The cobblestone streets that line the Boston alley are thoroughly deserted. The dark sky above threatens rain, and we walk hurriedly towards the Japanese bar we’d been instructed to go to - half to avoid getting caught in a storm, and half because we’re tremendously curious.
“Something,” he had told us, “will be waiting for you when you get here.”
Georgie, Lo and I pause in front of a two story bar, vibrantly decorated in all sorts of red and black paraphernalia. I can hear the booming thump of the music coming from the inside – the only sign of life for miles. At 11 P.M. on Thanksgiving night, any American in Boston would be home with their families. For us Latin students, however, Thanksgiving is just another excuse to further our obsessive pursuit of illicit endeavors. We look at each other, searching for sparks of hesitation in our eyes. Upon finding none, we step inside, and are immediately immersed in the bitter stench of rum.
Ricky is waiting for us upstairs. He removes our coats to reveal scantily clad bodies in tiny black dresses. He seems pleased. The surprise he had mentioned turns out to be copious amounts of alcohol. We, too, are pleased. The Japanese call them Scorpion Bowls: a large cocktail meant for two, but with enough alcohol to decently intoxicate six. I eagerly pounce on this information, and waste no time getting it into my system. My friends are equally as thrilled.
Three Scorpion Bowls later, and we are the only versions of ourselves worth being: reckless and carefree. We pay no mind to the Turkish guys at the neighboring table who call us sluts between booze-soaked breaths. We ignore the bartenders who urge us to keep our fervent dancing to a minimum. We hardly even notice when Jason and Dylan show up.
Dylan pulls me aside. I stare through blurry eyes at his chiseled face and smile.
“Dylan!” I squeal to the beautiful boy a year above me. Drunkenly, I envelop him in my arms. “How are you?”
He chuckles. “I’m great. How are you?”
"Divine,” I trill, taking a seat beside him. “How’s Jules?”
His smile fades. “She’s good, I guess.”
I refrain from asking any more questions, and the topic matures into his recent stint on the
Northeastern soccer team.
Thirty minutes later, we find ourselves in Georgie’s apartment. Jason prattles on about modern art, Lo is doing things with Ricky I'd rather not see, and Georgie's trying to decide which one of her contacts is making the cut tonight. I pop some gum into my mouth, excuse myself to use the bathroom, and nearly jump when I hear the door shut behind me. I turn around, and am able to catch a glimpse of Dylan before the lights go off, and he kisses me.
I think of Jules. I’m drunk. I kiss him back. I think of Jules. I stop.
“Why are you doing this?” I ask him.
“Because Rhys never let me in high school.” He kisses me again.
The name ignites a vicious inferno in my heart. I forget Jules. All I can think about is the betrayal. Pain claws at me from the inside. I let Dylan kiss me. I let him press me into a wall and devour me. I succumb because it’s the easiest way to fight it. When the pain subsides, I leave.
He tells me not to tell Jules.
I tell him I won’t.
He says thank you.
What a great way to commemorate the holiday, I think.
New Year’s Eve
It is 11:50, and I am already on my sixth shot of tequila. Georgie is lying on the bathroom floor; she isn’t used to alcohol like I am. I offer to stay with her, but she urges me to enjoy myself.
“It’s New Year’s,” she says, knowing the weight that carries.
New Year’s in Miami is always open bar. New Year’s is my favorite. I am alone, but it doesn’t matter. I am everywhere, talking to everyone, and everything is a blur.
At one point, I find Dylan. He’s with Jules.
“Bella!” Jules yells over the music, gesturing for me to come over. I do, and she hugs me. I look at Dylan over her shoulder, drowning as a pang of guilt engulfs me. “I’ve missed you!”
“Me too,” I say. Dylan gives me a curt wave. I nod my head to acknowledge his presence.
Jules nudges me. “You know who’s here?”
“Who?” I ask, half expecting her to announce that the surprise DJ the club had advertised was Steve Aoki. I love Steve Aoki.
“Rhys!” she says, smiling. She thinks this makes me happy. She remembers when we were together. She doesn’t know what he did.
She doesn’t know what I did.
Regret and guilt and pain swarm in my head, and suddenly, I need another shot of tequila. I head to the bar - the one outside, built of bamboo and palm leaves – and ask for two shots.
I down them in seconds.
I see people leaving the covered area of the club to congregate outside. I check my watch. It’s 11:59. They’ve come to watch the fireworks. I should call Georgie, I think. There’s no time, I tell myself.
The surprise DJ comes on. It’s not Steve Aoki. It’s some German guy I’ve never heard of. People start counting down.
I look to the corner and I see him and
he’s talking to a girl I’ve never seen and
there’s a cigarette dangling between his fingers and
the ash is hanging hesitantly on the end and
I’m hanging desperately by a thread and
I take another shot.
“Happy New Year’s!” they shout.
Rhys kisses the girl.
I wonder what flavor bubblegum she tastes like.
I wonder if it’s minty like mine.
Or fruity like hers.
Then, the alcohol hits me and I’m gone.