“You look ridiculous, Tim,” Adam said.
“Oh, really? Have you seen yourself,” Tim asked sarcastically. “You look like a kid that couldn’t wait to dress himself after mommy gave him free rein to choose his identity.
“Dick,” Adam mumbled under his breath as he checked his clothes.
“Eh, you’ll get over it,” Tim said with a shrug. “This party looks lame.”
“Then why did you come here?”
“I’d prefer meeting someone then playing your stupid video games again,” Tim said, turning to him slowly. He held a pause to emphasize how serious he was through his sarcasm.
“You like it,” Adam said after a moment.
“Oh yeah, please give me more! How I crave hearing pre-pubescent boys talk about how good my mother is in bed through your Xbox.” Tim’s sarcasm was dripping down the walls.
“It’s a good game,” Adam said defensively.
“It’s like sports, Adam. Love the sport. Hate the fans. Anyways, I’m gonna get a drink. You want something or you sticking with juice pouches?” Adam scrunched up his bottom lip and avoided Tim’s eyes. “Loosen up, jackass,” Tim said carelessly.
Tim proceeded to the kitchen where older teens had their backs facing him. He entered and checked everyone’s rear end and then their shoes. Adam spun around aimlessly and pulled his lighter out of his jeans and flicked the flame on as he eyed someone he could connect with. A familiar face. A familiar feeling… No one. No one was in his space.
“What a stupid party,” Adam mumbled to himself as he slid a cigarette behind his ear and looked for a mirror. Maybe something was on his face and Tim was jerky enough to let him wander around strangers without telling him.
A trio of girls walked into the living room wearing similar halter tops and ripped denim shorts.
“Hey, how’s it going,” Adam called out. He got their attention, but noticed their smiles and laughter melted away. “You come here often?”
The girls laughed silently to themselves and migrated to another room in the house. They tiptoed away as if that would make them invisible from Adam.
Why was this so hard? “Ugh! I don’t even know why I’m here! Damn!”
Adam made a beeline for the front door with stride. He hated how isolated he felt. Was is so wrong wanting to be seen. He stomped towards the door and envisioned one person he spoke with. He could see himself smiling next to someone who was grayed out like an unavailable link on an app.
Adam’s moment blinded him from the person he had just collided with. Adam’s breath exhaled in sync with the thin stranger.
And then the sound of liquid spilling onto the carpet. The two separated slowly, looking at the wet spot between them. Then each one looked at each others shoes. Adam’s Converse’s were slightly dirty and sloppily laced. The stranger’s wore black Vans. Neither could see the others shoe had liquid on it.
Adam held his breath as each of their eyes slowly scanned upward. Adam saw the stranger had a belly shirt on covered with belts and thin chains and a small black messenger bag. He bumped into a girl.
Don’t panic more.
“My beer,” the voice said somewhat nervously.
Half of the contents within her red Dixie cup soaked the fabric under them. Adam combed his fingers behind his ear and noticed something. The cigarette he put there had bailed. It found a new home in the girl’s cup.
The girl’s shoulders slouched as Adam silently pointed to the new contents of her drink. His mouth opened awkwardly and uttered incomplete words and sounds to bring attention to it. The girl looked down at her cup and scoffed with a shrug.
“Huh, healthier for you,” she said.
That’s when it happened. Adam’s eyes met hers. All the attention he had was called to the stranger’s sparkling hazel eyes. Adam lost track of time and his space as if he were getting pulled into an event horizon.
Absolutely, Adam heard a distant voice that sounded like him say in the sway of her eyes.
The stranger frowned with a smile. “Why are you staring at me?”
Adam babbled and then shook himself out of his trance. “I’m not. I mean… maybe…”
The girl chuckled silently to herself and placed the red cup on the coffee table beside her.
“Are you wet,” Adam asked.
The girl smiled, thinking the boy may not have been aware of how he sounded. “No. I’m fine. Do you want me to get you another pack?”
Adam looked up for the cigarette he forgot he lost and back to her. “NO! Are you kidding? That shit’s expensive. I don’t even smoke!”
“Then why were you wearing it,” she asked. Adam’s armpits started to sweat. He had gotten a good look at her. She was thin and wore a black outfit. He saw freckles underneath her eyes. Her hair was pushed back and her black jeans were ripped. “Is that a thing,” she asked after Adam stopped responding.
Adam blinked. “Obviously… not.” Adam swallowed twice. Hard. “Do you want me to get you another drink?”
She let out a laugh and slapped Adam’s shoulder. Adam’s eyes shot open. “That would imply, I drink,” she said finally.
Adam exclaimed, “clever girl,” with his best British accent.
The girl smiled understanding the Jurassic Park movie reference. Lynn snorted. “Such a dork.”
“I guess we’re even,” Adam said confidently. “Do you come here often?” Adam’s eyes shot open again. “Dammit,” he mumbled under his breath. He knew you didn’t say that line at a house party.
“So,” she started, leaning in real close to Adam.” “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m undercover like James Bond.” She finished the last part in a loud whisper.
Adam exclaimed with the revelation. “I like watching people too,” he said with excitement.
“You like creeping on people when they don’t know,” the girl asked in a monotone voice, raising an eyebrow. Adam froze with his mouth open until the stranger cracked a smile. “I’m kidding,” she said, pushing Adam’s elbow softly.
Adam felt a smile grow across his face and a warmth within him. His smile made the girl smile wide. “What,” she asked with a blush.
Adam took a step to the side and eyed her. The girl’s skin shivered. “Oh, okay. You got jokes,” he said finally.
“Well, you’re easy,” she said as her smile grew wider on her face. She moved closer to Adam. She felt familiar in an unexplainable way.
“I’m not that easy,” Adam said. “So, what’s your mission?”
“Jamie Bond, right? The super spy in the boring suburbs of New York…” The girl chuckled to herself as she buried her head in his chest. “So, what’s the mission?”
“I’m not supposed to say,” she said. “But if I could, I would say right now, I’m strictly observe and report.”
“Really, now?” Adam saw the space between them was shrinking. He carefully put his right arm around her and rested his palm on her back. “So what’s his story,” Adam asked as he guided her to look with his right hand still on her back.
“Yeah,” Adam answered.
“He’s confident that he knows the whole party scene. But what people don’t know is that he’s done this before. He failed a year.”
Adam paused as he frowned.”Are you seriously a spy,” he asked, backing away only partially.
“No,” she responded with alarm. “Why?”
“That’s my friend, Tim! And he was left behind a grade,” Adam said.
“Really,” the girl asked as she bowed down in laughter.
The two spent hours sizing people up and guessing their thoughts and dreams. Until it was clear that both of them had passed their curfew. Adam stepped over a broken vase and held the girl’s hand so she could step across. She blushed as she stepped over carefully, but tripped towards Adam. Adam crouched and held her arms securely. Their noses nearly touched.
Adam was face to face with her. Her eyes completely enveloped his field of vision. He felt whole and content. He let out a deep sigh as they both stood up. “Do you want to…”
She nodded. “Let’s get out of here.”
The two walked seven blocks in complete silence, holding hands. They approached a wide home with a lonely porch light illuminating a light blue door. The smell and sound of water sprinklers sent shivers across their skin.
Adam pointed to the door and she nodded. They had reached their destination. She was safe. She entered the gate and closed it behind her. The two still remained present with one another.
“Night, stranger,” she said.
“When can I see you again,” Adam asked.
“Tomorrow,” she said. “We’ll walk again.”
Adam lit up and shook his head as if he’d been in a pink haze. “I didn’t get your name.”
“Adam. My name is Adam.” Lynn chuckled. “What’s funny?”
“I’ll let you figure it out. Goodnight, Adam.”
Adam and Lynn became a couple and spent their days together, getting married, having kids and growing old… that’s how Adam wanted it.
But it wasn’t. And Adam knew that.
Lynn was taken and this memory grounds Adam because it’s a constant reminder of what it was like to be alive with her. And Adam would get her back. He had no idea how.