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Scenes From A Party

by Maggie McAteer

Kiara was staring again. She felt herself doing it, and reluctantly forced herself to look away. Five feet in front of her Cheryl, decked out in a tight red number, was dancing. God, she was beautiful. Cheryl smiled over at her, gesturing for the timid blonde to join in on the fun, and Kiara felt like she could explode.

“Come on!” She shouted over the loud music, “Dance with me!” For a moment, Kiara allowed herself to imagine that her friend actually meant it. That she meant it the way Kiara would have. She was jolted out of her thoughts by someone poking her in the side.

“You should go dance,” Janezka, the third of their trio and the only one who knew her feelings towards Cheryl, told her. “Really, you should.”

“I’ll dance with Cheryl when you talk to Cody.” Janezka turned a bright tomato red.

“That’s different!” She spluttered, but still took the time to sneak a glance over at the tall, dark haired boy across the room. “And besides, you’re not the one who has to sit between you two at lunch. It’s so obvious you like her.”

“But I already know she likes Quinn so it doesn’t matter.” Kiara pointed out, nodding at the boy Cheryl was pretending not to stare at. If I’m half as bad as her, she thought, it’s definitely obvious.

“So?” Janezka retorted, “If it doesn’t matter, what do you have to lose?”

· · ─────── ·𖥸· ─────── · ·

She was starting to regret coming to the dance at all. A Valentine’s Day dance they said. It’ll be fun, they said. But nobody had ever mentioned that she’d have her crush/best friend dancing right up next to her. Even Cheryl was distracted, glancing over at Quinn every five seconds.

“You know, he hasn’t suddenly morphed into an alien in the last 10 seconds,” Kiara said rather pointedly, “There’s no need to be constantly staring at him.”

“I know!” Cheryl pouted, “I just want him to notice me.” Kiara sighed, looking over at the blond boy herself. Quinn Park was standing just outside the dance floor, chatting with his friends. He was athletic, the star of their soccer team, and every girl seemed to be in love with him. Kiara didn’t get it, but then again, she wouldn’t.

Was she jealous of Quinn? Yes, of course she was. But if Cheryl was determined to only like guys, then Kiara would make sure she was happy. Even if she would be happier with me, she thought. Suddenly, Cheryl looked back over at her, studying her friend.

“What?” Across from her, the brunette frowned.

“You want me to be happy, right?” She asked. Kiara was startled by the sudden question, but her answer came immediately, almost out of reflex.

“Of course. Are you okay?” She was worried now. Cheryl never did anything like this, especially not at parties. Was it because of Quinn? Was it because of her?

Ignoring her question, Cheryl forged ahead, asking, “Would you do anything to make me happy?”

“I- I guess, but why- Are you sure that you’re okay?”

Before she could figure out what was happening, Cheryl’s lips crashed to hers.

· · ─────── ·𖥸· ─────── · ·

After the kiss, several things happened at once. From across the room, Quinn let out a long whistle, and Janezka, a strangled choking cough. At first, Kiara was too surprised to know what to do. A million thoughts raced through her head.

Does she like me? Why is she kissing me? Does she want to kiss me? Is this for Quinn? Why would she kiss me? What will everyone think? Does this mean we’re dating? What about Quinn? What does he think? Why is she still kissing me? What is this? What are we? Are we still friends? Why is she kissing me? Does she want this like I want it? Does she want it at all?

One thought wouldn’t let go. Why is she kissing me? It didn’t make sense. When Kiara had come out Cheryl had been supportive, but adamant that she wasn’t the same. Whenever Kiara had hinted that she liked her, Cheryl had always shut her down, bringing up Quinn or some other guy. So why now? Why now, when she had just been so upset over Quinn not noticing her-

The answer came to her in a flash, in the form of a smirking blond-haired boy. Gasping for breath, she pushed the other girl away, hurt tearing across her face. This is what happens when you say you’ll do anything for a friend, she thought bitterly. Her friend had wanted Quinn’s attention, and now she had it.

Cheryl looked over at her with annoyance, like Kiara was the one in the wrong.

“What the hell was that!?” Kiara was still trying to collect herself, catching her breath and piecing her thoughts together.

“You said you would try to make me happy! I need him to like me, and this was the only way to get his attention. Why can’t you just help me out?” Cheryl seemed genuinely confused, like she didn’t understand what had just happened. What she had just done.

“Because-” she struggled to find the words to explain the raging storm of feelings inside her, “Because you can’t just-”

“It’s not like it meant anything.” And there it was. The reason why Cheryl didn’t have to care, while for the other girl it changed everything. Her answer came out faster than she could stop it, faster than her mind and her heart could team up to warn her.

“It means everything to me.” Before silence could fill the space between them, before Cheryl could process, she rushed on. “I’m not going to ruin this for myself, not when I’ve wanted it for so long.” Around them, the music played loud, people laughed and danced, but in that moment all there was was two girls and the space growing between them.

“What are you trying to say?” Cheryl’s voice was quiet, and deadly. Kiara knew she should backtrack, try to save the broken remains of their friendship, but she was tired of doing that. Tired of pretending that what she wanted didn’t matter.

“I’m trying to say that I love you! And that I won’t kiss you unless it’s real and you want it for real, not like this. I won’t do that to myself. I’m past caring anymore what you think of me liking you, because if you can’t accept this then maybe we shouldn’t be friends.”

Cheryl was stunned, not by the content of the words, which she had already guessed, but by how Kiara said them. With venom and pain and yearning. She opened her mouth to respond, and maybe if she had been able to answer, things would have been okay. Maybe they could have worked it out and been able to smile and laugh like they used to. But she shut her mouth when Quinn grabbed Cheryl’s waist.

“I should go,” she said in a tight voice, shooting a piercing glare at Cheryl and Quinn. The latter kept his easy smile, secure in the knowledge that he would always win, and grasped Cheryl tighter.

The two turned to leave, and Quinn shot her a sneer over his shoulder. His eyes were teasing and they seemed to say, you’re just jealous that she actually wants to kiss me.

Before the tears forming in her eyes could start to fall, she turned and ran, only stopping to breathe once the cool night air hit her face. She sat down on the steps and watched the stars, welcoming the biting wind against her hot face. Tears streamed down it, tears of rage and unbearable sadness. This is just how it works, she thought to herself, the guy gets the girl and I end up alone.

With a room full of people only one step away, Kiara had never felt more lonely.


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