I didn’t want to go to the party, none of my close friends were going, but I decided to go anyway since I didn’t have anything better to do on a Friday night. It was either that or eating a bag of Cheetos while browsing for a movie to watch — emphasis on the browsing — chances were, I wasn’t gonna watch anything at the end. I got to this new club called “The 8th.”
“Where are you?” I texted Marie, the friend who invited me to the party, her birthday party.
“Inside,” she replied. Of course, she was inside, where else would she be?
Marie and I go way back, we met in first grade, and I always had a sizable crush on her, we grew a little distant after high school, but we kept in touch. After navigating an ocean of people I saw her; she was wearing a bright pink dress.
“Long time no see, Happy birthday,” I said.
“Yeah, thanks,” she replied smiling; she appeared to have been drinking a little bit.
She then promptly walked away when one of her friends called her. I was left all by myself. I bought a beer to not look out of place and then saw one of my high school friends, Katie. She looked amazing, wearing dark red lipstick, Doc. Martens, and a black dress.
“Katie?” I said.
“Oh. My. God. James!” She said while jumping for a hug.
“How have you been?” I asked somewhat surprised to see her there; Marie and she were never the best of friends.
“Alright, I just finished my major. Statistics, baby,” she said, making a rock and roll sign with her hand.
“It’s so good to see you,” I said.
“Same,” she replied smiling.
I then asked her about her dog Sparkles, and then she went on and on for what felt like a solid 20 minutes. She loves that dog – well, loved, she died last month. I remember going to her house and playing tug war with the mustiest-looking French poodle you can imagine.
“You went to my house so often even Sparkles was expecting you every week,” Katie said, laughing.
“Good to know that just the dog was happy to see me,” I replied.
Katie laughed and nodded.
“You know Rachel hated it when I went to your place,” I said.
Rachel was my ex-girlfriend; we dated on and off since high school. The last time we broke up was because I said something along the lines of “Jenna Ortega is pretty,” and then she complained that she doesn’t look anything like her, and so on. A bit toxic, to put it mildly. I wasn’t a saint either; I broke up with her because she spilled coffee on my work computer a few months ago.
“Of course, she did, freaking sicko. Do you remember the time she called my house, and my dad picked up? She was just breathing; my dad thought we were gonna be on the front page of the news the next day. The poor guy slept with a baseball bat next to his bed,” she said.
“She was a little bit on the unhinged side,” I replied.
“Very much unhinged,” Katie said with a smirk.
“She called me last week and went on and on about you, actually,” I said and then took a sip of the beer. It tasted like what someone who doesn’t like beer would describe beer.
“Oh no,” she replied, looking amused.
“Yeah, she was talking about that time I had to sleep in your place because I left my car keys in your dad’s car, and then he and your mom went to some conference or something,” I said.
“YOU SHOULD’VE JUST TAKEN AN UBER,” Katie said, imitating how Rachel reacted.
“You remember,” I replied laughing a bit.
“In all fairness we did sleep together, like literally slept, you couldn’t handle Mad Max Fury Road,” she said.
“I’ve tried to watch it three times since, and I still can’t make it,” I replied. I hate that movie.
“We didn’t even get as close as a peck,” I continued.
We both took a sip out of our respective drinks and bobbed our heads to the beat of the song.
“We should’ve kissed,” Katie said looking at the people dancing.
My heart skipped a beat. She was right, we should’ve. We should’ve dated, we should’ve kissed every day, but we didn’t.
“Yeah, we should’ve, it’s the very first time I wish Rachel was right about us,” I said with a sense of regret in my voice.
I nervously looked at her. She was scratching off the tags of the beer bottle with her casino red fingernails.
“…We still can,” I said.
Katie then moved her body slightly closer to mine. I could feel our shoulders touching. Her arms were covered in glitter and so was my shirt at that point. I lowered my hand and touched hers. Our fingers fiddled for a few seconds. She looked at me after I raised my eyes from our fingers fiddling to her face. She was looking every way as beautiful as I remembered and more. She bit her lip nervously. I went for it.
She held my face as soon as I was about to let go and kissed me.
“Was that so hard to do 5 years ago?” She said with a small smile on her face.
“Apparently,” I replied and then kissed her again.
Her lips smelled like Sprite chapstick but they didn’t taste of anything but her, and perhaps vodka martini beer.
We kissed for a while longer, losing track of time and space. It was as if we were the only two people in the club, everything else faded into the background. Eventually, we pulled away, both of us out of breath. We stayed close to each other, swaying to the music, our fingers intertwined
We then got out of the club, we took out a cigarette.
“Want one?” She asked.
“I’m good,” I replied.
We sat on the sidewalk and talked about the future, how we thought our houses would be, and where would our vacations be. She talked about how she would solve climate change and I rambled about the last movie I watched. We stayed there for about an hour, and she checked her phone.
“Damnit,” Katie said while her face was fully lit by the brightest screen in the history of mobile technology.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Ugh, why did you have to be here?” She said.
“Huh?” I replied.
“I have a boyfriend, James, we’ve been together since the second week of college,” she said.
“But that was like…,” I said while trying to make the mental calculations for that.
“4 years,” she responded.
“I only went to this stupid party because I was in town for the weekend, I have to go back to Cali tomorrow,” she said, looking confused.
We then called an Uber, each to their own place. When her ride was there, we kissed again.
“It was good to see you, James,” she said while entering the car.
And as soon as the car was about to start moving, I knocked on the window, she opened it. I kissed her again. It was one of those kisses that tasted like a goodbye rather than a see you later.
“I’m never giving this up again,” I said, in my best attempt to sound romantic.
She smiled, knowing that this time she was the one giving it up.
© Gabriel Berm