BEEP. BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEP.
“Holy shit, I’m coming!” I scream as I run frantically down the flight of stairs with my Goodlife duffle bag in hand, slipping into my worn out flip flops and the slam the door behind me.
“Took you long enough P!” Loey exclaims, as I toss my things in the back of her Jeep and hop in the front seat.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! You know I’m never ready on time”, I say as I grab the aux cord and start searching for a song to start off our road trip up north.
We decided to mission it three hours to one of our other friend’s, Noah’s cottage, since his parents are away for the weekend. I was debating going for the past few days since I haven’t exactly been in the best mood lately but Loey convinced me that a weekend getaway was exactly what I needed right now.
Loey and I have been friends for as long as I can remember, practically birth! It’s always been the two of us, Loey and Penelope taking on the world. So as per her request, I packed up my things for the weekend, and we drive up after I finish my shift at the local restaurant.
The sun begins to set as we start on our journey to Noah’s cottage. I’m usually the one to do the driving but my mom isn’t around this weekend to lend me her car. I don’t really mind though, it’s a nice change being able to let my mind wander as I watch the vibrant colours of the sky melt together, mindlessly getting lost in the music. With the windows open I feel the wind graze my cheek and rush through my hair and can’t help but smile.
“What’s up with you, ya freak!” Lo says to me, bringing me back to reality.
“Nothing, I’m just happy I decided to come”, I reply back to her.
I change the song to Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten and we instantly start singing (or rather, screaming) together in unison while the sun fades behind us. Laughing and talking for the rest of the ride up I get more and more excited for what the rest of the weekend will have in store for us.
We pull up alongside Noah’s cottage and try to find a place to park among all the other cars. I didn’t realize we would be so late, but I don’t think much of it as we gather our things and walk up to the front door. I hear the thump of the music blaring and drunken banter. Another friend of ours, Quinn, answers the door, as some sort of alcohol comes flying from her red solo cup.
As we step inside, eagerly pulling our boxed wine out from our bags to join the drinking festivities, I spot Braeden, my ex. H o l y s h i t . My heart skips a beat and I almost drop my box of wine. One step behind, Lo sees him and looks to me in shock.
WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING HERE?!? – we simultaneously think when our eyes meet. Lo grabs my arms, pulling me into the nearest bedroom before he notices me.
I sit down on the small wooden framed bed, starting to hyperventilate. With a million thoughts running through my head I hear Lo in the background, trying to calm me down.
“Don’t worry, I don’t think he saw you. Everything will be fine, I’m here for you”.
“What the hell is he even doing here?! You’d think Noah would have the decency to warn me before hand that he would be coming. We haven’t talked in over three months – what am I supposed to say?”
I hate that he’s still able to make me feel this way. The fact that I still feel anything at all bothers me to no end.
“Nothing, you ignore him and have fun drinking tonight with all your friends” Lo says to me.
“I just don’t know what to do – we were together for five years – it’s not exactly easy for me to straight up ignore him,” I say back, feeling my anxiety rising.
“Awe P, I know. You just have to realize that you made the right decision and it wasn’t your fault. How about we get you some liquid courage and down a shot before going back out there?”
“One shot? I’m thinking I might need eight,” I say, nervously laughing.
After clearing a few shots we head back out, approaching the rest of our friends as if nothing had happened. I look around apprehensively and notice that luckily Braeden is nowhere to be found. I take a sigh of relief and join the group playing beer pong out on the porch.
I pour some of my wine into a cup and look up to see an unfamiliar face. Smooth and sun kissed skin, with long brown hair, perfectly styled. Our eyes meet and she reaches her hand towards me.
“Hi, I’m Carmen,” she says with a slight accent.
Wondering who this girl is, I return her gesture and smile slightly while saying, “Nice to meet you, I’m Penelope. Most people just call me P though”.
She smiles back to me, her eyes shining brightly under the moonlight and I can’t help but notice how stunning she is.
“Hey P! You wanna be on my team for the next round?” Noah interjects.
“Ya sure,” I reply, walking away from Carmen.
The game of beer pong begins. I’m doing surprisingly well, sinking a few balls for once. The other team takes their turn and one of the pong balls goes flying off to the side of the porch. I run over to retrieve it, reaching down with one hand to pick it up. As I bounce back up I see Braeden talking to Carmen and giving her a hug.
Are. You. Serious.
I feel a flame of rage glide over me as I watch their exchange. I’m speechless. I don’t know what to think.
A thousand thoughts start racing through my mind. Does he have a new girlfriend already?! No, there’s no way, we’ve only been broken up for a few months. She’s stunning though. They could just be friends. Ugh, there’s no way, they’re definitely at least fucking.
As I walk away with the ball, I see Lo and toss it to her, making my way back into the cottage for some time to think about what I just saw. I sit down with another group of friends, mostly mutual guy friends of Braeden’s. Some are playing King’s Cup and others are just chatting. I see one of our friends Ryan, who’s one of Braeden’s closest friends and take a seat next to him. Obviously intoxicated, he looks at me, overlooking the extreme panic written across my face and words come out of his mouth. What he’s saying, I have no idea. All I’m thinking about is – –
“Have you met Carmen yet?” Ryan asks
“Ya, just a few minutes ago actually”
“She’s so cool eh! Crazy how she’s known Braeden for all this time and we haven’t met her till now huh?!”
I feel my stomach churn.
“I have to pee,” I say as I rush out of the room and start looking for Lo.
This is an absolute nightmare. How long has this bitch known him for?! We’ve only been broken up for a few months, not years! Maybe he cheated on me. I never thought he was the type of guy to do that but she is gorgeous. Holy shit.
I finally see Lo and there she is – fraternizing with the enemy. Carmen looks at me, revealing her obnoxiously white and pristine teeth. She disgusts me.
“Hey, come join us!” She motions for me to come over.
I slowly walk over unwillingly, my stomach churning again ever so slightly.
“Carmen was just telling me about her travels, she’s been everywhere. How cool is that?!” Lo exclaims.
“Oh yeah, where have you been?” I ask, half interested while chugging back the remainder of wine in my cup.
“Well as you may have noticed, I have a slight accent because I’m actually from Spain.”
Oh great. How wonderful, she’s actually foreign. A sexy Spanish girl, I’m sure Braeden looooooves that.
“That’s cool” I reply dryly.
The conversation continues as she tells me about life in Spain, road trips in Australia, the month she spent volunteering in Africa. This girl really has been everywhere. Luckily for her I’m really interested in travel and her stories are somewhat intriguing to me.
Just as she begins to win me over with her crazy and amazing travel stories she adds, “Ya, Sue and Rob can’t believe all the travel I’ve done alone. They think I should have a guy like Braeden around to make sure I’m okay. They worry too much! But I guess it’s because they see me as the daughter they never had!”
How the fuck is she already on a first name basis with Braeden’s parents!?!?! There’s no way she’s closer with them than I was, after a mere few months. And the fact that she has to go around rubbing it in my face…. any ounce of respect that I momentarily had for her is now gone.
I smile grimly and toss in a halfhearted laugh to my performance as I turn and walk away. I turn the corner; making my way to my phone I left charging in the other room. I look up and Braeden is right in front of me.
This has gotta be the worst night ever. I gag a little, thinking about this situation and how much I’ve had to drink tonight. Time to call it quits and head to bed.
I find a spot on the futon to sleep and replay the events of tonight as my head spins, faster and faster until I fall asle..
BEEP….. BEEP…. BEEP….. BEEP…
UGH. It’s way too early for this shit right now. I roll over onto my stomach and automatically feel the hangover from last night. I roll back around, opening my eyes and see – –
“Morning!” Carmen’s perfectly groomed face is just inches from mine.
“Hey”, I respond dryly.
“Lo and I are going to head down to the dock to tan, wanna join?”
You’ve gotta be kidding me, she’s won over Loey too….. I feel my stomach flip again and I can barely think with my head pounding.
Carmen heads towards the door in some itty-bitty bikini, showing off her perfect body. I look down at my stomach to compare, making me feel even more nauseous. I decide it’s best if I get some more sleep.
I open my eyes one by one, as the sun shines brightly through the large glass windowpanes. Seeming to feel better, I grab my bikini and head down to the dock to enjoy the day with all the others. Almost everyone is out by the water – including Carmen and Braeden. Ignoring them both, I place my towel down and stretch myself out while applying sunscreen.
“A few of us are going to grab some ice cream, I’m buying since I lost a beer pong bet last night against Bray. Wanna come with?” She says giggling.
Bray…… I called him Bray. If there is a hell on earth I’m most certainly living it right now.
I look at Braeden and notice as he does his best to avoid eye contact.
“No, I’m not feeling great,” I say sharply.
“Are you coming with us, Bray?” Carmen asks.
“Nah, I’m gunna hang back here,” he answers.
“You’re never any fun cuz! Even when we were kids he said no to ice cream, I never understood!” Carmen exclaims, as she walks past me.
I stop in my tracks as I feel every ounce of alcohol make its way back up and splatter all over the ground. What a fucking relief.