No-one she invited came to her 14th birthday.
She was allowed 25 people.
Her father had originally said no to any party, but her mother, knowing how important this was, had implored him to see sense. He nodded.
In a flash, she was in her bedroom, on her bed, designing invitations. She didn’t really have friends, but it was a small school. She knew people. She wrote a list, wrote their names onto the invitations, carefully applied lipstick and kissed each one. S.W.A.L.K. Her heart fluttered.
She hand delivered each invitation to each person in turn. She knew. But she prayed they would come.
She was not really surprised when only 4 people on her list arrived. She was an outlier. She always had been and would be for the rest of her life.
The party started at 7pm. Her mom had used money from her savings, savings earmarked for leaving her father, to pay for a DJ. The bottom lounge had been cleared of its furniture, the party food had been planned and prepared. Her mother had even let her a buy a new outfit, knickerbockers with a matching cream top.
But no-one came.
At 7:45, with the DJ playing soft music in the background and the four girls huddled in a corner, the doorbell rang. She opened the front door. She looked up. She recognised him from school. Older than her. A rebel. Swore a lot.
“We hear there’s a party here.”
Her heart quickened. Her father would strip it if he knew. She swallowed. She decided.
“There is. Would you like to come inside?”
He motioned behind him. 10 to 15 people stood behind him. Some from school. Some not.
They filed in and nodded at her. She nodded back. She had no idea what they thought of her. She didn’t care.
Her father appeared. She panicked. Would he know?
“Are they on the list?” he demanded.
“Just what kind of friends do you have? They’re a bit old aren’t they? Typical, you punching above your weight.”
She just looked at him.
The DJ, sensing the party had just begun, cranked up the music. Soft Cell’s Tainted Love blared out from the speakers. People piled into the middle of the lounge to bump and gyrate.
Her best friend shouted at her, “Let’s dance!”
And they danced. She danced. She danced like there was no tomorrow.
At school on the Monday people spoke about her party. How cool it was. How her father had let them sleep over. How he had partitioned the room into girls and boys sections and how he had made her sleep in her own room under pain of death if she emerged from it. They spoke about how they had fucked under the tarpaulin in the garden, how they had got drunk. She was unaware of this, but delighted for it.
Her 15 minutes of fame had arrived. It was enough.
Enough for him to notice her. Enough for him to get to know her. Enough for him to ask her out. Her first boyfriend.
He was the school adonis. Not necessarily in looks, but in sporting prowess. People adored him and his talent. “Jefferson! Jefferson!” they would shout as he walked past. And she was his girlfriend. She was happy to bask in his reflected glory. She no longer was the outlier. She had him.
Years later, after they were married and just before he died, he would confess to her that he didn’t really like her. He fancied her best friend but was too shy to ask her out and so, knowing how desperate she was, he asked her out so he could be closer to her best friend. It explained a lot. So much. “But I grew to love you,” he said, “I do love you.” Too little too late.
Everyone in her cohort had fucked. Except her. Jefferson wanted her to fuck him. And she wanted to fuck him. But she was afraid she would go to hell for having sex before marriage. Plus she was 14. That seemed young. Her loins begged to differ.
She let him touch her. She loved that although once she thought she peed and that was embarrassing. She had no idea she had cum.
It was time.
And so a plan was hatched.
They would do it at an upcoming party. They would sneak off and he would deflower her. And she would become a woman.
Two days before the party her father accused her of lying. “You are grounded!”
Her heart raced. She begged him to let her go. She feared him, yet her need to be deflowered overcame any sense of reason. She hadn’t lied. He was mistaken. Please, please do not do this. She begged her mom, begged her to help him see reason. He relinquished an hour before the party. “You fucking well keep your legs firmly shut!” he had yelled at her.
In the run up to the party she had become really nervous about the whole thing. She kept asking her best friend questions, drawing on her experience. “It hurts, I’m not going to lie. It hurts like hell. But you will love it.”
She didn’t want it to hurt.
At the party her friend brought out the plastic bottle of booze they had siphoned from her dad’s booze cabinet. She would have offered her dad’s booze, except he never left any in the bottle for her to siphon. They drank it. She felt it burn and then the tingle as it infused with the cells in her body. The first of many times booze would numb her pain.
She saw him across the room. He looked at her. The lust thick in the air. Her heart beat in her ears. He sauntered over to her, grabbed her, kissed her hard. She was going to do this. She was scared, exhilarated, scared.
“He is going to impail you!” someone had shouted across the room.
They were right. He did impail her. Among the yarn, in the party house sewing and knitting room, he impailed her. No romance, no tenderness, no love, just pain. Thank god for the booze. Thank god for the numbness of the fucking booze.