OK – so this is my first proper attempt at this – a brief story that came to me this week; I have no time to properly edit,so not sure if I have quite got the interior voice right, but here goes.
The woman in the red dress is a nasty surprise. She stands at the doorway, the silk of the dress cut so perfectly it clings to the curves on her body like skin. It’s lush, she’s lush. Suddenly, the sexy outfit Suzy and I spent hours choosing, feels tacky.
I teeter on the brink of the doorstep.
“Hi” she says, “You must be Kayleigh. Jack never stops talking about you.”
Does he? Does he?
“Hi, and you are?”
“Alex, Jack’s sister. Didn’t he mention we shared a house?”
Fabtastic. Dreams of a New Year kiss still intact, I totter over the doorstep into the small hallway.
“Can I take your coat? Jacket?”
I give her my coat, leaving the bolero jacket on. Suzy and I spent ages taping my boobs to the lime-green halterneck I’m wearing, but I’m still a bit nervous of something going wrong. Alex waves me to the kitchen. Jack is standing with a group of friends, by a table of drinks and a big bowl of, what looks like raspberry juice.
“Kayleigh! You came!” He gives me a hug. “Everybody, this is the woman who saves my life on a regular basis.”
I try not to blush. This is much better. The group nod and smile, a couple introduce themselves as Dan and Rowan. A man I recognise from the office, looks across, “How come you get the sexy secretary?”
Jack smiles, “Hands off,” and then to me, “Punch?” I look round startled, until he hands me a drink of the raspberry juice. “Go easy on it – it’s got quite a kick.”
I gulp it down to cover my confusion. He’s right, it is strong, but tastes delicious. I settle in for the evening.
I’m in the lounge dancing on the laminate floor. It’s just like Mum and Dad’s but the walls are white, there is a single divan, silver lamp and a wall to wall sound system. I feel loose with the music and the drink. “I’m too sexy for my clothes… I’m sexy” . It’s only a matter of time before Jack finds me – tonight’s got to be the night. Dan and Rowan are beside me shifting to the music with stiff, awkward movements. Rowan says she needs the loo and they leave. It’s hot, so I take off my jacket, close my eyes and sway. A voice interrupts me. “Dance?” It’s Whatshisname, the one from the kitchen. I’d rather it was Jack, but I don’t know where he is, and I’m not sure how to say no. We gyrate together. Whatshisname steps on my toes and bangs into me. I’m beginning to feel a little dizzy. He falls against me, grabbing my boob. I make an excuse and run out to the kitchen.
I’ve been sitting in the kitchen telling jokes. There’s not much left in the punchbowl but everyone is laughing at me, so I must be funny, right? Someone turns the music off in the lounge. Jack enters. Jack – I gaze at him. He’s so beautiful. Those brown eyes. The dimple on his chin. I can’t wait to kiss him. He’s grabbing me by the hand. He’s grabbing me by the hand.
“Come on,” he says, “We’re playing truth or dare.” It takes me a minute or two to get off the chair. Must be my shoes, I kick them off and leave them there. I knew I should have worn flats.
I stand against the wall, to steady myself. Someone spins a bottle. It points to Alex. She dares her friend to kiss a man with a ginger beard. They take a long one to great amusement. The bottle spins again, and again. People show a bit of flesh, kiss, share the odd secret. I’m waiting for my turn, my snog. The bottle spins to Dan. He looks across at Rowan.
“Truth,” he says, his voice sounding brittle. “Who were you with last night.”
“Lying bitch,” he spits at her and walks out of the house.
“I’m telling the truth.” She’s crying. Jack walks over and gives her a hug.
“Don’t worry,” he says. He’s so kind. He’s lovely. Surely, it will be our turn soon.
The bottle spins to whatshisname. He looks across at me and smiles.
“Kayleigh. Show us your suspenders.” The room roars with appreciation.
“You don’t have to,” says Jack. But everyone else is doing it. And I’ve got to the point I don’t care. I stagger to the centre of the room, and hitch my skirt above the top of my stockings, exposing my suspenders. There are catcalls and whistles as I let my skirt down. Pleased with myself, I turn round, only to trip over someone’s leg. I fall in whatshisname’s lap. “Thanks for dropping in” he says.
I pull myself up as fast as I can. Something tears. Oh God no. I’m doing a Janet Jackson right in front of Jack. Alex takes me by the arm.
“Come on Kayleigh.” She brings me upstairs to the bedroom, sorts out my top. “I think you’ve had a bit too much. Why don’t you lie down for a bit?” She lies me on the bed. I struggle.
“I’m fine. Honestly. I’m fine.” It’s not true, the room is moving round and round and my head is hurting. But I can’t end the night up here without Jack. “Jack…” I say, “What about Jack?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll explain.” She switches off the light and leaves me alone in the dizzy darkness.
I glance at the digital clock. Nearly midnight. I’ve got to get up. I heave myself off the bed. My hair is all over the place, but I can’t find a brush. I feel sick. I’ve got to find Jack before midnight. I’ve got to.
Downstairs the lounge is crowded. 5,4,3,2,1 HAPPY NEW YEAR. There is a cheer. People snog. Poppers go off. Outside fireworks explode. Where’s Jack? He doesn’t seem to be in here. I push my way out into the hall. The kitchen is empty, but the back door is open. I can see two people standing by the fence. They have the look of long-term lovers. The man turns round as I come out into the garden. It’s Jack. Jack. And the woman? Bloody Rowan. Dan was right. She is a lying bitch.
I run back inside so they can’t see my tears and bump into whatsisname.
“Kayleigh. Where’s my New Year kiss?” He pulls me towards him, and his tongue is in my mouth before I can respond. He pushes me against the kitchen wall, and his hand is up my skirt. The feeling is not unpleasant. And it does seem a shame to waste the suspenders.
I move into his body and kiss him back.