Between SATs and James's graduation, Winter Break kind of snuck up on me. Before I knew it, Erik had left for Virginia and Mei-Ling was more or less living over at Todd's house. Everyone had plans or things to do and me? Yeah I was bored. My dad figured that out after a couple days and attempted to throw me out of the house to go find some sort of fun. Didn't work until a few days later when Nai'a called.
"I'm on my way to your house right now." Nai'a said over the phone. "Get ready!"
"For what exactly?" I asked, lazily flipping through the channels on the television.
"We're going to this party I heard about." she explained. "I'll be there in a couple minutes!" And click, the line went dead. I looked down at my PJ pants and tank and realized I couldn't go to a party like this. As much as I whined about being bored over the past week, I'd grown accustomed to it and the idea of walking all the way upstairs to get dressed seemed like such a burden.
True to her word, Nai'a was ringing my doorbell a couple minutes later while I was changing. My dad must have let her in because I heard her charging up the stairs and she burst into my room as I pulled my shirt on. "That's what you're wearing to a party?!" she said
"You give me two minutes warning, this is what you get." I said. "Let's go." Ten minutes later, we were winding our way through town. "Where is this party anyway?"
Nai'a just shrugged. "Some place in the Heights division." she said. She pointed to her purse on the floor and told me I could dig the address out of it. We were pulling up by the time I'd found the scrap of paper - Nai'a had found it by the large number of cars parked anywhere that they could turn into a parking spot.
I looked at the scrap of paper in disbelief and then looked up at the house. "Ah crap." I muttered, sinking in my chair. I wished, more than anything, that I could dematerialize from this time and place and rematerialize back in my bedroom ala Star Trek.
Nai'a was grinning as she surveyed the house, the party was obviously in full swing as more and more teenagers poured through the double doors and music could be heard all around. She turned to me excitedly and then saw the look on my face and her smile disappeared. "What's wrong Gin?"
"That's V's house." I muttered.
"Oooh" she sucked in a gasp as she looked back at the house. "We can go...we don't have to go in, I just thought...." she shrugged. "I didn't know..."
"No, it's fine. Looks like every teenager from Franklin and Carson is in there - we may never even see her." I said, sitting up straighter. "Come on." I added as I climbed out of the car.
It took us ten minutes just to get through the throng of teenagers crowded in the front foyer. Veronica's house had a large open floor plan once you got past the front entryway so it was well suited for a large party. I looked over the crowd for familiar faces and saw a lot of people I knew, but no Veronica. I'm not sure if I was happy or disappointed about that.
The crowd only got thicker as the night wore on but everyone seemed to be having a good time. I still found myself searching the crowd for Veronica. Once I caught a glimpse of red hair but when I finally got a clear look at the person it turned out to be someone else.
Nai'a, who to this point, hadn't really seemed overly interested in boys had found a cute guy I didn't recognize to dance with. I meandered through the crowd until I saw Tessa with her arms crossed and a look of fury on her face. Tessa and I had never been overly close but she was nice enough. She and Alex had one of those sickeningly sweet relationships - they couldn't get enough of each other. Where there was Tessa, there was always Alex not too far away. Except tonight.
"Hey Tess." I said as I approached. "You okay?"
"Oh hi Ginny." she said quietly. My approach must have made her aware of her crossed arms because she quickly dropped them. "I'm okay I guess....Alex is late and I just ran into that Jayne girl on the way out of the bathroom saying something about it..."
Jayne Madison was one of Veronica's new "friends". Veronica could be a first class rumor mill but Jayne was probably the champion. She was horrible and I couldn't help but cringe at the thought of Veronica hanging out with her.
"Jayne is a liar and so fake I don't even remember what she used to be like." I said, actually trying to remember Jayne from elementary school.
"Yeah I know, just infuriating - as I'm sure you know." Tessa said, her fury had dissolved and I sensed tears were imminent. She's always been an emotional one.
I couldn't help but agree with her there. Not wanting to go down this particular line of discussion, I merely nodded as I scanned the crowd. I spotted a flash of dark red hair, too dark to be Veronica but within a moment, Alex came into my view. Tessa was looking elsewhere so I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed him out to her. The tears instantly disappeared and she grinned broadly before running off to greet him.
I watched for a moment as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him repeatedly. "Ugh! Too sweet!" I muttered, but I chuckled as I left the happy couple.
The party didn't stop downstairs, people had spilled up the stairs and into the various bedrooms. I knew Veronica's house almost as well as my own; as I peeked into her parents' room I shuddered - there were at least two couples making out on the beds in the midst of several party goers just dancing. The mirror above her mom's dresser had a large crack in it and there was a bright red stain on the Oriental rug. No amount of club soda was going to get it out I figured. The only door that was securely locked and undisturbed was Veronica's.
Part of me wanted to go inside for some sick reason; as if being in the room we'd shared sleepovers in and talked about boys for the first time would bring me back the real Veronica. But maybe I meant the old Veronica - maybe this was the real V? I walked back downstairs, narrowly avoiding stepping on a pair making out on the stairs.
Our eyes met across the room as my foot hit the bottom step. She was in the alcove that served as a bar with two of her other new friends; Sierra and Katie. Sierra was probably the least offensive of the gossip girls. She was mean but only ever told the truth at least. The others had no qualms about lying to get a rise out of people. "What is SHE doing here?" Veronica asked aloud.
Katie and Sierra turned their eyes to follow her gaze and soon all three were staring at me. A small part of me wanted to recoil from their stare but I was so over Veronica's crap. I rolled my eyes and went in search of Nai'a; she'd abandoned her cute boy - or maybe he was getting them drinks. "Hey" I said, joining her in dancing.
"Oh hey! You having fun?" she asked, still concerned that she'd dragged me into the lion's den.
"Yeah. It's not so bad." I said. A couple of laughing guys stumbled into me, spilling their drinks all over me. "Ugh! Watch it!" I said.
"Oh sorry Ginny" one of them said. He looked familiar enough - I think I had first period with him. He started at me with his hand as if it would absorb the liquid but I backed up just enough to avoid contact.
"I'll take care of it thanks." I said. They laughed again and continued on their stumbling path. I looked down at my new shirt and frowned. "This sucks." I said. "I'm gonna go get some paper towels to try and dry it up a bit."
I knew there were paper towels behind the bar so I head there first, mentally steeling myself for a possible encounter with Veronica. She was still there, but Sierra and Katie had gone off to party I assumed. "What are you doing here?" she practically spat when she said it.
"I had a run in with one of your guests - I just need some paper towels." I said, trying not to accept her bait, I really wasn't in the mood for her BS today. I attempted to go past her and she intentionally blocked my path. So I tried the other side - of course she shifted her weight to block me again. I rolled my eyes and stepped back. "So not worth it." I said, then I turned on my heel and walked away. I could clean up somewhere else. The mirror over the fireplace allowed me to see her sputter, flustered that I wasn't going to rile for her, without me having to give her the satisfaction of looking back.
A few days before school was set to go back, James called while I was doing the dishes. I didn't even hear the phone ring so when I noticed a missed call almost an hour later, I was surprised. I listened to the voice mail;
"Good day my fair Queen Genevieve." he said, he sounded amused as he said it and I giggled. "My plane leaves in about an hour and I just wanted to say....I wanted to say goodbye I guess." There was a long pause in which I could hear the dim activity of the airport. "Well that's it. Call me or email if you need me." The phone line went dead and my automated voice mail started giving me instructions on how to replay or delete the message.
"Dad! I'm going out!" I called, grabbing my purse and car keys. I checked the clock several times on the way to the airport. He'd said about an hour...he'd called an hour ago. I jumped out of the car and ran through the airport, causing more than a few people to turn and look at me. I skidded to a halt in front of the first status board I saw.
I searched through the departures quickly and found his flight. Scrolling across the line I wanted to cry when I saw that it was boarding! Even though I knew I couldn't catch him - even to just say goodbye in person - I continued my dash through the airport, the security station seemed to take hours as I waited my turn but finally I was through. By the time I got to his gate, the plane was pulling away. As I stood there watching his plan leave, I imagined him looking out the window and knowing I was there. "Goodbye James." I said softly against the window glass.
A half hour later, I drove over to his place and parked the car a few houses away. The houses were close together here so I could see him outside. I'd come here for a reason, least it seemed that way while I was driving. But now that I was here, I just watched him. Finally, I climbed out of the car and walked across the small lawns, many of them untended and overrun with weeds.
My feet crunched on the dry dead grass and rocks. I was sure he heard me coming but he kept himself working under the car. "Hey." I said, after watching him for a moment.