The Judgement Day Celebration
It was New Years Eve 1999 – also known to those who lived through it as Judgment Day or the Y2K. Apparently all the computers were going to blow up or something and the world was going to collapse. There weren't even that many computers back then. Only the government had them. I couldn't see how modern people were going to be affected. Banks reading at zero. Credit, zero. Everything kept in electronic databases, zero. Wouldn't that have been freedom, in Chuck Palahniuk's sense of the word? That sounds more like Nirvana then Doomsday. But, whatever. It didn't happen. What did happen, at least in my little spinning rock, was worse...
I sat fidgeting with the label on the Millers Draft in my hand. I didn't drink, but I couldn't refuse the beer when it was handed to me over an hour ago. It was past room temperature now, and lost any appeal. I had long stopped pretending to sip at it. I thought about how people were viewing me, sitting on the couch with this bottle in my hand, not talking to anyone. Like I was a ghost, or a stranger. Like I didn't belong. And, it would be fair to think, because I didn't. I didn't really know many people at the party. Or, I couldn't find the ones I did. My friend, Kruger, was hosting a Judgment Day Celebration party, in case the reports were right. In case the computers did all malfunction and Y2K was real. He said it was better safe than sorry, and if it was going to be the last night on Earth, we might as well enjoy it. Everyone who was anyone was at his house, milling around. All drinking and some making fools of themselves already. Even though it was only 7:30. I kept looking around the room for someone I knew. But, really I was waiting for Jason, my boyfriend. He had been out of town with his band, and I hadn't seen him in a few weeks. I was excited to spend time with him, and hear his tour stories. I wasn't sure we'd even get a chance to talk. But I was hoping we might sneak off for a few minutes at some point, and be alone together. Maybe I'd be able to steal a kiss when no one was looking. Maybe it was idealistic, but I had my fingers crossed anyway. We were dating in secret, and, we liked it that way. It was something special we had that the world couldn't take away from us. He was the only one who knew my real age, too. I didn't tell anyone else. I knew I wouldn't make any friends if they knew how young I actually was. I wouldn't be sitting with a beer in my hand at a party with a bunch of twenty something year old kids, that's for sure. As it was, Jason was the only reason I accepted Kruger's invitation in the first place. When 8 rolled in, I was pretty sure he wasn't going to show up. I thought about calling my mom, and asking if he had called the house. But I knew she wouldn't be comfortable knowing I was at the party without him. I had told her we were going together, not that I was meeting him there. I could have called my older sister, Sherry. But, she would have a well rehearsed rant for why I shouldn't have been here in the first place. I didn't end up calling anyone. Jason showed up about fifteen minutes later. I tried to act casual, but I was excited. I practically jumped off the couch, and bounded to the front door he was walking in. I abandoned my beer on the table where I was sitting.
"Hi Jason!" I greeted, sounding a little over eager. He smiled, nodding.
"Hey Morgan." He replied casually.
"How was the trip?" I asked, still attempting a watered down enthusiasm. Jason nodded.
"It was alright. I'll have to tell you about it sometime.” He answered. Before I could say anything else, he motioned to the blonde girl walking in behind him.
“Oh, this is my date, Cassandra." He introduced. I felt my heart dropping slowly into my stomach. His 'date'. He used that word. She was his 'date'. All at once I felt an immense pressure. Like gravity had started pulling double over time. My heart sank further, and further. I smiled, nodding in the girls direction. I had to be polite after all. I wanted to say something, but I fought the urge.
"I'm going to get another drink." I foolishly blurted out instead, turning my back to Jason.
"When did you start drinking?" Jason asked in the background. I turned back around and faked a smile, throwing my hands in the air to exaggerate.
"Well, if the world is going to end, I may as well enjoy it, right?" I quoted Kruger's earlier statement, though the joke was lost to Jason. He wasn't there when Kruger made the comment. So I walked into the kitchen and looked around. I didn't drink more than a cooler or a beer here and there, and only ever at these parties. But, there was someone I didn't know standing in the kitchen, looking though cupboards. He pulled out a black labeled bottle with white writing. I recognized it, because my step-brother, Mike, drank whatever was in that bottle. In fact, I hardly saw him without the bottle in his hand. The only time I did was when he was driving, and I had my suspicions.
"Hey, can you pour me one of those?" I asked this random person. He nodded, and filled half a glass with the light brown liquid. Then he handed it to me, and held up his glass.
"Cheers." He offered. I faked a smile, holding my glass to his, and took a sip. I couldn't help but wince at the flavor. It was bold, and I wasn't expecting it. The guy laughed.
“First time?” He asked. I nodded slowly.
"Yeah, it hurts the first time." He joked, heading out of the kitchen. I shrugged, and finished what was in the glass. Then, I hopped up on the counter beside the bottle, and poured myself another one. Hey, what the hell, right? Happy fucking new year, I thought to myself. Then, I pounded back the second glass. I felt a rush to my head, and put my hands on the counter to balance myself. Then I nodded, like I was trying to convince myself I'd be alright. Then I felt sick. A sudden sickness. Like my stomach was doing back flips and hosting it's own party. But not like this one. The kind I'd seen on TV, with kegs, and keg stands. Frat boys. My stomach was hosting a party to frat boys. Oh joy, I thought. I jumped off the counter, and headed to the bathroom. I felt like I was going to throw up a couple aforementioned frat boys. I put my hands on the bathroom sink, and looked into the mirror in front of me. I couldn't see straight. My reflection was a blur. I turned the tap on and splashed a little water in my face, hoping to feel refreshed. It didn't work. I was burning up and the droplets of water evaporated on my skin. I felt hot, like I had set foot on the surface of the sun. I was sure my skin was going to melt off any minute. Should I panic? Should I call my mom to come and get me? No, she would be so upset. She might even ground me. Sherry couldn't do more than call me a cab, and I could do that myself. I could call my older brother, Kevin. He might come pick me up, but then I'd have to sit through a six hour lecture about being too young for this atmosphere. What about the next party? I'd never be allowed to go, then I'd never get to see Jason. Suddenly, I was struck with anger. No, it surpassed being angry. I was filled with rage. An uncontrollable blinding fury. I wanted to break something. Someone.
(technically an excerpt from "Three Tales of Not Quite Romance", but was originally a short story)