Derek’s house is a five-bedroom affair that sits atop Westridge Estates. It’s famous for its sweet pool table, bought by Derek’s divorced dad, who’s always out of town with younger girls he’s trying to impress.
When I get there, I’m greeted with the sight of a hammered Jenny Heder and Serena Bell rapping along to Kanye blasting out of a huge sound system. I love how hip-hop is the voice of white-girl suburban angst. Derek’s dad works at Adidas, making him single and loaded, so he’s tricked out the house with speakers and games and is so desperate for his son to love him that he tells him it’s OK to have parties when he’s gone. Mix that with Jason Baines having an older brother who buys him booze in bulk, and you’ve got a winning combination of party possibilities.
I make a quick detour into the kitchen to retrieve an extremely crappy strawberry daiquiri from Patrick Cushman, who’s apparently appointed himself Blender Master.
“Special recipe created for teenagers who want to get drunk quick,” he says.
“How’d you get put in charge of cocktails?”
“Does it matter?”
I shrug. Patrick is one of those guys who don’t seem to belong to any group; he always floats along with everyone—tennis players, smart kids, band geeks, skaters—and sometimes he even hangs out with Brady’s lacrosse friends. It probably means he’s insecure and can’t decide who he is. We had freshman gym together. One day some asshole pegged me really hard in dodgeball, and Patrick walked me to the nurse’s office to get an ice pack for my arm. He was obviously creeping on me, but it wasn’t bad to have the company.
I take a giant chug of daiquiri. It’s strong and sweet and sour. The taste makes me pucker.
“You must really want to get drunk, huh?” he says.
“None of your business.” I glare at him.
“Whoa. Sorry,” he says, looking taken aback.
“Whatever.” I don’t need his pity. I leave him standing there and head for the living room, taking another glug of daiquiri as I go. He may be annoying to talk to, but I have to admit, Patrick Cushman does make a pretty delicious, extremely crappy strawberry daiquiri.
“Hey, Tabs,” Brady says, smirking at me as I walk up and say hi to everyone. Taryn’s too busy texting to say hi back.
Brady puts an arm around my waist and pinches the spot where a teeny bit of flesh bubbles out over my jeans. I’m only a size six, but clearly this is his way of telling me I’m fat. Sometimes it seems like guys really hate girls, with all the little things they say and do to try to get us to hate ourselves.
I fight the urge to hit him and instead turn and plant a kiss on his perfect mouth. I’ve seen my mom do it to my dad when he’s being a dick. She tries to trick him with affection into being in a good mood. Sometimes it even works.
“Where did you go earlier?” Taryn asks, looking up from her phone.
“Cabbed it home,” I say with a shrug.
“You could have texted us. We sat at Yopop for 20 minutes waiting for you,” she gripes.
“Like I have to broadcast everywhere I am at all times?” I snap. I mouth cramps to Kayla. Any explanation involving people’s periods works for Kayla. She got hers late—she was 14, which is practically menopausal—so she loves stories about the follies of menstruation. Her favorite is one about her cousin’s first attempt at wearing a maxi pad. Her cousin got her period in the middle of a family Christmas party, so someone gave her a pad. She came out of the bathroom looking tragically uncomfortable.
“What’s wrong?” Kayla asked when her cousin waddled over like she had on a diaper full of fire ants. Her cousin pointed to her crotch and whispered to Kayla, “Sticky-side up, right?”
Brady lets go of my waist. “We’re going to Jason’s for an after-party. You ready?”
I stare at him. “I just got here.”
“So, I haven’t even finished my drink.” I hold up my daiquiri as proof, then look at his perfect mouth, which I once again want to punch.
“So? Finish it in the car.”
I stare at Brady. How did I end up with a boyfriend like this? A boyfriend whose talents are scoring points in lacrosse, monitoring my body fat, and being a dick. He knows I don’t like Jason Baines. I’ve told him that 100 times. I don’t like this Jason or any Jason. “Jason” is the universal moniker of assholes. I’ve never met one who’s cool. And this particular one—with his jock complex and his self-absorbed girlfriend, Dakota—is definitely not cool. I see the night unfolding exactly as every night with Jason unfolds: Brady and Jason staying up until four in the morning, getting drunker and drunker and stupider and stupider, and me sitting there talking to Dakota. Who, by the way, has been known to make racial slurs when she’s hammered. Sometimes I wish I could kidnap her and drop her smack-dab in the middle of Felony Flats in the middle of the night and see how far her mouth gets her.
Brady knows how I feel, but he’s decided to trap me into going to Jason’s by suggesting it in front of 10 other people; if I say no, I’ll look like a bitch. As of right now, he’s winning this battle. I gulp my daiquiri.
“Can I talk to you in private for a second?” I say, fake-smiling.
“We can talk on the way. Right, guys?” He grins at the guys and then turns back to me with an even smugger smile.
“I’m not going.” I glare at him.
“Typical,” he sneers.
Kayla shoots Noah a look. Jason gloats. Dakota looks bored.
“What do you mean, ‘typical’?” I retort.
“You’re making a big deal out of nothing. Typical.”
“Fuck you,” I blurt.
Everyone starts to look uncomfortable now. Because of all the people who’d be fighting at a party in front of everyone, it shouldn’t be me and Brady Finch. We’re supposed to be this awesome prince and princess of the high school, two people who look great together and are madly in love.
“I kind of wish you’d pull that giant stick out of your ass,” he says.
Brady and Jason and Noah all laugh. Kayla doesn’t look at me. Suddenly, I don’t want to punch him anymore. I just want to run away. I’m hit with the realization that this is what happens to princesses in real life. They don’t get kissed awake by princes. They don’t get handed the keys to the kingdom. They don’t live happily ever after. In real life, they are publicly humiliated; they are thrown from their towers. This is what they don’t tell you when you are a little girl: Everyone secretly hates a princess. Everyone wants to see her fall.
Feeling sick to my stomach, I turn and walk out, pawing my way through the party like a newly crowned pariah. Finally I walk out the front door of Derek Godfrey’s house, fighting the overwhelming feeling that if I keep going, I’m on my own now, and I’m on my own for good.
On the Porch
I’m on the porch,
still holding the drink
the drunk guy gave me,
when someone smashes into me
and my cup goes flying.
I turn to see Tabitha Foster,
her white shirt dripping with pink drink.
She is lean and mean,
all honey hair and devil-may-care.
She is nothing like you, and she is nothing like me.
Of all the queens of all the schools I’ve been to,
there’s something ultra-something
about Tabitha Foster.
She looks like she’s stepping
out of a movie
or a dream
or a story that
has a happy ending—
for this one. ♦
Excerpted from Trinkets by Kirsten Smith, which came out yesterday. Copyright © 2013 by the author and reprinted with permission from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.