Heels clicked on the sidewalk.
“I can’t stay late,” they said, stuffing their hands in their jacket pockets.
“Okaaaaaay, I get ittttt,” their friend said, fixing her hair and adjusting her shirt.
When they moved up the walkway to the house party, they looked at the time on their phone. 9:43. It was barely getting started. They had to be gone from this party at midnight unless they wanted to feel the wrath of their step-siblings and step-parents.
As the two friends entered the house, they were greeted by the host.
“Hey, there,” he cooed, his voice deep and soothing, making them shudder.
“Hey! This is my friend, they can’t stay long. Bathroom?”
He pointed to a door and smiled as she clicked off to the bathroom.
They stood there looking around, the host watching them.
“You alright? Do you want something to drink?” he asked, making a step toward the kitchen.
“Eh? Oh, no… I mean, yes… Yes, I would like a drink,” they stumbled with their words, their face feeling hot with embarrassment. He smiled at them and nodded, leaving towards the kitchen.
They sat on the couch, staring at the TV that had a screen saver playing.
“Here,” a voice said next to them. They jumped a bit and looked up. The hos was back, two glasses in hand, one filled with water, the other filled with something boozy. He handed them the glass of water.
“Thank you,” they whispered, taking the glass and sipping from it. He sat next to them.
“My name is Brandon. But people have been calling me Bran since Game of Thrones hit the screen,” he said, grumbling at the last bit. “Brandon is a fine name on its own.”
They smiled and chuckled.
“I’m…” they paused for a bit, not sure if they should give Brandon their real name or a fake. They weren’t supposed to be out.
Brandon smiled at Ren and held out a hand.
“Nice to meet you.”
Ren took Brandon’s hand and shook it, feeling the roughness on his palms, the veins on his hands.
“Nice to meet you, too.”
Brandon got up, saying something about greeting other people that walked in and that he’d be back. Ren looked at their phone. 10:20. Ren got up from the couch and walked outside, where most of the people were hanging out by the bonfire. They noticed their friend snugged up on someone and sighed.
“Should have stayed home.”
They walked onto the porch and leaned against the railing, looking up the bits of sky that were visible in a sea of clouds.
“Oh, there you are!”
It was Brandon. Ren turned around and stared at him. He smiled and took Ren’s hand.
“Let me show you something,” he said, dragging them upstairs.
“Whoa, hey, no, I don’t go down like that,” Ren said pulling their hand back when Brandon started pulling them toward a room. Brandon nodded.
“Understood, but this ain’t that.” He opened the door and pulled Ren in before closing the door again.
The room had one wall that was nothing but a window, a telescope stood off in the corner. Ren blinked and slowly made their way to the window.
“Rich people always have the coolest shit,” they whispered, looking into the telescope.
Brandon let out a nervous laugh.
“Why did you bring me in here?” Ren asked.
“Oh, because of your shoes. The window faces that part of the sky and…”
Brandon went off on a tangent about the stars on the particular corner of the universe, how many stars he’s managed to count, how he and his classmates stayed up all night one night to watch a meteor shower they happened to catch.
Ren listened intently, watching Brandon aim the telescope to a particular part of the sky and had Ren look into it. They talked and looked and watched and laughed and–
Ren’s phone buzzed. 12.
“Fuck.” Ren shot up from the floor and ran off.
Ren tripped over their shoelaces down the stairs and fell before quickly getting back up and taking off before embarrassing themselves further. By the time Brandon got to the bottom of the stairs, Ren was already out the door and sprinting down the street.