Void, page 1
by Amy Luppino
Copyright 2014 Amy Luppino
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I can almost feel my pupils constrict as my eyes spring open to the piercing morning sunlight. It takes a second for me to realise that I’m in Randy’s guest bedroom, and an arm with a silver bracelet is loosely wrapped around my waist.
I roll over and look at Zack. His face is relaxed in sleep for once, but I can see that last night left a slight impression. His lips are arched into a subtle smile and his breathing is light, peaceful and satisfied. I roll back over to the edge of the bed and slide out slowly, careful not to wake him. I check the time on my phone on the nightstand – just past seven-thirty am. I rub my eyes and listen hard. The ringing silence tells me no one else is awake. I open the nightstand draw and find what I want – some post-its and a pen. I write ‘Thank you’ and peel it off and stick it to Zack’s forehead. He wriggles but doesn’t wake. I take quiet steps to open the door and go down the stairs. I walk through all the fallen streamers, dumped plastic cups, party hats and passed out guests. I notice my boyfriendRiley and my friends Randy, Cassie and Elle are covered in colourful thin streamers on the couches outside, asleep. I stand in front of the glass doors looking at them for a moment, then I walk off back through the mess and let myself out.I could call my brother Dale to come pick me up, but I decide to walk home to ease the stiffness in my thighs. Without warning or intention, yesterday surges through my brain like electricity through the power lines above.
‘So who’s coming tonight?’ I asked Randy as I stepped up on the chair.
‘Zack’s not coming until later if that’s what you mean, Skylar,’ Randy sassed as he taped his end of the ‘Happy New Year’ banner onto one side of the archway.
I taped the other end and pressed it down firmly, eyeing him in the same way. ‘No. He shouldn’t be coming at all,’ I muttered hotly.
Randy ignored me. ‘Pretty much everyone is coming,’ he said, as we stepped down from the chairs. ‘Not surprised. I think this party will be a first for all of us.’
He was right. It was a step into the threshold of something new… something called alcohol. Randy had put some aside for us and Elle was bringing some too. I planned to have one drink, any drink, just something to bring me into the New Year, but not stop me from fulfilling my plans with Riley. The bed in the guest bedroom was readyfor us.
An hour later, the streamers were loosely hanging around the house, the party hats, paper blowouts, red plastic cups and sparklers were on the bar outside next to some snacks and the keg of beer. Randy’s sister’s friends starting piling in as well as ours. Riley seemed to be the last to arrive with Cassie and Elle. Randy and I got up from one of the outdoor couches and pushed through everyone to meet them at the bar.
‘Why aren’t you guys drinking yet?’ Elle trilled over the heavy bass. She held up a bottle of what looked like vodka. ‘It’s okay, I brought this.’
Shepoured a few of shots on the bar. Cassie took one first.
‘Whoa! Strong!’ she said, screwing up her face. ‘But maybe one more.’
Riley chugged his beer, butI refused the cup Randy got for me.
‘Later,’ I told him and he gave it to Elle.
We stayed on the couches during the first awkward hour of the party. Our classmates came up to us from time to time for a chat and a drink. I noticed they were speaking a little louder than normal, and not because the music was too loud. Riley and the others seemed to be getting that way too so I decided it was time to have a drink. Elle poured me a shot of vodka and told me to toss it into my mouth all at once. I pressed my lips against the brim as they egged me on.
‘Skylar! Skylar! Skylar!’ they chanted loudly.
I grinned and tossed it back. The clear liquid that just looked as pure as water burned my throat on the way down. It made my eyes water. I stuck out my tongue to show them it was gone and they cheered, having themselves another drink. Everyone was drunk enough to dance now. The burning sensation in my mouth had subsided so I poured myself a beer from the keg and followed the group inside. There were flashes of white light on everyone’s face as fast as I could blink. We laughed as Randy made some funny faces every time it flashed. We danced for hours to the beat and raised our cups before we took a drink. The full cup of beer I had lasted me for what felt like a long time, while the others had several drinks and shots. They seemed to have surpassed the stage I was at. Their dancing had become clumsy and their words were a slurred mess. I didn’t feel drunk, I think, but sort of euphoric and relaxed like all my problems had just disappeared like the wisps of smoke from the ends of the college guys’ cigarettes into the crisp air. Soon enough, Cassie had taken Elle to the bathroom. When I realisedthey had been gone for a while,I grabbed Riley and Randy’s hands and pushed through everyone dancing. Theycollapsed on the floor near the staircase.
‘You – you know, Skylar,’ Riley stuttered, rolling his head around to face me. His eyes had an absent stare about them. ‘I’m having a really g-good time.’
‘I know you are,’ I said hotly.
I was surprised he picked up on my tone with his impaired senses. ‘Don’t worry you’ll still get to have me to-tonight!’
‘Yeah!’ Randy chimed in with an intoxicated grin. ‘L-let him sober up now, Skylar. Water! Get him some w-water! We’ll sit here and sober up before midnight!’
I couldn’t risk us having another argument, drunken or not. I grabbed a bottle of water from the ice bucket, but when I came back they had passed out. I bent down and slapped Riley’s face and even poured a little water on his head but he didn’t stir.
‘Riley!’ I said hastily, shaking him. ‘Riley, wake up! What are you doing?’ His eyes fluttered half open then he groaned, mumbling something. I tried with Randy. He did the same but I understood what he mumbled.
‘He’s – he’s done for, Skylar. There’s no w-way you can do it now.’
I ignored his drawl and stood up, pulling at Riley’s arm, but he wouldn’t budge. I let it go fiercely and it flopped back on the floor. I looked up into the hallway. I didn’t think twice about leaving them and Elle probably being sick in the bathroom while Cassie held back her hair. I didn’t think twice about anything. I just threw the bottle of water down in some intense frustration and ran out the front door straight into Zack’s arms.
‘What the f–! Skylar?’
Zack didn’t let go once he realised it was me under the little light the moon provided from behind the clouds. ‘Where are you going? It’s almost midnight!’
‘Let me go, Zack!’ I cried, twisting and turning to break free from his grip. ‘I’m going home!’
‘What? Now? No, you’re not! Not at this time!’
‘Oh, yes I am!’ I writhed some more. ‘Let go! You can’t keep holding onto me like this!’
He scoffed, still maintaining his claw-like grasp on my arms. ‘I know I can’t but I bet Riley isn’t going to come out and chase you so I will. So if you don’t want me to follow you all the way home, come back inside with me.’
Before I could either relent or start squirming again, the loud countdown began from inside.
‘TEN, NINE, EIGHT…!’
Zack took the risk and slowly took his hand off me.We turned our heads watched everyone through the front window waving their sparklers and embracing each other as they counted down.
‘…THREE, TWO, ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!’
Somewhere behind Randy’s house, firewo
‘Happy New Year, Skylar,’ he said in almost a whisper. ‘Let’s go.’
The party was still raging on. People were still drinking and dancing and making out in the corner. I caught a glimpse of the base of the stairs. Riley and Randy weren’t there anymore. Zack tapped my shoulder.
‘Is this what you’re looking for?’ he said in my ear, pointing tothem passed out outside on the couches. I could see they were lying on their sides and twitching in their sleep. They were out cold, but alive.
‘I want to check the bathroom,’ I told Zack. ‘Cassie and Elle went in there before.’
He nodded and we squeezed between all the people dancing to get to the hallway. We checked the toilet line and the bathroom next to it. They weren’t in there so we went upstairs and checked Randy’s room first. They were in his bed, curled up asleep.
Zack chuckled to himself as he closed the door. ‘Randy, you dog!’
I started to say that he wouldn’t care as we went back down the stairs, but a college guy bumped into me, slurred an apology and stumbled his way up.
‘I’m following you,’ Zack shouted.
‘The guys are here somewhere,’ I shouted back. We were standing right next to one of the speakers. The euphoric feeling was wearing off so the beat was too intense for my ears and my voice was strained. ‘Don’t you want to hang with them?’
‘Then lead the way.’
I took one last look at him to see if he was being serious or not. He didn’t want to party with his buddies? I suddenly felt strange. I couldn’t blame it on the alcohol. Zack found some stray party hats and paper blowouts. We put the hats on and blew to the rhythm of the music while we sat against the wall of the stairs a bit too close for comfort but at least we didn’t have to shout every time we spoke.
‘So how did it come to be that you were going to run home and Randy and the others have crashed for the night?’ Zack asked.
‘I don’t know, they just drank a bit much,’ I said indifferently, turning away.
‘Obviously,’ he stated, rolling his eyes. ‘What else happened?’
I leaned my head back against the wall and looked up to the ceiling, sighing. ‘Maybe you should just hang with the guys. They’re probably wondering where you are.’
‘No, I’m not going anywhere,’ he said in the softest tone I had ever heard him speak in. ‘Like I said, you think I don’t know, but I do. Even you, Skylar Adams, can’t control everything. Riley’s going to regret this.’
Even in the darkness of the living room, I could see the sincerity in those oceanic eyes. I wasn’t fooled because he wasn’t fooling me. I said nothing and let him whisper in my ear.
‘I’d apologise for trying to come between you guys, but I can’t, I just can’t. I’m not sorry…’
He leaned forward and gave me a feather-light kiss on the cheek. ‘I know it’s not the midnight kiss you wanted, but it’s something.’
‘Zack…’ I breathed. It’s all I could manage while I was clinging on trying not to fall into the depths of those eyes.
I don’t know what made me stand up. I walked through the dizziness and the crowd to the stairs. I could feel the brush of Zack’s hand on my back behind me. I opened the door of the guest bedroom, we walked in and Zack closed it. I blinked, that’s it, and he scooped me into his arms for a kiss. I kissed him back almost right away and then we fell onto the bed. He left a trail of kisses between my neck and stomach. I didn’t stifle a moan. I let it all out and so did he. We took off each other’s clothes while we were tangled in the sheets like a game of Twister. I titled my head back, sighing with relief and pleasure. Just like that our two bodies had become one on my one year anniversary with Riley…
And now as I walk home to an empty house, the wind catches up with me and then speeds past like an invisible force, swaying me to race home, but I’m in no hurry.Riley will wake up and discover Zackin the bed prepared for us with the note on his forehead and spots of blood on the white sheets. He’ll hear him out before punching him out. He’s not one to jump to conclusions.My phone will explode with calls and messages. Perhaps there will beloud, persistent knocks on my door, but if Dale doesn’t let him in, I won’t see him until we go back to school. I can’t control everything, but I’m always ready.
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About the author:
Amy Luppino is an Edith Cowan University graduate, with a degree in Health Science, majoring in Addiction, Mental Health and Women’s Studies. In 2012, she was the recipient of the ‘Hypatia’ Women’s Studies Writing Prize. She is currently completing her post-graduate Professional Writing Diploma at Edith Cowan.
Thank you for reading my book! If you enjoyed it, please consider leaving me a review.