The music still played, overhyped and unneeded, just like the rest of us. We sat in a circle on the floor, ignoring the couches and just listening for any movement. A pulse could’ve been Genevieve laughing, but we fell silent as she wrapped her blue flannel around her waist, neon orange sweatshirt vibrant in the dark. She breathed in, let her Adidas bucket hat fall over her eyes, pulled her knees up to her chin and closed her eyes.
Geneva, Genevieve – all the same. All the same leader, all the same lost soul, all the same goofy girl who forever drowned herself in fluorescent bathroom lights and singers with raspy tones. She called it an aesthetic, we lovingly called it a problem.
The reason we ended up in a karaoke bar in the city with less than fifty dollars in our pockets combined and drunk on sleep deprivation will never make sense, but at that moment it didn’t have to. At that moment, the five of us – me, Mark, Genevieve, Serenity and Fonzie – were together, alone, separated from the world. We were happily excluded, Serenity recently dumped by a lover who never appreciated her affection, Mark groggy as always but still conscious. Geneva orchestrated the outing. Fonzie just got a text from his mom telling him not to bother coming home. I was just glad to have the company.
Papa gave me ten bucks and told me to be back before one, but we both knew I wouldn’t be crawling into bed until dawn. He would force me to school later that morning, laughing at my hangover and holding back the ‘I told you so’. That was the routine. It had always been that way.
When we needed each other, there were no questions asked. We found one way or another to get to each other, even if that meant Fonzie being scolded by the strict parental unit he pretended to hate yet needed the security of for his well-being. The kid was almost sixteen and still couldn’t leave the house before kissing his mother goodbye.
We made fun of him for liking Geneva since sixth grade, hopelessly in love in only a way a kid like him could pull off. I, on the other hand, was shocked that the only boy I was ever friends with was not head over heels for me, but kept my silence – and it worked out. We connected, formed the group quickly. Made ourselves into a family.
And here we were again, sitting in the all-too-familiar beer-stunk room, legs crossed, letting the obnoxious music blare. Serenity propped her head on Mark’s shoulder. I could see the resistance in his eyes of not going out and punching the kid who broke her heart. I tried not to laugh.
We were a mess, but what else was new?