Mia clenched the keys so hard in her fist that the copy of her brother's old apartment key cut into her flesh. The thought of seeing Stella made her more angry than she could bare. It didn't matter that Charlie was Stella’s best friend. She didn't care who her friends were. The idea that she was showing up at their New Years party was so ridiculous. She had to know Mia would be there. She had to know that she and Parker had been friends since her family moved to Toronto. Everyone knew. She was doing it purposely, knowing how much it would hurt her and her family. And the idea of her moving in with Parker, having to see her on a regular basis, sickened Mia.
But she promised Parker she would be on her best behaviour. Mia promised she wouldn't start a scene, wouldn't embarrass him, especially at his party. Even when she promised that nothing would happen Mia was well aware that Parker didn't believe her. The way he furrowed his eyebrows and clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth told her he wasn't convinced. But Mia really did mean it when she said she would be on her best behaviour for the party. She had no intentions of making a scene. Instead she was going to drink far too much and find the cutest boy in the room to befriend for the evening. It was New Years eve. There was no time for drama. Not that night at least.
Mia pushed open the front door and tripped over a pair of shoes that were left lying in the middle of the hallway. They didn’t belong to her or her parents, but she knew exactly whose they were. In anger she kicked them against the wall and stormed into the living room. Without looking at her parents or their guest, she threw the keys on the coffee table and stormed up the stairs to her room. Before slamming the door shut she heard the sound of his feet on the stairs. Mia pulled her coat off and threw it onto the bed before he entered her room. Without facing him she said, “I told you to do your own thing tonight.”
Mia moved to the mirror and looked at her make-up. Her skin, still retaining a hint of summer’s sun, didn’t need much more than a little mascara and lip gloss, but she had added glimmer to her eyelids before she left the house that night. It was more than enough, she thought to herself. There was no need for make-up to make her green eyes pop. They were already so vibrant that they couldn’t be ignored by anyone. She had perfectly arching eyebrows that she spent very little time on. Full lips that were complete with a little gloss. She knew she was a natural beauty. She’d been told so her entire life.
“I know you didn’t really mean it,” Brad told. She turned around to face him, brushing her tangled cherry red hair with her fingers in an act of annoyance. Brad advanced toward her, trying to take her body in his arms. She moved around the edge of the bed and said, “I meant it. You’re fucking delusional sometimes. I swear.”
“Mia, you’re supposed to be my New Years kiss,” he reminded her. As if she’d forgotten. She knew how it was supposed to be, but she cared very little for those things. Nothing turned out the way they were supposed to. This New Years eve would be no exception, clearly, she thought to herself as she pulled off her yellow Cut Copy t-shirt and replaced it with a nearly see-through, white button up shirt. It didn’t close across her chest and exposed the black bra she was wearing. Brad watched her; she could see him in the mirror. She left on her jeans and turned back to him, “Lucy’s going to be my New Years kiss. I already promised her.”
“I know this New Years is going to be really hard for you, Mia. I know this is your way of deal and I want to be there for you,” Brad went on. It was exactly the last thing she wanted to hear. The entire day had been avoiding such comments, because she knew they were coming. She knew it was all anyone wanted to stay to her. That was why she was showing up to the party late. That’s why she was showing up alone, to spend the night with someone who knew little to nothing about her.
“You bring that up tonight and you’ll be single going into 2010, got it?” Mia put her hands on her hips and said, “Don’t even push those buttons tonight, Brad. I need to have fun.”
There was very little he could say to that. Instead he went silent and waited while she grabbed some money and rolling papers from her vanity drawer. She grabbed her coat again and said, “It’s almost eleven-thirty. I’m going to Parker and Charlie’s. You’re going…Where ever. I’ll call you tomorrow, alright?” She headed toward the door and flicked off the bedroom light. Brad didn’t follow, so she walked down the steps, leaving him alone in the dark. As casual as possible, she waved to her parents before heading out the front door and hailing the first cab she saw.
It was a short cab ride to Parker’s. The party was more than in full swing when she got there. A couple were making out against the neighbour’s tree. A girl in a tiny red dress had puked on herself, her red silk shoes and on the curb. Mia stepped over her and headed up the steps to the front door. Someone called out her name, but she ignored them and walked into the front hallway. It was hot the moment she was in the house. It meant the dance floor was ready established. As she turned into the living room she realized how right she really was. Already the living room and attached dining room was backed with moving bodies. It was hard to make her way through the swaying and jumping bodies to the kitchen. A group of Parker’s barely-legal friends from the skate parks were hanging around looking rather bored.
“Mia, right?” One of them asked. He was the taller of the boys. He gave off the alpha male vibe, but Mia knew that was only because Parker wasn’t around. When he attempted to hand her a red plastic cup, filled with beer, she pushed his hand away and said, “No thanks, kiddo.”
“Kiddo?” He laughed out loud. His friends did too.
“Yeah, you heard me.” Mia went to walk away, but he stepped in front of her.
“A kid? We had classes together all through high school. Don’t even try to play like that,” he told her. Mia has to stop and think about his name. She came up with nothing. With a tiny shrug she asked them, “Where’s Parker? You seen him around?”
“He’s not in the living room filming?” One of the other boys asked her. Mia shook her head.
“It’s because he’s upstairs with that girl…What’s-her-name. The weird one,” another one said. They all nodded and went back to filling their glasses with beer.
“I bet I can make it so you never forget my name again.” The tallest boy whispered to her. He winked at Mia despite the look of disgust that crossed her face. As she attempted to walk away he pulled her back and told her, “Find me later.” With one swift tug, she pulled her arm from his grip and headed up the stairs to find Parker. She knew exactly who he was with.
Her assumption was right. When she made it to the top of the stairs she had to stop. Stella was standing in the hallway. A dirty back pack was at her feet while she stared at the photographs on the wall. Not much had changed about her except the few inches her hair had grown. Mia smiled at the realization that Stella had putting on a noticeable amount of weight. What ever she’d done while she was gone hadn’t been for the better and that’s what Mia was hoping to see.
But after a moment of realizing her flaws, Mia felt a tightness in her chest. She held onto the edge of the wall while staring at Stella. The sight of her made Mia dizzy. She was so angry that her thoughts were racing through her head faster than she could acknowledge them.
Parker was approaching from the other set of stairs down the hallway. Mia wanted to scream out to him, tell him not to go near her. But he keep on moving forward. In his hand was a camera, filming Stella and maybe even Mia herself. If her phone hadn’t rung she might have yelled out something she would come to regret. Instead she moved back down the stairs and said, “Yeah, Lucy. I’m here. Don’t worry. I saw here and didn’t make a scene.”