This is another Flash Fiction piece for Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds. The theme of this story is, “Why is it so hard to accept the party is over?”
Party Over (997 words)
Solo cups littered the ping pong table. Spilt beer stained the green ping pong court. A ball sat still in a puddle of Bud Lite or worse, PBR. Bodies littered the floor, some of them snoring, cuddled together as if they had just dropped down where they had been standing. Holly sat with her back against the wall. Her eyes wanted to roll up into her head. She had won, or was it lost, at Beer Pong. Either way, a lot of cheap beer had gone down her throat and now the room moved beneath her feet.
Dan stumbled into the room. He slid down the wall next to Holly, his shirt catching halfway up and revealing his left hip bone and ab muscles. He tugged at the shirt, trying to pull it down, as he sat down next to her. Holly felt electricity filter through her body and a longing to put her hands all over Dan’s body. But Dan was just a friend. Just a friend, she reminded herself. Hands off.
Dan leaned into Holly and nestled his head on her shoulder. She leaned into him, feeling her heart beat faster. She wanted to grab his hand and squeeze it.
“I drank too much.” Dan slurred all the words.
“Is there any beer left?”
“It’s 2 in the morning.”
She looked at Dan. Brown wavy hair had fallen forward in front of his eyes. He struggled to keep them open. She knew he would pass out if she didn’t talk to him.
“Maybe I should go.”
“Don’t go,” Dan muttered, pushing his body closer to hers.
“The party’s over.”
“Nooooo.” He drew the “o” out so long then crumpled into a laugh.
“Where have you been?”
Dan pulled his head off of her and sat up straight against the white wall behind him. His green eyes opened widely as if he were suddenly the soberest person on earth. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an empty Trojan wrapper. He placed it in Holly’s hand. A grin grew on his face and then he laughed again, as if this were a personal joke between the two of them.
Holly slumped further down on the wall. She felt a lump in her throat liked she swallowed a tortilla chip the wrong way. She wanted to tell Dan how she felt. She’d wanted for so long to say, “Why don’t you see me? I’m right here waiting for you.” But she couldn’t. It was never the right time.
She thought she would tell him tonight. She thought she would come to this party, have a few drinks, then sit down with him and say, “Look. I’m in love with you.”
But it didn’t happen. First, her best friend Lindsey showed up. They had a beer, then two, then a glass of wine. Lindsey dragged her to the middle of the party to meet some guy who had acne scars on his face. What’s his face? Michael? Or Bill? Something like that. Holly couldn’t remember, yet she spent at least an hour talking to him about his trip to Borneo last spring and all the intricate details of his life. When Dan showed up, Holly had her head close to Michael/Bill, with one hand on his bicep. She saw Dan flit his eyes at her and then walk away. Why should she care anyway? They were just friends.
And so when beer pong started up, Dan joined her and they joked and kidded around for awhile, but the next thing she knew it was 2 AM and she was drunk as hell. And she hadn’t said a damn thing to Dan. Well no fucking wonder. He was off screwing another chick this whole time. She fucking hated him for that. And now she felt like she could cry.
Holly tried to stand up.
“Wait, where are you going?” Except Dan’s drunken words made it sound like, “Late, where you glowing?”
“I need to go.”
Dan reached his arm up and tried to pull Holly back down onto the floor with him.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Holly now stood in a crouch against the wall as if she were in an exercise class working on her hamstrings. The room seemed to spin around her, the ping pong table askew. She felt bile rise in the back of her throat and felt like she might throw up.
“What are you sorry about?”
“It was a party. That’s what people do.”
“I’m sorry, Holly,” only it sounded like, “I’m slorry, Horry.”
Dan’s slurs were getting worse, and Holly simultaneously wanted to run away and throw her arms around him. Instead, she sat back down on the floor with him.
“You have nothing to be sorry about,” Holly said.
She laid her head on his shoulder this time. He reached up and ran his hands through her golden-blonde hair.
I love you, Dan. The voice inside her head tried to goad her into saying it, but she pushed the words aside. They had both been partying and were drunk beyond all belief. He wouldn’t even remember it if she told him how she felt now.
How many more hours or days could she live this lie? Holly didn’t know. At the beginning of the night, she had felt so much promise. It would be like a romantic movie. She’d tell him, he’d throw his arms around her, and profess his undying love too. But life never played out that way. She’d wanted to tell him for the last year that she was sick of being his friend. She wanted more for their relationship, but there was something, some little part of her holding her back and she didn’t know why.
She closed her eyes, and she wished for the party to be over. The room spun out of control in the blackness of her mind. She leaned over and green colored vomit gushed from her mouth all over the hardwood floors. She wiped her mouth and knew tomorrow would be exactly the same as today.
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4 thoughts on “Party Over”
Ugh, I’ve been Holly. And Dan. Sometimes both at the same time. Awkward. I try to avoid the relationship stuff now, but this story hits close to home in so many ways (though I think I’m fortunate enough to not know what PBR is; most beer I drink is ale). Also, I don’t know whether this was an intentional optical illusion, but as I was reading the first couple of paragraphs, as my eyes tracked left to right, the ping-pong ball in the cup seemed to bob with motion. I had to stop and stare a few times just to make sure it wasn’t really an animated gif and I wasn’t been secretly fooled.
Good take on the prompt, even if it did bring back awkward memories. I suppose that stories make us feel something (anything) is a sign of their success!
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Thank you Urban Spaceman! PBR is Pabst Blue Ribbon. I had a particularly bad experience with it once in conjunction with raw oysters (not a good combination—just saying). The optical illusion was an accident, but I see what you’re talking about. 🙂
I’ve been Holly and Dan too. I’d like to go in there and shake them and tell them to communicate with each other. But from my experience sometimes it’s hard to tell other people about your feels, even when you should!
I’m glad this made you feel something–yes–a complete sign of success!
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Nice job! The friend zone is such a sad place 😦
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Yes, I friend zoned some people without knowing it. And I was in the friend zone at various times in my life too–one particular circumstance is still painful to me after all these years. I feel so hard for Dan and Holly, but also know life goes on and that there is freedom if letting go…