Here is the first short story I wrote for creative writing back in October. I hope you like it. I will hopefully be posting more on the blog next semester so stay tuned!
About Beer and Bad Friends
By: Avery Jam
Opal was staring again. Her mom had always told her she watched too much and spoke to little. Actually everyone had told her that all her life. It’s not that she hated talking it’s just that she hated people. But she didn’t hate Ember. Opal’s hair fell over half her face in a long black curtain as she watched Ember, from across the newspaper classroom animatedly speak about some party she had went to the weekend before last.
Ember was the kind of person everyone stared at. Her petite frame and too big green eyes drew attention, as well as her loud and joyfully manic personality. Ember’s unbrushed caramel colored hair was tucked behind her ears and she threw her head back when she laughed.
Opal was distracted from her staring by her phone notifying her of a facebook event. “Event Today at 7: Snotty Nose Ring Show @ The Boneyard.” Opal sighed and glared at her phone. Snotty Nose Ring was her best and only friend J.B.’s band. They were surf punk and totally amateur but she knew she should go for support. She had already gotten out of four shows prior and she didn’t think she could come up with another excuse for this one.
“Depression should make you automatically exempt from everything,” Opal thought to herself. “Sorry I can’t come because I’m too busy trying to drown myself in the bathtub.” She laughed breathily to herself, with the sarcastic thought.
“Hey! You’re friends with J.B. right?” Ember suddenly yelled across the room. It took Opal at least ten seconds to even realize it was directed towards her.
“Um. Yea.” She replied.
“So you’re going to his show right?” Ember continued.
“I… don’t really know. I don’t really know anyone else going,” said Opal.
At this point Ember had rolled her wheelie chair over to Opal’s side of the room.
“Duuuuuuuuude you should totally come! I mean I’m going to be there and i’m basically the coolest so.” Ember said.
Although Ember meant it in a sarcastic way, to Opal she was literally the coolest person ever. She was everything that Opal had ever tried to be and ultimately failed at being. Friendship with Ember was like the unattainable cliche hipster friendship from any indie flick ever, yet here she was sitting in front of Opal basically asking her to hang out.
“I mean it could be cool” Opal finally replied.
“Hell yea it will be cool! Come on you never do anything right? So it will be an adventure,” said Ember
Opal felt a knot form in her stomach at the mention of her near non existent social life.
“Yea ok, maybe I’ll see you there.” Opal replied.
The bell rang, signaling that class was over.
“See you tonight opulent Opal!” said Ember as she left the room.
Opal sat there for a moment taking the extra processing time she needed for uncalled social situations like this one. She decided she would go. She, Opal the girl who never did anything was going to do something, and that something was going to be with Ember the girl who did everything.
“I already know what you’re going to say, and I’m going to say fuck you come to my show,” said J.B. as he stood next to Opal’s locker.
“Fuck you, you don’t know what I was going to say” Opal replied
“I do actually, you were going to make up some lie about your dog dying or something, and then crush my hopes and dreams by telling me you weren’t going to come to my show.” J.B. stated with a knowing expression.
“Well guess what my dog is in perfect health and I’m coming, so there.” Opal snapped as they began walking down the hall.
What!? I better call the bar and tell them the one and only Opal is coming. Hell, I better call the newspaper, this is a goddamn event!” J.B. cheered.
“Oh shut up, this is not my first time going out,” Opal said.
“You’re right, you came to my twelfth birthday party four years ago,” J.B. said with a smirk.
“I am diagnosed with can’t go anywhere or do anything disorder,” Opal said in a fake melancholy tone as they reached the end of the hall where they would separate.
“I know depression sucks but it doesn’t mean it can stop everything ok?” J.B. said in a suddenly serious tone. “I’ll see you tonight kid,” then J.B turned to chase his bandmate down the hall, as Opal stared after him thinking about all the ways to stop everything.
Getting into the bar was easier than she thought it would be. A simple “I’m nineteen” and she was walking through the door with an x on the front of each hand. The space was the definition of “dive bar.” Low red lighting barely lit up the room and the floor was sticky with beer . The radio played in the background, and in front of Opal, there was a stage, where J.B. and his band were setting up. J.B. raised his hand towards her in greeting and Opal waved back at him. She perched on a stool and looked around at the other people taking up space in the room. A few men were gathered around the bar, clearly only attending for the drinks. A few other teens were standing around waiting for the show.
Opal was interrupted from her observations by a tap on her shoulder. She turned around and was met with Ember’s bright eyes. “OH MY GOD YOU CAME!” Ember yelled, drawing attention to the two girls. Opal pulled into herself as she responded. “Yea. I – uh thought it would be cool,” she said. Out of nowhere Ember grabbed Opal’s phone, punching her number into the contacts. “There!” Ember began sending herself Opal’s number, “Hope you’re ready to be best friends!”
Opal looked up at the other girl with wide eyes. Before she could even respond, Ember was pulling her to her feet as as J.B. began to announce his band.
“We’re Snotty Nose Ring, and this is our brand new song I’m a highschooler and my life sucks!” The heavy guitar began to blast through the speakers. Punk music filled the room as the people surrounding Opal began to jump around. “Come on Opal!” Ember yelled while trying to pull Opal into the pit. “I’m good here thanks!” Opal shouted over the noise. “No!” said Ember. “Tonight I am going to make you less boring!”
Opal felt like she had been punched in the stomach. Did people think she was boring? It wasn’t really her fault she didn’t have many friends. But maybe Ember was right. Of course Ember was right. Ember was the most exciting person around and if she could be like Ember than she would have lots of friends. So with a burst of crazy determination, Opal grabbed Ember’s hand and was pulled into the sweaty, loud, cluster.
All of a sudden, Opal was twirling and jumping around in bright bursts of light. People ramming against her, probably causing bruises to blossom on her paper white skin. The beat of the music pounded in her head and Opal felt alive. She never felt alive anymore, but right then, in between all those bodies she felt the sliver of hope that she could be. Ember jumped around next to her and gave her a wild smile. Ember was crazy and Ember was living and Opal wanted that. In moments it was over, the music dying down and Ember dragging Opal to the bar to get some water.
“Very good my apprentice!” said Ember. “Hey a group of us are planning on leaving halfway through the show to drive around and have some drinks. You should totally come!” I’ll give you the real high school experience.”
In all of Opal’s sixteen years of life she had never been drunk, not because she didn’t want to be but just because no one had ever liked her enough to ask. “Sure” she responded breathlessly.
“Sweet!” said Ember. “I’m going to run to the bathroom. I’ll come get you when we’re ready to leave!” and with that she was gone.
Opal half expected Ember to leave the venue without her knowing, but sure enough Ember came back five minutes later with three other girls in tow. She’d seen two of them in the halls at school and the third was a complete stranger. “Ready to go Opal?” Ember questioned. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” Opal replied. “Sweet! This is Jade, our designated driver this evening,” Ember said gesturing towards the brunette with glasses behind her. “And this is Lizzy and Bella,” she continued pointing out the remaining two girls. “Guys this is Opal, now that introductions are out of the way, let’s go drink! I cannot remain conscious any longer!”
The girls made their way out of the bar and walked towards Jade’s car. “Soooo I have 2 packs of Red’s right now, Do you think you’re going to want more?” said Jade.
“Yes! Let’s stop at Albertson’s first,” said Ember.
“What’s Red’s?” questioned Opal.
“It’s this really good apple flavored beer, you’re going to love it!” said Ember.
They piled into the car. Jade driving, Lizzy riding shotgun, and Opal, bella, and Ember, piled in the back, with Ember in the middle. Before the car had even left the parking lot, Opal was being handed a beer bottle. Opal looked at the bottle warily before taking large sip. It tasted like apple juice that was set on fire. It warmed her insides as she continued to drink. A few minutes later they had arrived at Albertsons.
“How are you going to get the beer? No one in this car is 21?” Opal asked.
“We’re going to steal it silly duh! Don’t worry you don’t have to come in. We’ll take care of it, Don’t want the newbie getting arrested on her first night out.” Ember said.
Opal thought about the irony of Opal’s statement, considering they were minors driving in a car with over 12 bottles of beer already. She watched Ember and Jade run through the parking lot.
They returned ten minutes later, with two bags in hand.
“Oh my God the lady at self checkout literally told us to have a goodnight as we walked out with the bags, that was so close,” Ember grinned as she explained the crime.
Her cheeks were flushed from the cold and her smile lit up the car.
Jade drove them all around the city. Ember loaned Opal her jacket and Opal promptly spilt beer on it. She apologized profusely but Ember just laughed and leaned against Opal’s shoulder. Ember was one of the happiest people Opal had ever seen. Jade and Ember recounted their many adventures together to the newer girls in the car. Opal smiled at the cliche stories, thinking about how normal it all sounded.
They drove to the edge of town. The large trees stretching up into the sky, illuminated by the suddenly visible starlight. Opal was now on her 3rd beer and things had started to become fuzzy around the edges.
“I have to pee,” declared Opal.
“Me too! Jade, pull over at the gas station up ahead,” Ember agreed.
Jade pulled over at the rest stop while Opal and Ember hopped out of the back seat. Opal hadn’t realized just how drunk she was until she stood up. Or tried to stand up the second her foot touched the ground, the world was spinning and the next thing she knew was her face being on the ground instead of her feet. Opal giggled to herself.
“C’mon Opal! Get off the ground and don’t act suspicious!” said Ember pulling Opal to her feet. The two girls wandered into the gas station. They were single stall bathrooms in the gas station so Opal went in the women’s and Ember went into the men’s. While washing her hands Opal looked at herself in the mirror.Through her blurred vision she saw her cheeks were flushed and she had an unintentional smile on her face. She understood why people become alcoholics. There was something about being inebriated that pulled the pain right out of you.
Opal stumbled out of the bathroom to see Ember waiting for her.
“Come on let’s hurry back to the car before someone sees you, you look absolutely wrecked,” said Ember confirming what Opal had already seen in the mirror. Opal giggled and her and Ember wandered back to the car. Jade drove them around some more. Ember pulled out a pipe and some weed. “You want some?” She questioned Opal. “No I’m ok mumbled Opal “I think that one mind altering substance is enough for one night,” she continued while nursing her 5th beer.
“Ok, that will be a lesson for next time,” Ember replied smiling.
After that things became a blur for Opal. She told the other girls a lot of things and to her surprise they listened. She told them about the bathtub a few months earlier and how she wished to this day that she had been able to stay underwater for just one more minute so the arms of death could take her. She told them about how sometimes late at night, the blood dripped down her arms and she felt like she couldn’t control it. They comforted Opal and told her it was ok and that sometimes they were sad too. She told them about how lonely she was and they responded with coos of friendship and care. She felt cared for. For the second time that night Opal felt alive.
Towards the end of the night Opal found herself nodding off as she layed on Ember’s shoulder.
“You know, you’re a piece of work Opal. For someone so quiet you have a very loud mind. Ember said
Opal nodded silently against Ember’s shoulder.
“I’m going to fix you.” Ember continued. “We’re going to have adventures and do so many things you won’t have time to be sad.
Opal smiled to herself. She hoped beyond hope that what Ember said was true.
Things that happen on a Friday night can change completely on a Monday morning. After Jade had dropped Opal off at her house on Friday night, Ember and the other girls went back to the show. Ember continued to drink until Jade had to find somebody to give her a ride home because she was too inebriated. J.B took her home and when they arrived J.B’s car got stuck in the snow. They made a lot of noise trying to get the car unstuck. So much noise that they woke up Ember’s mom. Seeing her daughter falling over in the snow drunk infuriated her. Ember told her mom that it was Jade’s idea in order to stay out of trouble. Her mom called the school the next morning, and got Jade and Lizzy kicked off the debate team. That Monday they were all scheduled to go to drug and alcohol counseling. Ember refrained from mentioning Opal and Bella, seeing as it was the first time either of them had been drunk.
All this was recounted to Opal by Ember who told her during lunch that Monday.
“Well thank you,” said Opal once Ember had finished the story.
“Yea of course. Anyway… I don’t think we should hang out anymore.”
“Wait what?” questioned Opal “What does you getting caught have anything to do with us hanging out?”
“I just think you’re not the best influence for me right now, I mean I’m going to try to get my shit together and I just don’t think that being around someone who’s as negative as you is good for me.” Ember said.
A million thoughts raced through Opal’s head. Was she really that negative? Did people trying to better themselves think that she was some kind of obstacle? How was this fair? Why was the one thing that made her feel alive now making her feel dead? All these thoughts ran through her head and the only words she could get out were
With that, Ember gave her a sad smile and left the classroom.
Opal felt tears well up in her eyes. She was mad at herself for crying over this. She scratched her arms until the scars that littered them turned red and angry.
“Opal? Are you ok?”
Opal jolted her head up to see Jade standing in the doorway.
“Yea. Yea I’m fine.” Opal responded. Trying to plaster a smile on her face.
“Did she stop talking to you too,” Jade said giving her a sympathetic smile.
Opal couldn’t control the tears now and she just simply nodded. Jade came over and wrapped her arms around Opal.
“Hey, don’t cry. We don’t need her,” said Jade.
The two girls sat like that for a minute until Opal’s tears eventually subsided.
“You want to grab some coffee after school?” Jade asked.
“Yea I’d like that,” Opal responded.
That was the thing about beer and bad friends, they both led to better people.