The sound of jackhammers rang fervently through the room as she struggled to open her eyes. She rolled over in her bed, peeled back the blackout shades with disgust, and saw the construction happening outside of her window.
She rolled to the other side to grab her phone. 2:30. At least Sundays were for sleeping in.
The walls felt like they were closing in on her as she stared at the ceiling, and when she finally mustered up the courage to start the day, she had a sinking suspicion about the state of her car.
She peeked back through the heavy shades on her window to the street and saw what she expected. Her passenger side mirror was dangling off of the door, hanging only by the cord that controlled its movement.
Fuck. I need to buy more duct tape.
She was thankful that she made it home safe. I mean, she's done it a million times before. She's super careful about it anyways. She was sure she just nicked a pole or something. That side mirror was really fragile to begin with.
Everyone drove after a night out in LA. It was all about driving slowly and avoiding the checkpoints. It was a mastered art form.
She crawled back into her plush, queen-sized safety net and decided to go back to sleep. But as she closed her eyes, hazy memories of abrupt party exits hammered in on her as loud as the construction outside.
She remembered that one time she was at a lingerie party and drank her body weight in Jameson. All the girls there looked like models and she was in an uncomfortable place with her weight. Scanning a room of size 2's made her feel inadequate, and when that happened, she would drink for confidence. After making out with a couple different guys, she decided to do an Irish goodbye, hopped in her Nissan Sentra, and drove the 20 minutes home. But she made it home fine then, too.
She finally hushed her anxieties and went back to sleep.
The next weekend, she had plans at a friends house. They were going to throw a huge party and invite everyone just for the sake of putting one together. They had a reputation for putting on some epic and rowdy events.
As they were deciding who they were going to invite, she coyly suggested a boy that had been on her mind should come. They had hooked up before, and it wasn't a secret, but she was hoping to turn a couple one-night-things into a relationship. She really liked this guy but didn't want to let on. Her friend agreed and set up the Facebook event.
When Saturday rolled around, she picked out her very best outfit with her highest heels. She wanted to look perfect when her crush arrived. As she curled her hair and brushed on her favorite mascara, she fantasized about his reaction to her. She knew there was chemistry.
She left her place around 7 to run some errands, picked up a case of vodka, and drove from Playa del Rey to Culver City listening to her favorite pump up playlist.
She greeted her friend with a giant hug and they got to work setting up. They took pride in their party planning and always provided for their guests. After a somewhat modest pregame during the decorating, they sat down and waited for their guests to arrive.
One by one people started to trickle in. They were greeted with mixed shots and then herded to the backyard where the beverage table and snacks were. Every time someone walked in, she took another shot with them in solidarity. After all, it was a party.
After about the tenth arrival, the room started to swirl around. Her legs felt a little wobbly and those stilettos became that much more difficult to walk in. And still no sign of her crush. She started to get upset. But then she reached for another shot.
Finally the doorbell rang. She tried to collect herself, pushed her hair back and straightened up her skirt. She reached for the knob and as soon as she flung the door open, she saw his face. Joy immediately washed over her until she saw the person standing beside him. He gave her a hug and then stepped to the side to introduce his new girlfriend.
She extended her arm gracefully to this creature and smiled in a transparent manner. She offered them shots, and then took one more herself. She directed them to the backyard with a veil of enthusiasm, and went straight into the kitchen to make herself another drink.
This couldn't be happening. Who was this girl? She isn't even pretty. It doesn't make any sense.
She sucked down her vodka soda and headed to the backyard with everyone else. At this point it didn't even matter who else showed up.
She walked down the hallway and nearly broke her ankle when she hit the three steps heading to the patio. She held fiercely onto the railing and looked around to see if anyone noticed. If he noticed.
She was in the clear, situated herself, and took a beeline to the back table. She saw her friend and grabbed her arm
"Did you see who he showed up with?!"
"Yeah girl, I'm sorry. I know you guys hooked up before and stuff, but I guess that was all it was."
"I'm seriously so offended. Like why would he think that that's ok?!"
She slurred her way through that last sentence.
"Uhhh are YOU ok? How much have you had?"
"Fuck off! I'm totally fine. I'm gunna get another drink."
She grabbed a red plastic cup and poured a never-ending stream of vodka into it. She filled it with ice and splashed some soda in it and knocked it back. She needed her saving grace.
She stumbled through the crowd of people, seeing more than double at this point, and felt pretty ill. She decided then and there that if she made a scene she would never live it down, and if he saw then he'd never have feelings for her the way she wanted him to.
She walked back into the house without anyone knowing and drunkenly grabbed her purse. She had to dump the whole thing out to find her keys, but once they were in hand she flung off her shoes and ran to her car.
She tried to center herself for a minute before she put the keys in the ignition, but at that point she couldn't see through the vodka haze. She turned on the car, flipped on the lights, and that was the last thing she remembered.
It was really cold when she woke up. She tried to peel her eyes open but her head felt like it was going to explode. She kept her eyes closed and touched her temple, and felt a warm, sticky liquid that caked in her hair. She pulled her eyelids apart and noticed there was blood on her fingertips. And that she wasn't in her room.
She was still in her party dress, but her shoes and jewelry were missing. She looked around and took in the chipped paint and brick walls. She started to panic. She was getting flashbacks from the party. But she couldn't remember anything afterwards.
She heard a voice in the distance:
"Yeah female, early twenties, drunk driver. She swerved into oncoming traffic and had a head on collision with the other vehicle. Yes. No. Yes. I'm going to see if she's awake."
Her heart started racing. They couldn't be talking about her, right? There's no way that could ever happen to her. She was an excellent driver. She'd never been in a car accident before. Her insurance was going to go through the roof. How could she explain this to her parents?
The heavy boots clacked on the floor as they approached closer and closer to her cell. She burst into tears. There's no way this is real.
The cop opened the cell door and took out his cuffs. He turned her around to fasten them around her wrists while she cried uncontrollably.
"I have to take you into another room to ask you some questions. But my guess is you have no idea why you're here. And that makes me sick."
"What did I do??? I promise I never meant to do anything bad. I'll pay for all of the damages! I'm a really good person!"
"Good people don't kill people, kid."
The whole world seemed to halt. Rapid memories started to flood into her brain. Her heart pounded out of her chest. Her eyes widened with disbelief. She just couldn't remember.
Every last bit of will and love fell out of her at that moment. The guard pushed her to start walking, and she dragged her heavy body down the hallway to the interrogation room without an ounce of life left in her. Instant regret and shame clouded every fiber of her being. And it was at that moment that she realized she may have taken two lives that night, for she would never be the same.
Published by Shawn Engel