bottle with chunks of dried up blue paste stuck to the bottom of the shelf. There were prescription bottles and loose q-tips. Two-in-one shampoos and conditioners were stacked next to a box of condoms. I reached over to the band-aids and patched up my ankles. Anyone in there, a woman’s voice yelled behind the door. I left.
Midnight. A tall man in an Old Navy t-shirt and patchy beard put his hand on my bare back. My heart skipped a beat and I took a step away from him towards the wall. Sorry, I said although I wasn’t sure what I apologized for. What’s your name, he asked. He smiled. Who do you know here? I’ve never been good at flirting but I remind myself this is the youngest and prettiest I’ll ever be. I ask him to make me a drink.
His eyes were almost as dark as the circles underneath them. I propped myself on the kitchen counter as he poured equal parts vodka, orange juice, tonic. The chill distracted me from my discomfort. He gave me my drink and put his hand on my knee. I took a few sips and looked passed him. Samantha smiled, sitting on the lap of the man with long hair kissing her ear. I stopped thinking about my feet, I didn’t feel too exposed anymore. Calmness came over me. Tranquility paired nicely with the party.
The night grew darker. I grabbed onto the rail tightly trying to get down the narrow staircase. My ankles trembled in every step. I almost fell, but someone was holding me up by my waist. I said thank you and kept descending. I got to a door numbered 78, twisted the doorknob. A sea of cool air whipped passed us. I made it outside.
I thought about Samantha, where was she? The stars flickered quickly against the darkness of the sky. The stars were really street lamps. They were yellow, where was I? Cars rushed past us, rain pierced through my shoulders. Cold, shaking. My top was sheerer than I thought, my skirt stuck to my thighs. His palm rubbing my neck.
The concrete shimmered. Streets turned into mirrors. Street lamps doubled, the liquor store. Neon lights, bright blue beer poured through the window. Oranges, yellows vibrating together in the puddles on the corners. Gliding on the pavement, I became pigment. Music gone, only sirens. Bright. My breath. My heels crashed against the tides of cracked sidewalks. She looked into him, he looked at her.
I kept walking, for hours. She was tired against the lights of the city. I dreamt while I stumbled. Soft tapping of rain turned the scene into art. She tipped her head into the sky. I let the world do the melting, my colors fading. Water trickled into my eyelashes, she squinted and felt her breath swimming in slow motion. I started to cry. Does he know my name? Do you care.
I looked at the couple. On the other side. The street dividing us. Our mouths wide enough to swallow each other whole. She put his palms on his cheeks, his eyes were closed. She kissed his neck, he grabbed her waist. He said something in her ear. I looked at the street lamp, wondering. Is this one mine? He took out his keys and let us in.
Monday. Samantha asks if I made it home okay. I tell her yes. That night, I told my mother. I don’t feel too young anymore.