I was Andrew Harper’s girlfriend. If you asked me when it happened, or even how it happened, I couldn’t have told you, but I knew I was Andrew’s girlfriend. Last night, we’d made it Facebook official, meaning on Monday, the students in the hallways were staring at me like I was Paris Hilton.
It felt good.
After detention, instead of watching basketball practice, I met Derek for our run, and he congratulated me, but I could tell he was being sarcastic.
“Ha-ha,” I replied, my tone light and teasing as I rolled my eyes.
He was bent over, tying his shoes on the bottom bleacher. We could hear basketball practice going on next door.
“I’m serious,” he laughed. “You’re going to be cool now. Not that you weren’t cool before.”
I laughed and nudged him. “Come on. Let’s run.”
When we finished our run, Derek asked if he was taking me straight home or if I wanted to go hang out at Paulette’s for a little while.
“Oh,” I said. “I forgot to tell you. Andrew’s taking me home today. I’m sorry.”
“Hey, it’s no problem. He is your boyfriend, now.” The way he said boyfriend was like a little kid would say it teasingly. He smirked.
So I smiled. “Yes, he is.”
I told Derek I would see him later, then I walked into the main gym where Cambree was sitting with Taryn and Laurel watching the end of basketball practice. I sat down.
“Hi, Sophia!” Laurel said.
Yeah, they’d been nice to me today, since I was Andrew’s girlfriend, now. I had old Barbie’s that weren’t that fake.
“Cambree tells us your birthday’s coming up,” Taryn said. “We have some great ideas for a party!”
My blood froze. No.
“I don’t know what I’m doing for my birthday,” I told her. And whatever it was, I didn’t want her or Laurel anywhere near it.
“That’s where we come in, silly,” Laurel chuckled.
“Sophia, you know Taryn knows how to throw a party,” Cambree told me with a playful laugh. I didn’t crack a smile.
“Do you know if you could get your parents out of the house for your birthday?” Laurel asked.
Was she joking? “Uhm, no. I can’t do that.”
Laurel and Taryn exchanged looks. “OK, well, we aren’t going to get a lot of people there if there will be parents. They won’t come without beer.”
“I don’t want beer there. And I don’t want a lot of people. It’s my birthday and if you three don’t mind, I’d like to have control over it myself.”
I turned away, my eyes on basketball practice, but I could see them looking at me out of the corner of my eye.
After practice, I met Andrew, then we went out to his truck. Before we left, he rolled a joint, and cracked his window before taking a long drag and pulling away.
He offered me the joint, but I told him I couldn’t take it. Not if I was going home.
“I have eye drops,” he said. “And the windows are cracked so you won’t smell like it. You’re good. Just keep your ass calm, and your parents will never know.” He laughed. So I took his word for it and took the joint.
I wondered when I had become this girl. I had only tried it at the party to see what it was like, and I had liked it. It had scared me at first the way it had felt, and had scared me even more the way I had enjoyed it.
Andrew told me it wasn’t a big deal, though. You couldn’t get addicted to weed. It was just really, really fun.
At home, my mother wanted to discuss my birthday.
“I was thinking that since your birthday was on Friday, we can do our family thing on Friday night and you can have your party on Saturday.”
I sat across from her, doing my best to control my high. The eye drops had worked that Andrew had given me. My eyes weren’t red. But I didn’t want my mom to notice if I started acting as funny as I felt.
So I focused on the topic of my party.
“Uhm, it doesn’t matter,” I said.
She looked at me funny, and all I could think was Oh, God, I’m so busted.
“Sophia, what’s wrong with you?”
“You look tired. Did you get enough sleep last night?”
I nodded. “Yes. So, about the party. What’s better for you?”
“Well, Sophia, it’s your birthday. And it’s only two weeks away so if you have anything big in mind, we need to get started. Have you thought about your guest list?”
I shook my head. “No.” I honestly hadn’t thought about anything to do with my birthday at all. Well, except my license.
I told my mom Cambree, Laurel and Taryn had big plans for my party, and she seemed happy about that.
“If you want something big, I can hire a party planner,” she offered.
I shook my head. “I don’t want anything big.”
“How many people do you think you want to invite?”
I thought about Jenna and Mandy, and hoped they would come. Counting them, Derek, Cambree, Andrew, and maybe Ethan?
How many did I want to come? “Five.”
The next day, Tuesday, Cambree came over, at my mother’s request, to help with the guest list, since I was being ‘difficult.’
I thought about what she had said. I hadn’t been difficult last night. I had been high. I sat with them at the table and contributed to the list of party guests. At no fault of my own, Laurel, Taryn, and the whole cheer team, along with the first string basketball team ended up on the guest list.
“This is going to be great!” Cambree said excitedly. “It should be formal! Like with dresses and everything!”
“No!” I said quickly. That was the last thing I wanted, after everything she had helped my mother plan.
After deciding the party would be on Saturday, the day after my birthday, my mother called a friend of hers from book club, who was a really great party planner.
“Why aren’t you excited?” Cambree asked me.
“I didn’t want a big party,” I repeated for about the tenth time since we’d all started discussing this.
“But you’re turning sixteen. It’s your right of passage. You only have one sweet sixteen.”
“And I’d like to spend it my way. Thanks, by the way for inviting all of your friends.”
Cambree scoffed. “You’re welcome for trying to help and make sure you had a great party, Sophia.”
“It could be great if it was actually mine,” I said.
My mother hung up the phone and looked at us with a smile. “We have a meeting with Lynn tomorrow afterschool,” she told me. “Thank goodness, too. We’ll get the invitations tomorrow and so you and Cambree can start passing them out to your friends as soon as possible.”
To my friends. Right. Maybe I’d notate on the invites that no beer was allowed and we could cut the guest list in half.
When Cambree left, I stayed at the kitchen table, going over the guest list, trying to figure out who to scratch off.
“Are you excited for your party, Sophia?” my mother asked as she started to get the pots and pans out to start dinner. “We’ll call your grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins to join, also. It’ll be great!”
I cringed, still focused on the guest list. Great? I didn’t even like half the people on this list.
“You’re gonna love Lynn,” my mother continued. “She’s always showing me pictures from parties she plans. She is amazing.”
If she was so amazing, maybe she could make the whole party disappear.
The next afternoon, instead of me riding home with Cambree or Andrew after dinner, my mother picked me up and took me to her friend, Lynn’s house to go over party ideas. We’d decided on the basement for the party, so Lynn was happy with the space she had to work with.
Lynn was a tall woman, with wild, dyed-red curls. Not carrot-top red, but Little Mermaid red. I thought she was a little over the top for my taste, even for my mother’s, but I didn’t say anything, because she was my mother’s friend, and doing us a big favor, my mother had said.
“She had to squeeze us in,” my mother had reminded me on the way there. I guess it was because I hadn’t looked excited enough. “Lynn is very busy right now. She’s really good.”
I believed it, too, sitting on her couch looking through her portfolio of party themes. She did everything, from graduation parties, to Christmas parties, bridal showers, and anniversaries. I found the section with the birthday parties, and saw that the thick binder was divided according to age and gender.
Lynn had poured three glasses of tea and was sitting on the love seat across from me and my mother.
“Do you see anything you like?” she asked me.
I saw everything. There was a Western theme, a rainforest theme, even a Flower Power theme.
“Pretty In Pink is the most popular,” she told me. “Page 11.”
I flipped over and cringed. I couldn’t deal with so much pink. My mother peaked over my shoulder.
“Ooh, what’s this?” She was pointing at page 12. “Under the Stars?”
“Oh, that one’s really popular, too,” Lynn said. I looked at the picture, and saw a dim room with stars decorating the ceiling in little lights. The tablecloths, plates and napkins were all galactic-looking, but somehow, it was made to look sophisticated and not lame and childish.
“Look at this, Sophia,” my mother said. “Your friends would love this.”
I wanted to ask her if she’d like to get Cambree’s input on it, first, but I decided I’d be asking for it with that one. I shrugged. “It’s nice.”
It was the nicest one I’d seen.
My mother and Lynn decided on an Under The Stars theme for my party. Since I didn’t really care either way, I agreed.
Lynn told my mother she’d give her a call soon, then we left. It was official. I had a sweet sixteen in the making.
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