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For Christmas, I received a book of “questions for creative exploration”. They are writing prompts, not all questions, and I decided that I would include my responses to them in my blog. They’re meant as daily exercises, but I just picked one I liked and got to work. Because I’m a rebel, baby! I also slightly deviated from the instructions because the book’s not the boss of me. The exercise for this day was…

At a raucous house party, one woman stands alone near an open window with a smirk on her face. What’s her story?

The thumping bass rattled my teeth and vibrated my ribs. I stared at the purple beverage in my red plastic cup to see if it rippled, as if in response to T-rex footsteps. Lights strung along the walls pulsed to the beat. In synch to the tapping of my foot, a beautiful girl appeared and disappeared.

Hers was a high-maintenance beauty, pristine after hours of preparation. She could only have been more stunning if she smiled. Instead she smirked toward the DJ’s raised platform. When the light flashed again, she stared off toward a knot of the fraternity brothers who hosted the party. Next her eyes fell on me, so I smiled and tentatively raised my cup in her direction. If she returned the gesture, it was hidden in the next instant of darkness.

In a few days, all the exams, parties, and chances for college fun would be over. It emboldened me, that prospect for at least abbreviated humiliation. I sheltered my beverage against my chest and dodged oblivious dancers. Someone spilled beer on my sneaker, so it squished through my sock with every other step. For a moment, the girl was lost, and my pulse raced in terrified regret. I’d gotten turned around in the semi-dark, and when I got my bearings she still smirked past me toward the hosts.

“Hey,” I half-yelled when I got close enough.

Her eyes widened in surprise, but a smile followed. Her lips formed something I decided was acknowledgement. She pointed at her ear and shook her head. I slid closer.

“Hi. I think you’re in my history class,” I said through her long blond hair, where her ear hid.

“Professor Stuart’s?” she shouted. Then, before I could reply, “Yeah. I’ve seen you looking at me.”

A lump caught in my throat. “Oh. Busted.” I smiled, and she pulled her hair behind her ears. “My name’s Dave.”

“Candace. Nice to meet you, Dave.”

“Do you know the guys throwing the party?” One of the hosts had lived down the hall from me during my freshman year and had invited me. I figured that might score some points.

“Uh huh. I was friends with just about all of them.”


“Do you know Chad?”

“Not really,” I said.

“I used to date him.”

“Oh. Still friends with him though, since you’re here.”

“No. They’re all pretty much jerks. But I wanted to be here for this last party, you know?”

“Sure. To say goodbye?” I guessed.

She put her arms around my neck, and her warm breath tickled my ear. “To watch it happen.”

She raised her chin and pulled my lips down to hers. My pulse raced at odds with the lights until she pulled away. When I opened my eyes, her tongue rested between her lips.

“Where did you get that?” Her eyes darted to my cup.

“There was some left over after they made their signature cocktail. Sully let me have what was left. Why?”

“Only the brothers get that. Usually everybody else just gets beer at these things.” She removed my hand from the small of her back. “I’m sorry, Dave. I didn’t mean for…uh, oh.”

I followed her gaze back over my shoulder. The group of partying brothers held their hands to their stomachs. A couple raced toward the back, where the bathroom lines stretched toward the DJ platform. They pushed and shoved their ways to the doors and hammered the wood while they doubled over. The crowd parted, hands waving in front of disgusted faces.

When the pain clenched my gut, the girl was gone. At the moment, she was the furthest thing from my mind. Weeks later, I was actually able to laugh about it, but I never saw Candace again.