"Eli! Wake up, will you?" Adam screeches, his voice skyrocketing octaves above its normal range. He's upset, or annoyed, or maybe both.
"What's wrong with you?" I demand.
"It's noon on Sunday and you're still not awake," he informs me. I lift my head up from the pillow and glare at him.
"I can't believe you got me up before 2:30," I tell him, trying to go back to sleep.
"Seriously? You do realize that we go to church at 1:30, right?" he asks me.
"I don't go to church," I answer groggily. Now, if he'd just leave me alone.
"If you live under my mother's roof, you do," he replies. "She's already upset that you drive a Hearse and lived with people who kicked you out because you're gay and wear all black and jewelry and more eye makeup than her and that you paint your nails."
"No offense, but your mom's wacked," I respond.
"I know that, but if you don't come to church, I think she'll have a heart attack," he tells me. With that, Adam races out of the room and comes back with Drew behind him. "Drag him," he orders Drew. Drew pulls me by my feet and lifts me into the air upside down.
"Put me down," I yell at Drew, hoping that he'll actually follow my orders.
"No can do, little man," he says. I shake my head in confusion.
"I'm older than you," I answer.
"Doesn't show," he replies, smirking down at me. He drops me back onto the bed and says, "Be ready to leave by 1:00, got it?" I grumble something about mindless football zombies with no brains but agree, none-the-less.
Monday morning, and I'm giving Adam and Drew a ride to school, despite Mrs. Torres' protests…her many, many protests. I find Clare in the crowd and run over to her, pulling her into a hug.
"What's the occasion?" she teases.
"You were right," I tell her. She laughs, pushing me off.
"Careful, someone might see. Besides, aren't I always?" she whispers, smiling. I smile back at her.
"Someone looks happy," Zane says, throwing his arm around my shoulders. I look up at him, he's smiling. He smiles so much, it's ridiculous. I've almost never seen him in a bad mood. Clare smiles at us, her whole face lighting up. I can practically hear her saying, "Awww," in her head.
"I've got to talk to you," Adam says, tugging on my sleeve.
"I'll be back," I tell Clare and Zane. They nod, and I slip out of Zane's hold to follow Adam.
"Okay, so…" he trails off awkwardly.
"Yes?" I ask, what's wrong with him?
"Um, do you think you could convince Clare to come on a big outing with a group of us?" he asks.
"What?" I demand quizzically.
"See, my brother, Alli, K.C., Jenna, Zane, and I wanted to go out on a big outing with you and Clare, of course. But, we need you to convince Clare to come, because…she might not want to," he explains.
"Why wouldn't she want to come?" I question.
"It's at an under 18 club," he answers.
"I see. Well, I'll see what I can do," I reply. He relaxes. "Any special reason?" I ask.
"No…" he answers uncomfortably and, even though I can tell there is, I don't say anything.
"Clare?" I ask, as I move back into Zane's arm, feeling safer there than out in the real world.
"Yeah?" she responds.
"Do you want to come to an under 18 club with a group of us?" I question. She stiffens, as though not sure how to respond.
"Who'll be there?" she quizzes.
"Adam, Drew, Alli, Jenna, K.C., Zane, and me," I tell her. She looks to Zane for confirmation and he nods.
"Oh, alright," she answers. Tuesday is a day off, for some sort of Teacher Day, which means that we could go out that night. I play a song as I dress for the night. I'm still not sure where most of my songs come from, and this one was no exception.
There's a place downtown
Where the freaks all come around
It's a hole in the wall
It's a dirty free-for-all
And they turn me on
When they take it off
When they take it off
Everybody take it off
At the club, we were dancing like a bunch of maniacs, except for Adam and Clare.
"Oh, come on," I say, grabbing them both and pulling them onto the dance floor. Honestly, they need to loosen up a bit. Halfway through, Drew handed me a drink, which I drank willingly. It was good, but I was pretty sure it had alcohol in it, since most everything after that was a blur. And, I'd lost track of where Zane was. Instead, I found myself pressed up against K.C. who'd lost Jenna, when he'd had something to drink, at least that's what I think happened.
"You're a good dancer," I tell him, because that's about the only thing my brain can process right now.
"You too, Alli," he answers. God, he's really out of it. Well, so am I, I think I've called him Clare a few times.
"It's Eli," I reply. It is Eli, right?
"Right," he says, losing himself in the beat of the song. Thirsty, I pick up a drink from the counter, and take a few sips. Probably alcohol, probably not helping me figure out what's going on. Everything gets just a little fuzzier, but the doubts are gone and I've lost track of feet above or below the surface. And who am I dancing with? I can barely make them out in this jumble of colors and sounds. "Dance with me," the person growls, I'm pretty sure it's a he. Who did I even come here with? It might have been him. I can't even remember where we are, I'm so smashed. He, I think, puts his hands on my waist and I reach up for his neck. This dude's tall, it could be anyone. He pulls down toward me, pressing his lips onto mine, hard. I'll probably have bruised lips for a while. And, with that, my mind goes completely blank.
K.C. comes into the room, I'm not sure where it is, but he comes in and starts talking to me. Eventually, he starts to corner me, singing, "Those lips, those eyes."
Zane sits at his table getting ready, eating a cracker with a spread. "That food. Well, there ain't nothing like a spread to get ya in the mood," he sings.
K.C. smiles at me, trying to convince me to dance. "Eli, can't you feel the burning flame of hot desire? It's gonna take more than some seltzer to put out this fire."
Zane moves toward the door, coming to find me. "I'm wailing: Look out old Baltimore."
K.C. moves closer to me. "I'm selling something you can't purchase at a ten cent store."
Zane walks down the street, moving closer and closer to where I am. "Oh, Eli, I feel like a princess. Come on and take me to the ball."
K.C. moves even closer, cornering me in, um, the corner. "I bet you're tired of heavy lifting; get your hands on something small." Which is ironic, because K.C.'s not exactly small.
Zane moves to walk up the stairs. "Because…I'm big," he chants, which is not true.
K.C. pushes me down onto my bed, where I lay. "Blonde," he tells me. I look at his hair, just to make sure. Yep, blonde.
"And beautiful. It's time to face the facts, it's irrefutable," they both sing, as Zane walks up the stairs and K.C. moves on top of me.
K.C., who's now on top of me, moves his head closer to mine. "Why waste one more minute?"
Zane reaches his hand out to touch the doorknob. "Now I feel brand spanking new."
"Eli, take a look, it's all for…" they both trail off as Zane opens the door and K.C. moves even closer to me.
"You," K.C. sighs, kissing me.
"YOU?" Zane cries out, his eyes widening at the scene unfolding in front of him, then filling with tears.
"Eli! Eli!" Adam yells, shaking me awake.
"What happened?" I demand.
"All I know is: Clare said someone was slipping alcohol into the drinks, Alli said that it was the worst night ever, Jenna and Zane were in tears, Drew was really upset about getting you alcohol-filled drinks on accident, and you and K.C. got kind of intimate…" he says. I groan, could this get any worse? My head starts pounding as I lift it. "Oh, and Drew says to drink some water and take these," he tells me, presenting me with a glass of water and some Advil. "And Zane says you're through, and Clare says she can't believe you convinced her to do this and Jenna's pissed that you 'took advantage' of her boyfriend – "
"Does anyone not hate me?" I interrupt.
"Well, me, Drew, Alli, and K.C. don't," he answered. Just great. "Don't worry, it'll blow over," he finishes. I simply groan in response. My life could not get any worse.