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Mystery Selves Part 4: Ian’s Party

Nicole Jeffords 1 month ago

Julie got a lift to Ian’s party which was in Brattleboro, about ten miles from her own house, with a girl named Terry who lived down the street from the Mclntyres. It was nine-thirty when they arrived and already the place was jammed. Terry immediately grabbed a boy and started dancing. Julie wandered through the rooms, looking for Leo. When she couldn’t find him, she shared a joint with someone out on the porch and went for a walk on the road behind the house, under stars that had just begun to shimmer in a thickening sky.

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What had she done to anger Leo? she wondered. Otherwise he’d be here, wouldn’t he? Oh Jesus, chill, she told herself. The pot was making her paranoid. But as she walked up and down the road she couldn’t push away certain scary thoughts: perhaps she had slept with Leo too fast; perhaps he had found her ugly, stupid with her slanted eyes and tiny little nothing boobs; perhaps he didn’t want to take her to Spain after all; probably he was off with another girl.

She walked up and down that road at least twelve times, thinking the longer she stayed away from the party, the surer he’d be to arrive. But when she went back in the house, the only change was more couples were dancing in the living room where the rugs and furniture had been pushed back to accommodate them, and more people had paired off and were kissing on the stairs. No one knew where Leo was. Julie decided to get drunk.

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She had three beers, then found a bottle of Smirnoff’s with an inch left which she depleted in two swallows, then found Ian, a skinny redheaded kid whose father, Mr. Hicks, was some sort of writer who didn’t mind a party as long as they kept the noise level down and didn’t make pigs of themselves. “Where’s Leo?” she yelled.

“He had to go somewhere,” Ian yelled back.

“Where?”

Ian didn’t hear her and started to walk away. She grabbed him by the T-shirt and hollered: “Where’d he go?”

“I don’t know!”  Ian said, shrugging her off. “You’re pretty drunk, you know that?”

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After that interchange her mind went dark (the next day, she’d have only the dimmest recollection of it). Perhaps she had a few more beers. Perhaps she danced with someone, or locked herself in the bathroom and wept, or wandered around in the dark some more by herself. All she knew was that at some point Terry dragged her to the car, pulling over to the side of the road so Julie could get out and puke because everything was spinning so badly. She remembered creeping into her house, as clammy as if she had fever, stepping out of her clothes and burying them beneath a pile of dirty sheets and towels in the washing machine, climbing the stairs with the dog sticking its cold nose in her ribs. She remembered sinking down into her bed and being startled by a blurry white shape in the bed across the room — ah yes, the girl from Texas. The last thing she remembered before passing out was thinking she’d forgotten to go over to the Randolphs to feed their stupid cat.

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Tune in next week for PART 5: INTO THE WOODS

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