a good friend

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


our narrator goes to a seemingly normal party. as the story unfolds, however, the dark state of the story's world is revealed and the narrator's true goals surface with unintended consequences.

Submitted: May 08, 2018

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Submitted: May 08, 2018

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Tonight was the night. I had arrived at the house and confirmed it was the right address. I ran through my plan one more time: get in there, greet as many people as possible to win them to my side before tomorrow, and don’t be selected.

 I only really knew one person there, and I wasn’t sure where they were. I figured I should probably give myself a tour and make my rounds. I needed to greet as many people as possible before the selection tomorrow.

 I was ranked right at number 46th from the bottom. I needed to move up two spaces if I didn’t want to be selected. I remember when the selections started. Everyone was in disbelief ‘cause they didn’t think the government would go that far. We all knew overpopulation was getting to be a problem, but we never thought they would just start eliminating people.

 Basically, the way the selection works is that you can fill out this form on a government website. It lists everyone who lives by you, and you rank them from most liked to least liked. When it’s time for the selection, government officials round up however many people they need from the bottom of the list and, well, dispose of them. All you need to do to not be selected is be more highly ranked than the lowest number they need. So, for instance, if they announced that they were going to select 50 people, you’d be safe if you were at least 51st from the bottom.

 So back to the party. The whole reason I came (even though I barely knew anyone there) was to sort of, you know, remind people that I existed. It’s a lot harder to rank someone low when you were just face to face with them, having a conversation.

 I figured I’d go talk to the party’s hostess first, since they were a friend of a friend. Remember how i mentioned I only knew one person at the party? Her name’s Linsey Short. She had been friends with the hostess (I keep calling her simply “the hostess” because (at the time (though this would later change)) I didn’t know her name).

 From the house’s entrance, the path diverged into three directions. There was a living room in front of me, and what looked like a kitchen to the right of that. To my right was a hallway that looked like it connected to the kitchen. There was another hallway to the left of me, but I wasn’t sure where it lead to.

 I figured I’d make my way to the kitchen, since it looked like there were people in there. No one I knew; most of the partygoers were probably outside (judging by descriptions I’d heard of some of the many prior parties (the hostess was quite the socialite), the backyard was the real life of the party). The other people there and I introduced ourselves to one another. People offered their names, which vanished from my memory as quickly as they had appeared, and inquired as to the things one normally inquires about when meeting someone new. Things like “Got any family?” or “See anything good on T.V. lately?”.

Overall, nothing too important, but it’s the getting out there and meeting people that’s the important part.

I figured I had a pretty good chance at making it through the selection, since I only needed to move up two spots to be okay. The two people directly above me in the ranking were Stephania Weekes and Robbie Hawking. Stephania was an average-looking girl with dark brown hair. She wasn’t unattractive, I suppose, but she was nothing special. I was sure she wasn’t going to be climbing the ranks any time soon. She wasn’t a very popular girl, sadly for her. Robbie, on the other hand, would be a bit more difficult to pass. He was a fairly well-known young man who was particularly tall and had curly, black hair. He was popular with his group of tough, punk-looking friends. Though, I guess it’s better to say he had been fairly popular, since, last selection, a large number of his posse had been at the bottom of the list. The obvious upside for me was that he had fewer close friends to bump his ranking up. The downside, though, was that people felt sorry for him, losing so many of his own. People love sympathy voting.

 I still had a shot, though. I was the only one of the two who was gonna be at the party, so I’d still be the fresher one in people’s memories when it came time to update their lists. All I had to do was meet as many people as I could, maybe tell a sob story or two.

As I stepped out of the kitchen door onto the patio, I scanned the place to try and find the hostess. She was always surrounded by people, and would be a perfect starting point for rallying. I spied her standing by a group of people, but Linsey caught sight of me before I could cross over to the group and sparked up a conversation. “Hey,” she started. “How are you doing?”

“Pretty well, I guess. I just have to pass two people to be safe,” I replied. “At least until next time”.

“Seems like the selections are getting more and more rare,” Linsey said, in an attempt to ease my thoughts. “When was the last one? Two years ago, right?”

“It was last year. The one before that was two years before that one”.

“Oh, right. That one must’ve slipped my mind”.

I began to think about the best way to endear myself to the group of people the hostess was with. Oh! I needed to find out her name. “Hey, you know your friend who’s throwing this party?”

“You mean Katherine?” Linsey asked.

“Yeah. Her”. I confirmed

“What about her?” Linsey continued her inquisition

“Oh, nothing. I just couldn’t remember her name”.

“Kelvin! That’s, like, the third time you’ve forgotten her name!”

“Sorry! You can’t expect me to remember everyone’s name”.

“You so haven’t heard the end of this. But, for now, let’s just work on moving you up that list”. Finally, she was saying something worthwhile.

As we turned to approach the group, something caught my eye. I spied someone with a very particular appearance. No, it couldn’t be. And yet it was. I saw, from the other side of the yard, the curly, black hair of Robbie Hawking. He wasn’t supposed to be here! My whole plan depended on his not being here, and now it was ruined. I would never be able to pass him like this! I would have to do something. Something to make people pity me and hate Robbie at the same time. I walked up to the group and said hi. Linsey caught up and introduced me to the group. I went through each of its members, greeting them with a handshake, until I came to Robbie.

“Hey, man. Best of luck,” I told him. This was good. I had, very publicly, wished him the best. You can’t do better than the best; he could only do worse.

“You too”.

I should’ve seen that coming. Of course he would’ve planned on me saying that. He was too smart not to. He extended his hand out for me to shake, along with a seemingly heartfelt smile that I knew was really just his way of taunting me. But I was a quick thinker. Just as quickly as he reached his hand out for me to shake it, I reached out my arms and embraced him in a hug. Who’s more compassionate now, biatch?

We continued conversing with the group for a while longer. Eventually, feeling satisfied with my display of empathy, I decided to go talk to other people around the party. As we were walking away, Linsey said something. “That Robbie dude, he’s a couple spaces above you, right?”.

“Yeah. If I move up past him, I’ll be in the green. I think I did pretty good with that group”.

“Really?”

“Yeah,” I was taken aback. Was she doubtful? “Feels like I really won ‘em over”.

“Huh. It seemed kinda awkward back there. Like they were already on Robbie’s side but didn’t wanna break the news to you”.

She was right. How had I not seen it sooner? I had wasted so much time talking with them. What I thought was progress had really just been mere courtesy. There was no way I was going to pass Robbie. Then, it hit me: I didn’t need to pass Robbie, I just needed to pass someone. I raced through my options mentally. I already tried making myself look good. My only other option was to make someone else seem bad. The only questions were who and how? Well, I could think of two ways how to do it. The first of which was to, somehow, manipulate someone into doing something outrageous at the party, such as attacking another person (preferably me, if I wanted the sympathy from it). Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure that I had enough time left until the party would be over to set all of that up. So, since that was out of the question, all that was left was option 2: make people think that someone had done something bad. Spread a rumor about some shameful secret or something. It would spread fast enough that enough people would hear about it and hopefully rank that person lower than me for me to make it through the selection.

Now that I had the how, all I needed was the who. To make the rumor believable, it had to be someone I know. Someone who would tell me a secret like that. Well, unfortunately, there was only one person who fit that description. I asked Linsey if she could scope out the rest of the party for people to win over while I talked to another group we had just spotted at a table. Now that she was gone, all that was left was to think of a rumor. It wasn’t too hard; everyone knew Linsey was unhappily single. It wouldn’t be too hard for them to believe.

“Did you hear what Linsey did?”

Everyone leaned in with anticipation. This particular group of people had become well-known gossipers. A perfect place to spread my lie. “I heard, from a friend of a friend, that she slept with Mr. Hurst”.

“Really?” one exclaimed

“I knew something like this was bound to happen eventually,” another said

“You did not,” replied a third

“Wow,” started another one. “I knew she was desperate, but I had heard she was going after you”.

With my work done, I quickly found an excuse to leave the party. The rest of the night went by quickly, without the strain of trying to make it to a higher spot. Linsey and I got something to eat and spent most of the night talking. It was a shame. She was such a good friend, but sometimes we just have to make sacrifices.


© Copyright 2018 Skyler Powers. All rights reserved.

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