“What do you mean you’re not coming?” I shouted into my phone that lay on my bed as I twisted another section of hair around my hair curler.
“I told you I might have other plans” he said dully. I wasn't sure I wanted to respond at that point. I mean it’s not like we were official or anything but I thought that tonight would be our night.
“Okay, well if you want to stop by for a bit you know where I’ll be”.
The phone went silent and I knew that he had hung up. My face flushed and I pretended it was because of the heat from the curling iron. I finished with my hair and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked damn good. Too bad it was all going to waste. There was a knock at my door and I called a halfhearted ‘come in’ as I pulled on a pair of black boots.
“Well look at you all dolled up. Is Nate going to be there tonight?” my mother asked noting my short black and gold dress. I guess I had kind of gone over the top but there were never any ‘dress up’ occasions anymore so Kota and I decided to make a spectacle of the whole night.
“Nathan will not be in attendance tonight” I said bitterly “Dressing up was Dakotas’s idea”.
“Oh I see, and you’re spending the night at her house right?”
“Right. We might stop by Benny’s for a few hours but I’ll text you when we get back to Kotas’s house.”
“Okay, are you sure you don’t want to stay here tonight? Your aunts and uncles would love to see you.” She asked. I almost felt guilty leaving them but there was no way I was going to pass up a night of delinquency at Benny’s.
“Yeah mom, I‘d love to stay but we kind of already made these plans, and I really should get going” I told her.
“Okay sweetie, just promise me you’ll be safe. Be very careful, there’s bound to be a ton of drunks on the roads tonight.” She said sadly. I gave her a tight hug and promised her again that I would be safe. I pulled a coat on over my slinky dress and shouldered my back pack.
I had barely made it to my car when I noticed my phone had three missed calls. All from Dakota about a minute apart. She rarely called me but we texted constantly. I punched in her number and pulled out of my drive way. We had been blessed this year and hadn't gotten any snow yet. By this time last year we had about six snow days. I hate how snow in movies is portrayed as this majestic, glittering form of precipitation. Usually it starts snowing when a couple gets back together, or they break up. Either way, the girl is crying, and instead of having puffy, blotchy, cheeks and an awful runny nose like normal people in freezing cold, she looks ethereal and impervious to the cold. Sure maybe she looks a little flushed, but he hair is always coated in perfectly glittery snowflakes. When this happens in real life it isn't actually picturesque, in the end all you get is wet hair. Dakotas call went to voice mail and I wasn't going to try her again because it took me all of five minutes to get to Benny’s house.
The house was empty when I walked in. Benny never really said where his parents had gone for the weekend but it didn’t matter because he said they wouldn’t be back until late the next day so we were pretty much alone. I walked past the living room and into the kitchen. Dakota and Benny were there. They seemed to be bickering about something but stopped as soon as I walked in.
“Hi! Where is everyone?” I asked setting my bag down at the table.
“I’m pretty sure you told everyone eight, it’s barely seven” Benny said pouring himself a drink. “I barely gave her anything I promise”.
I shifted my focus to Dakota now who looked pale and clammy. Kota didn’t drink so I knew she didn’t look like she was going to throw up because of that. “What’s going on kid?”
“I skipped my birth control a few times this week so I just started my period. I think I’m going to puke.” she said holding her hand to her mouth.
“Do you want to go get some fresh air? I have to pick up pizza and booze”
She nodded meekly and we headed out before saying goodbye to Benny. He was too engrossed in his drink and whatever was on the television to notice that we were leaving. Now I was never that great of a driver but I hadn't been in an accident in at least a year. We were quiet in the car, only the faint ghost of the radio filled the air around us. I looked over at Dakota and she was ghostly white, she had her knees pulled up to her chest and her mane of purple grey curls were hiding her face.
“You okay buddy?” I asked her turning off the radio. “Are you going to hurl?”
She didn’t even bother with a response. I rolled the window down and pulled into the turn lane. We were close, so close to the pizza place. I could see it now, all I had to do was get into the parking lot. But I knew my efforts were futile, I was no stranger to helping sick people and I knew she was going to throw up. She started retching and it was nothing like the funny movie scenes where the drunk friend pukes out of the window of the moving car. I peeled into the pizza place parking lot and pulled into a spot at the far corner of the lot. She threw the door open and finished heaving her guts up on the concrete.
“Oh wow” I said in utter shock. “Okay you stay here babe, I’ll be right back okay” I jumped from the car, leaving the keys in the ignition. I felt out of place in the store in my fancy dress and garish heels when I was usually there in yoga pants and a ratty tee shirt. Kendall, one of the front girls was standing at the front counter helping a customer. I waved a quick hello to her and dashed into the back. Hadi, my work husband, was cheesing a pizza in the back and I gave him a quick hello before grabbing a towel from the sink and a water bottle from the pop fridge in the lobby.
When I got back to the car, Dakota was still hunched over in her seat and I took stock of the damage she had done. There was a pool of vomit on the ground beneath the car and vomit dripping all down the side of the door. I quickly wiped everything up and then handed her the towel. She kept muttering that she was sorry, she was so, so, sorry. I ignored her, knowing she would do the same for me.
“Are you okay babe? Here have some water” I said handing her the bottle. She tipped it back and drained half before spitting it up again at my feet. “Jeeze, you smell awful kid. Here is there any on your clothes?” I asked her before pulling off her scarf and her jacket. I threw them in my back seat on the floor mentally adding that to the list of things I would have to clean tomorrow.
“Can I…can I have your keys?” she asked me weakly.
“Oh yeah! Are you cold? Do you want me to turn the heat on?”
“No, I couldn’t get them out of the ignition, that’s Kendall’s car right?” she asked me.
“Yeah I think so, why do you want-“ I stopped short. I suddenly remembered homecoming when Shane had taken Dakota to homecoming but left with Kendall, his ex-girlfriend, and then slept with her at a house party later that night. “Kota no” I said simply. “You can’t just key her car, she’s inside dummy”
“So go distract her then” she said as if I was the one who was being unreasonable. I knew Dakota, at this point there was no arguing with her, she was going to get what she wanted in the end whether I was helping her or not.
“If you get caught I’m not bailing you out” I told her before heading back inside.
I was dotted with goose bumps when I walked back in, and the warm air was a welcome relief. Kendall was still helping customers but she gave me a confused look. I ignored her and walked past the counter into the back. Hadi immediately pulled me into a hug.
“Look at you! You look amazing! Do you have a date tonight?” he asked me looking expectant. I gave him an annoyed look and rehashed the account of Nate blowing me off. “What a pig. If he knew what you looked like he wouldn’t let you out of his sight.”
I rolled my eyes but accepted his compliment. “Is Jay here? I need him to get me booze for tonight”
“Jay!” Hadi called into the back and Jay came up, only to look me up and down before whistling loudly and giving me a hug.
“Damn baby, you look amazing. You going out tonight?” he asked me.
“Yeah, I’m going to a party, actually, can you get me some stuff?”
“Anything for you, just write me a list” he said before smacking my ass and grabbing his coat. It was pretty convenient that our pizza place was located just next to a liquor store, for us and for our customers. While he was gone I made myself busy helping Hadi prep some pizzas and set a few aside for later.
It had only been about ten minutes when I noticed Dakota standing outside. I motioned for her to come in and she looked at the door hesitantly. I had told Hadi so many stories about her that he recognized her instantly. He waved at her excitedly and when she didn’t come in the door right away he gave me a puzzled look. I explained that she had been puking in the parking lot and he burst out laughing. Dakota ended up coming in but she stayed seated on one of the plastic chairs in the lobby.
“Oh my god! Dakota look at you! You’re such a cutie” He exclaimed. She blushed a deep scarlet and I was glad she was going back to her usual color now that she had the puking out of her system.
“I’m cuter when I’m not covered in vomit” she said coyly, laughing. That was Dakota, nothing phased her at this point.
“You’ll have to have this one bring you back when you’re feeling better. Now tell me, are you guys sleeping together?” Hadi asked still obsessed with thinking that I was not in fact actually straight.
“Well, of course we are” Dakota said as seriously as she could. “I mean, we cuddled in her bed last weekend didn’t we Jude?”
I just rolled my eyes and took the bag from Jay who had just walked in the back door. I handed her the booze and gave Jay a tight hug and thanked him before leaving with the pizzas. We said good bye to Hadi and I waved to Kendall, pushing Dakota out the door before she could flip her off. We trudged back to my car and I noticed a faint line running down the side of Kendall’s car.
“Dakota!” I said shrilly, bumping her in the side. “Did she see you?”
“I’m pretty sure we made eye contact but I don’t know if she knows what I did” she said nonchalantly. I shook my head and took a deep breath.
“Oh child, the things I put up with”
“Love me” she said quietly, giving me her best puppy dog eyes.