Online Art Gallery, Volume 12

Submissions for the next issue are OPEN and close February 13th, 2019! 



Grace Hartley

At eleven, the party was very relaxed and most people were either preparing to leave or preparing to fuck. A group of boys did leave when they finally realized there weren’t enough girls for them to get anything. I watched one in particular as they left, because I had always thought he was so charming and well-dressed, and I had hope he would to talk to me at some point in the night. He and his friends piled out the front door, and he waved goodbye to a pretty blonde girl, who smiled at him. Oh well. The remaining dozen or so people laid on the floor or the couches or each other, nursing drinks and slurring flirtatiously with one and other. I called across the room, back and forth with the pretty blonde, and we laughed about how high school was over, and how nice it felt to be free of it. She told me her name but I didn’t hear it so I just pretended I knew it. It was too loud to keep yelling. Some boys chimed in, one said he would miss my friend and I. I’d never met him before. A couple laughed their way to a bedroom, and my friend passed out with his head on my lap. Hidden somewhat by a group of very normal kids, just showing up to the party, Chris managed to sneak in the front door. 

Chris Fiver was odd. He was the kid that everyone generally avoided except for those exceptionally kind kids. He was mostly known for screaming at teachers and once showing his dick to a bunch of 8th grade girls on the bus. Of the very few people he associated with, most were on their way to or from jail, though he personally had little trouble with the police. His parents were silent, wealthy figures whose faces I can never remember but feel I have seen. He took long strides through the living room with impossibly thin legs, disguised under loose jeans, and passed out of my line of vision because I didn’t care to turn my head to follow him. I don’t know much of what he did next because I wasn’t one of those exceptionally kind kids, and I avoided him for awhile. 

The new kids at the party seemed to upset the balance of things, and while the party became more excited, it also became somewhat tense. The perfect debauched balance we had achieved earlier was thrown into question with new faces and new sneakers and new jokes. We tried to drown out the tension – louder music, stronger drinks, longer hits – and it might’ve worked, or I became too drunk to notice any imbalance. I was with my friend, who had miraculously woken up, and some foolish boy who was being very drunk and obvious about wanting to kiss me. He kissed my friend, who was already laughing but laughed harder, and then he smiled slowly at me with his eyes half closed and said, “Your turn.” I laughed and shook my head, but this little tiny part of me, the same part that thought I was ugly or stupid, was sort of interested in kissing the boy. Eventually, the boy lost interest and left to get another beer, losing his balance as he stood and catching himself on a girl I had known since the fifth grade, who pushed him off, into a wall, telling him to “fucking fuck off”. He shrugged it off, face blank and dazed with drunkenness, and stumbled away, using the wall for support. My friend and I giggled as he fell through the doorway into the kitchen. “Gotta find another girl to harass, this one’s too good for you,” my friend joked, digging his fingers into my hair. I smiled, though a little part of me cringed away from his words. I ignored it and kissed him on the cheek. 

A large portion of the party had moved out back where they were yelling and laughing. Chris danced barefoot in a frantic, frightening way around the house, then grabbed an empty bottle, and dashed out back. He was given license to do odd things like this because it was expected, and everyone was too drunk to be considerate and they ignored him. In the living room, it was me, my friend, the horny boy who had returned from the kitchen, and a sullen couple which left soon after Chris did. An hour or so passed. My friend fell asleep again, and the boy began grabbing at me, laughing in a very fake way, and putting his face very close to mine. I knew only a few years earlier I would’ve been strangely flattered by this kind of behavior, but at that time it made me deeply depressed. So depressed I nearly felt sober. After what felt like a long time, I finally shook my friend awake and took him to my car. I led him out by the hand, which made me feel powerful and happy. 

I helped my friend into the car then sat in the driver’s seat. I drank cold water and took deep breaths and mentally analyzed my route home over and over again, then counted backwards from one-hundred. I got out of the car and did jumping jacks and walked in straight lines up and down the middle of the street. I shook my head, and blinked my eyes hard, then leaned against my car in the warm night air, counting the hours since my last beer. I could hear the kids screaming in the backyard as I got in the car. My friend was awake, in a way, and we talked for a few minutes before we started kissing. At nearly a quarter to three, I started the car and talked myself through the drive home. Soon after I left, I had to pull over to let an ambulance pass by. I was sobered by the blue and red flashes of lights and urgent sirens. For a moment, the whole world was red, then blue, then dark again. It went the opposite way I was going, and I carefully pulled out and drove away once it had grown small in my rearview mirror. Coaching myself and driving slowly, I managed to get to my friend’s house, then my own.

The next day, I woke up and I thought about the kiss and I thought about my friend and I was smiling in bed with a headache. I thought about texting my friend, and then it all began. I checked my phone and there were lots of messages and notifications from friends and others regarding the party. Though I didn’t know the entire story until I met with the host later that week and talked to him about it, I was able to piece together the majority of it that morning in bed. 

While my friend and I were kissing in the car, Chris was out back, dancing and performing for everyone. They were drunk and happy and they ate it up. He began smashing bottles on the porch. I heard that some people laughed, but most people began to get afraid. It was while my friend and I were kissing that he began to stomp barefoot on the broken pieces. He picked up a bottle and tried to deep-throat it, vomiting up white, watery fluid that looked like milk. He grabbed shattered bits of glass and chewed on them, ground them between his hands, and rubbed his face with them. A designated driver got his friends together and left, calling an ambulance while people cried in his car. Malina was among them, and threw up all over her pink shirt. It was the host, a few barely legal boys, an underage girl, and a bloody, pulpy, Chris at the house when the ambulance arrived. 

Chris had been on some kind of hallucinogen. It wasn’t a psychedelic – it wasn’t meant to make you feel good, to have endless, shapeless epiphanies. It was just some scary upper that he picked up from a scary dealer he met through a friend currently in jail. He had taken it when he stumbled onto the party. I felt odd following his story on the news, instead of through school gossip. But the halls in which we would have turned the story over, chewed on it and spread it around till it was myth, were empty for the summer. Most people didn’t know what had happened, and people even spread rumors that Chris had showed up with a gun. I had told my mother everything, crying into her shoulder, snot and tears all over her blouse. Upon hearing the rumors, she pursed her lips and shook her head: “Who would make that up? Is the truth not terrible enough?”

Weeks later, when my friend and I had had sex and we were lying together in his bed, I looked at his lips and I suddenly thought of Chris’ lips, full of glass and thin pink blood. I wondered what Chris was doing right then, considering what he had done when my friend and I first kissed. Chris had been whisked away, apparently to some special hospital in Montana his parents could afford. I imagined him in a white room, but with his face as I remembered, because I couldn’t imagine it all shredded and covered in bandages. I’ve tried to. Nowadays, I drink when I’m alone, and there is nothing magical or transcendent about it.


skeleton and body juxtaposition

Greta Deboer