Fall Break in Rivertown
I heard snoring from the beat up plaid couch. Dad sounded like what would happen if a pig and a trumpet crossbred somehow. On my tiptoes, I crept past him. I snuck up the stairs and creaked open my door. I kept my lights off and walked to my dresser, stubbing my toe on my chair. I fumbled for my battery powered lantern and switched it on.
I sat dresser and peered into the mirror. I adjusted the lantern on the dresser’s surface so that my face lit up. My face looked pretty, I thought. Leah graciously gave me a bag full of hand me down makeup. Of course, I couldn’t put it on the way that she did, but I was trying. I was beginning to enjoy taking a little more time to primp. Besides, my therapist suggested that self-care be more of priority. Plus, it made me look like her. And why wouldn’t I want to look like her, if given the chance? She was stunning. She always would be, too. Now all that is left of her are pictures and a pinch of ashes that I keep in my heart shaped locket. Mrs. Rosalee Merritt was forever young. Like Marilyn Monroe. My heart panged at the comparison. I shoved my thoughts back where they belonged.
I cleared my throat and closed my eyes. They reopened and I saw fire burning within blue irises. I can do this, I instructed myself.
“What’s here?” My face lit up with shock. “A cup, closed in my true love’s hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.”
I stared into my own eyes. Water, dammit! I demanded. Professor Rintswill won’t give me a part in the final if I can’t produce tears. Everyone can produce tears, for Christ’s sake.
“O churl, drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after?” My face twisted in pain and my neck sprouted red splotches. “I will kiss thy lips. Haply some poison yet doth hang on them, To make me die with a restorative.” Dry eyes.
Just then, I heard a crash in my room and I jumped from my chair, knocking it over. My hands flew to my mouth and I screamed. I spun around.
“Good evening, Juliet Montague,” Nash said. He was no more than a tall shadow by my window in my dimly lit room.
“Nash!” I growled. I stomped towards my door and flipped the light switch. “You scared the shit out of me. How long have you been there?”
I squinted as my eyes adjusted. Nash had on his favorite camo baseball cap and his distressed jeans. Unlike my new Californian friends, his jeans weren’t torn and faded purchased from a designer store, they were like that from horseback riding and four wheeling.
“Just a few. Did I scare you?”
I stared at him for a moment, hands on hips. He was wearing that famous James Devon Nash smile that made all the girls in Rivertown bat their eyes and giggle.
“Yes, clearly, asswipe. Hence the scream!”
Nash raised an eyebrow. “Hey. You look…weird.”
“Gee thanks,” I said shifting my weight to my other foot. I smoothed down my lightened hair. I forgot that he hadn’t seen my makeover yet.
“Oh, man,” Nash said. “Sorry, I sometimes forget you are a girl and have feelings and shit.”
“No I don’t!” I lied. “So, you know, there is this thing called a cellphone.”
“I know. I lost it.”
“Shutup, Merritt! So I saw your light on and I wanted to sneak for old time’s sake.”
“Well, you almost killed me with your nostalgia.”
“Your sarcasm is killin’ me.”
I made a face and held my lips together. I couldn’t let him see me smile.
Nash reached down next to his foot and I heard a crinkling sound. He lifted up a plastic bag.
“Here,” he said, coming towards me. “I saw Trina at the pool hall and he…damn, I’m sorry…she told me your size.”
I opened the box that had Nike written on the top and pulled out two hot pink running shoes that had a bright teal Nike sign and lining. I felt my jaw drop a little.
“Woa these are so cute!” I immediately pulled out the stuffing and slid my bare feet inside. “You picked these out?” I ran in place a few times to test them out.
Nash removed his cap and raked his fingers through his dark blond hair. He replaced the cap and gave me a weak smile.
“I felt bad about your other ones. I know that mud at the bottom kind of stains. I hope it came out of your clothes.”
“Do you remember what I was wearing?” I said with a smirk.
“No, are you serious? I was drunk.”
“I was wearing your tshirt because Tabitha spilled her entire cup up beer on me. Remember? In your basement?”
Nash laughed and shrugged.
“Speaking of beer…” I said wondering what the crew’s plan was for the night.
“Do you want to go to Selma’s? There are a bunch of people back on their fall breaks. I can give you a ride. I’m not drinking tonight, last night was rough.”
“Yeah, I guess I made out with Natasha Springer.” Nash made a sour face.
I contorted my face into an exaggerated response of disgust. Inside, I felt a twinge of anger. I couldn’t control what Nash did, but if he was going to man-slut after his breakup, he should know better than to screw my high school rival.
“Did you go get your rabies vaccination today?”
Nash gave my shoulder a playful nudge. “Funny.” He guided me towards the window.
“Oh, hell no!” I said, rooting my feet to the ground. “I’m a grown ass woman, I’m not ‘sneaking out’.”
Nash wrapped his arms around my waist from behind and lifted me up. I kicked and struggled, but I weighed 115 lbs and he was the wrestling state champion. He plopped me down in front of the window and yanked it open. A nippy breeze tousled my hair.
“Nash!” I said as he slid out of the window and climbed out onto the massive oak. I couldn’t contain my laughter; I hadn’t done this since I was sixteen.
After a ride in his recently waxed Ford, we walked into Selma’s Bar and Grille and everyone turned towards the door. Nash got a roaring ‘hey!’ and a few of our friends met him by the door. It took a few minutes for them to realize I was there. Or, maybe they didn’t recognize me with my hair and makeup. They invited me to the bar with them, but I told them I would in a little while.
I rolled my eyes as I watched Nash shake hands with a few guys sitting at a table before he could even make it to the seat that was saved for him.
Such a celebrity, I thought to myself as I scanned the room, hoping to see a table of drama geeks.
“Brie!” A throaty, familiar voice yelled. I made eye contact with Trina Lubble. Formally Thomas Lubble.
Trina had finally enough length that she ditched her wig, so I hardly recognized her at first.
“You look phenomenal! Your boobs are so much bigger than mine, now,” I added with a fake pout. I flung my arms around her and squeezed as hard as I could. Trina Lubble…the girl who once saved my life. My best friend.
“Aw, Brie, sweetie, look at you,” Trina gave me a once over. “You look like a beauty queen! Are you wearing makeup?”
“Yeah,” I said allowing Trina to guide me to her table. She was with a few members of my old club. They gave me squishy hugs and someone filled me a glass from their pitcher. I love coming home from being away at school! I thought.
Trina crossed her legs and leaned forward. She batted her almond shaped Hispanic eyes at me and chomped on a piece of gum. “You came with Nash?”
I took off my jean jacket and hung it on my chair. I shot Trina a look. “So?”
“So did he tell you the scoop on him and Tabitha?”
“Um,” I glanced over at Nash, who was sitting at the bar talking to Billy. “Yes, but that can wait. I wanted to tell you about this sorority I’m probably going to join.”
“Brianne. Rosalee. Merritt.” Trina leaned over and ran her fingers through a chunk of my hair. “Makeup? Sororities? Look at you, sweetie!”
I felt my face flush. “Ya.”
“I’m happy for you, but, none of them bitches better replace me. You hear?”
“Oh trust me. That’s impossible, no one compares to you,” I said, taking a sip of beer. It was Saturday and I had 500 left.
“Now that we put down some best friend ground rules… Spill!”
“My roommate, Leah, is this really rich girl from Las Angeles. Her parents are like millionaires. She is so spoiled and kind of annoying. But she’s really nice at the same time. Kind of pushy. And so way out of touch with responsibility, like, I throw away her tray at lunch and like, I had to show her how to use the laundry room. I guess she’s always had someone doing everything for her.”
“Wow,” Trina said taking a swig of beer. “No offense, but, woa. An heiress and a Rivertown girl living in a 20 by 20 dorm room. Is MTV filming this? They should.”
I opened my throat and allowed the entire glass of beer slide down my throat. I slammed my glass down and wiped off the foam with my forearm.
Trina’s eyes widened and she poured me another glass. It was so full that yellow streams trickled down the side.
“Girl, you drink. You just drink.”
I giggled. “Thanks, Trina. Anyhoo, Leah told me about the Greek system at Baylor and the way she talked about it made me want to join. I want to try new things now that I’m finally out of this shit hole town. You know?”
“I wouldn’t have pegged you for a sorority girl, but I’m sure you can always quit if it’s not yourthing.”
“That’s just it,” I said shaking my head. “What is a ‘sorority girl’ anyway? I found this house that put me as their number one choice. They are the chilliest sorority on campus, but I guess some of the stuck up girls think that they are weirdo losers. I don’t know, I feel like, Coralvalley, California is this ritzy area so most sororities must act like, I don’t know, up and coming socialites. But Theta Gamma Nu is different.”
“Sounds like a great house!” Trina reached over and held my hand. She gave it a little squeeze.
“It is. I will get my official acceptance as a pledge when I get back from fall break. So glad I got these shoes to wear when I’m pledging. I bet I’ll be busy.”
“Did you say shoes?” Trina reached down and pulled up my foot, placing it on her lap. “Sweetie, these are not shoes. They are like… Jesus. You are wearing Jesus on your feet.”
I laughed so hard that I choked.
“Did Nash get you these? Was this why he asked me your size?”
“Yes he did.”
Trina raised her perfectly sculpted eyebrows.
Trina gave me a knowing look.
I glanced over to where Nash was at the bar. He had his long flannel rolled up, revealing his full tattooed sleeve. He gazed around the bar and our eyes met. Then, eyes locked with mine, he lifted up his middle finger and laughed.
I lifted up both of my fingers.
Trina looked over and Nash and then me. “Sweetie, if you don’t snatch that sexy man up…”
I giggled. “Me and Nash? Please. Ew.”
I glanced over at Nash to find him looking at me again. I covered my mouth with my hand.
I couldn’t let him see me smile.