Noelle had been hammering me all day about a party tonight. I didn’t want to go because Daniel and I were going to visit his friends and I thought we’d just take it easy that day. When I told Daniel this he was totally down for it, to my surprise. I thought he wanted a lazy night, too.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yes!” Daniel beamed. “Let’s go out, have some fun, get drunk.”
“Get drunk, Daniel?”
He rolled his eyes. “Fine. Not get drunk.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown out all our bottles. Was I giving him withdrawal? He’d been seeming up and down more so than usual lately, and I didn’t know if it was my doing or not.
“Alright, let’s go out.”
“Yes!” he threw his head back and his arms, hands balled into fists, up in the air. A victory!
Daniel told me we were visiting his friends but I didn’t know Shelly would be there. Remember her? She came to our house warming party and practically drooled over Daniel right in front of me. I swear, I could’ve smacked her right there and then had it not been for my civil decorum. Damn my good upbringing!
“DANIEL!” she shrieked when she opened the door. Steve and Tony were sitting on the couch.
Steve was the guy that got drunk at our party pretty quickly. The one that I suspected encouraged Daniel and his bad habits. Maybe I’m too judgy-wudgy. Daniel needs to take accountability, too. Sometimes he says his drinking is bad, other times he says I’m overreacting. Like, don’t sneak around me at night, while I’m sleeping, and drink behind my back, and then say I’m overreacting. That’s a reasonable-reacting right there.
“Hey, Shell,” Daniel grinned, leaning down for a hug.
The girl was wearing a short shift dress and stood on her tiptoes to hug Daniel, meanwhile, Steve and Tony behind her were glancing at the hem of her dress rising just high enough to take a peek.
“Oh, and…” she snapped her fingers at me, mulling over my name. I wanted to watch her try to remember and actually ask me if she didn’t, but before that could happen, Daniel told her. She smacked her teeth and snapped her finger loudly the last time. “That’s right. Lol. Soz.”
Wow. Lol? Soz? Is she twelve?
“It’s okay. I forgot yours, too—” I furrowed my brows in thought— “Hell, was it?”
She snickered into the palm of her hand. “No, it’s Shell. Duh. Anyway, come in, come in!”
I wasn’t having an entirely great time. I felt so far apart from the group that, despite their best efforts to include me in the conversation, I felt unwanted. Like I’d dented Shelly’s plan to move into my boyfriend. Fiancé! Actually.
“That’s so weird that you guys are getting married,” Shelly shook her head like it was a miracle.
“Yeah, have fun on lock down, kid,” Steve said before taking a swig of his beer. Ah, a serial polygamist. Gotchya!
“Ooohhhhhhhh,” Tony said, his brows relaxing. “You’re pregnant.”
Shelly and Steve widened their eyes, bulging, disbelieving. “No!” Shelly gasped, her mouth a comical O-shape.
“No,” Daniel shook his head, looking down. He wrapped an arm around me. “We actually don’t want kids.”
Ugh! My chest tightened. ‘We’ don’t not want kids; ‘I’ don’t.
I gulped audibly. Shelly watched me like a hawk. “Why not?”
Stink eye on full alert. I shrugged. “It’s just not for uh—” I was about to say ‘us’— “me.”
“Us,” Daniel corrected.
This is horrible. I feel like I’m robbing him of his desires.
Shelly shot her glances between Daniel and I. Steve was too drunk to notice and Tony didn’t care much to press. Oh but press Shelly did; with a red-hot fucking poker.
Shelly leaned back, running an index finger along the ridge of her glass. “It would be a real shitty thing to hold someone back from having kids.”
“She isn’t, Shelly,” Daniel hissed.
“I’m not talking about her,” she said. We all knew she was. “Just saying, a friend of mine didn’t want kids, her partner did, so to save them a life of grief, they split up and went their separate ways.”
“As opposed to you?” Tony asked. “Wide open for business 24\7?”
“Whatever! You guys laugh!” she said, then she looked at me and muttered, “at least I’ll give my man what he wants.”
I shot my gaze to Daniel, but he was already ear-deep into a conversation between Steve and Tony.
We met Noelle and Leo at a bar downtown. They were already doing shots by the time we got there.
“Yeeeeee!” Noelle squealed when I pat her on the back and she turned around. She grabbed a shot and handed it to me. I took it with her without even thinking. Shelly’s words had been replaying in my mind the whole way here and I was annoyed.
Two people can be together and not want entirely the same things. What ever happened to opposites attract?
Leo was already blind drunk. Slobbering all over me and being so handsy with everyone. I kept monitoring the drinks and tailing Daniel’s moves like a cop, micromanaging his sobriety. When he ordered a vodka I sprang on him.
“No, Daniel!” I said, a tiny bit tipsy.
He hogged the glass away every time I lunged for it. “What!?”
“Don’t drink!” I demanded.
“The fuck am I supposed to do, drink water?”
“Whatever happened to us not drinking together?”
My cheeks burned. “Fine. I won’t drink anymore.”
He sighed sharply and rolled his eyes. “It’s not even about that. Stop being on my ass all the time. I’m not a drunk.”
“Well you are acting like one.”
“Look who’s talking.” He appraised me up and down.
“I’m just trying to help.”
“You want to help?” he downed his vodka and a shot and banged both glasses atop the bar. “Stop fucking treating me like a broken little boy.”
He turned around and I grabbed for him. He whisked my hand away. “Where are you going?”
“Bathroom. Why, you want to help me in there, too? Jeesh.”