The Bonfire Ball
I glare at the suit that Hermann has arranged on my bed. I should just skip the Bonfire Ball. Go to the nearest supermarket. Buy two litres of soda, popcorn, chips, the works. Watch a couple of movies. Anything to avoid the Bonfire Ball– where 1A and the rest of the freshmen of my year will be wearing their finest, where Nevena will be….
/Oh stop being so dour./ I don’t respond. /Oh please, the silent treatment grows dull./ Still not responding to Verde.
On the other hand, I did buy the suit in Stockholm, our capital and the resident city of douches and hipsters. 9000 kronor it cost– enough money to rent an apartment for three months in a small town like Fallowfell. Enough money to buy three decent suits. I trace a finger across the cloth of the jacket. I don’t need supernatural senses to tell me that it’s expensive; it feels expensive.
/OOOH. Wear it. You know you want ittttttttt.../ I ignore Verde.
It’s often said that the clothes makes the man, and wearing a suit like this, I would be freaking James Bond. I sigh and undress. Next to each piece of the suit are cards with flowery script, descriptions on how to dress. Hermann’s way of making sure that I dress properly.
Twenty minutes later of careful assembling, and another twenty minutes later of web-tutorials in how to create a bowtie and some wax and I am done. I check myself in the mirror and…
…. and I take it back. I don’t look like James Bond. I look like James Bond’s nemesis. The bowtie, the eye-patch, the crisscrossing scars, the all too long hair. I make a move like I am holding a cat. “No Mr Bond”, I say as I stroke the imaginary cat,” I expect you to die.”
/You suuuuuck./ Alright. /So now you’re talking to me, eh?/ Oh you deserved every second of the silent treatment, you and knew it. /You mean that you realized that you were acting like a sulky child and decided to grow up?/ I mentally grumble something that could be either a yes or no.
I get out of the villa, on top on my bike, and I slowly make my way towards Ochre. After all, I don’t want the wind to ruffle my hair.
I cross the Crimson Bridge, which on this day of honor is covered in black garlands that smells seductive and I lock my bicycle at the usual place. I make my way through Ochre High, an oddly silent Ochre and I muse about what the Bonfire Ball will have in store for us.
I enter the cafeteria–
— and I stop and stare. Is this truly the same cafeteria where we eat? Where you can buy coffee and a sandwhich if you like?
One end of the cafeteria has three long tables, each with vast tableclothes and cutlery. The other end has an impromptu stage, perhaps for speeches and the like. The left corner have become a bar serving what I hope is non-alcoholic drinks. The floor is spotless. You could conceiveably eat on it. A mote of light dance in my eyes and I glance up. Crystal chandeliers, ten of them, hang from the ceiling.
“Hhhh… hey Rune”, someone says. I turn, only stare once more.
It’s Shirin, except it is a Shirin I have never seen before. Her dark skin is accented by a green dress. Kohl, or atleast I think it’s kohl makes her hazel eyes look smoky. Her black hair falls behind her like a waterfall.
I fall on a knee and kisses one of her knuckles. The whole act is a joke, but Shirin blushes and runs away. Drat, that wasn’t what I had planned. I was attempting to be galant. “Man, you really can’t catch a break with girls, can you”, Amanda adds while sidling up to me.
She rearranges my bowtie and takes a step back. “There you go. It was a bit off.”
“Thanks”, I grumble, and add mentally but no thanks. Today Amanda is wearing a red dress which splits at one knee, revealing a toned leg. I don’t think she is wearing any make-up, and if she does, I certainly don’t notice it. “Now Rune”, she whispers,” you mustn’t apologize to Nevena.”
“I… wait, what?” I glance around, and nobody is paying attention to our conversation, seeming to busy to mingle.
“Look… right now Nevena is mad at you. Anything you tell her will fall on deaf ears. So it’s for the best if you wait a week or two and then apologize. And also, this fucking mess isn’t entirely your fault, you know. We, 1A, have all seen you trying to talk to Nevena, only to have her shut you down.”
I turn Amanda’s words over and over, looking for some subtle dig or some kind of sarcastic joke, but after a second or two I have to conclude that she is being entirely honest. A frightening prospect.
“You really think so? And why… why would you help me?”
“I do think so– trust me, I am a girl, I know girls. And as for helping you”, she pauses, a sad look, or a as sad look as I ever seen on Amanda’s face passes over like sun seen through clouds,” someone once did me a bad turn. A situation not unlike what you’re going through right now. I told myself that if I ever encountered something like that, I’d try to help.”
“Thank you then, Amanda”, I say sincerely. “Don’t thank me– you can ‘thank me’ by not screwing up this situation”, she says with her default sarcasm. Ah, there, the old Amanda is back.
“Werewolves are related to dogs right?” I point at a particular colorful cocktail. “Fetch!”
“…. I am going now Rune…”