Shocked and Shaken
Valerie didn’t bother bringing a jacket, since the party was next door. As she approached the house, she thought of the old days. This wasn’t the same house as Jenny’s family used to live in. The old one was much smaller and in a different neighborhood. It looked like the Crawfords were a lot better off in terms of money now.
She approached the modern home in a short black dress, which she had bought back in Windenburg. Aimee had practically forced her to go dress shopping.
“Glance & Hitburg has these amazing dresses, Valerie, you neeeeed to see them. I bet we’ll find the perfect one for you!”, she had enthused.
“But I hate shopping and you know it. What would I need a dress for anyway?”
“There will come the day you will be grateful for this dress, believe me. Besides, shopping doesn’t seem to bother you when you spend 60 hours a day at the bookstore”, Aimee had grinned.
“That’s different”, Valerie had mumbled, knowing well that she had already lost this battle. Once Aimee was onto something it would take an apocalypse to get her to give up.
The two of them had gone to Glance & Hitburg and strangely enough they had found the perfect dress. Even Valerie had loved it.
Turns out it wasn’t that bad of an investment after all, she mused while she rang the doorbell. Through a window next to the door, Valerie saw that there were already many guests present.
To be fair, she was late; she had been reading Lord of the Flings and the book had engulfed her so much that she had forgotten about the time. Jenny opened the door, beaming at her.
“Come in, come in!”, Jenny beckoned Valerie inside. “Wow, look at you, gorgeous! I’m so glad you came!”
She was practically bouncing with excitement.
“Hey, Jen. You look nice too. I’m so happy we can finally catch up. Make things right”, Valerie replied but Jenny ignored her comment.
“This is going to be the best party of the whole summer break!”, she enthused. Valerie looked around. There were about 30 people there, all teens their age. Who was this girl and what had she done to Jenny Crawford? The Jenny she remembered had been scared to ask someone for a pen, yet alone invite them to a party. On the other hand, the Jenny she remembered had weighed about 80 pounds more. They had both been so different five years ago.
So much had changed, there was a lot to talk about. She was looking forward to clearing the air with her former best friend, but Jenny seemed to have decided that it wasn’t necessary. Valerie wasn’t sure if that was a good thing.
Jenny had grabbed Valerie’s hand and led her through the crowd.
“There’s someone I’d like you to meet”, she said, her tone being giddy with anticipation. They approached a group of boys, one of them laughing loudly.
It seemed like one had just finished telling an only mildly funny joke. The comedy star looked over to them and Jenny waved slightly as walked over. The guy smiled back at her. His hair was black and untidily gelled to the side. His tight, white shirt looked like it was supposed to be worn by someone more trained. He was slim, yet lanky and pale as if he spent more time in- than outdoors. Still, Valerie had to admit that was handsome in his own way.
“Hey, Ethan. I’d like you to meet someone”, Jenny turned towards Valerie. “Ethan, this is Valerie, an old friend. Valerie, this is Ethan. My boyfriend.”
A smile spread across Jenny’s face as she said the last words. The look on her face said it all. She might as well have hearts as eyes. The other two boys at the table grinned at each other knowingly, but didn’t interrupt.
“Nice to meet you, Ethan”, Valerie said politely as she bent over the table to shake his hand.
“You, too”, he replied. His voice was warm, but slightly brash underneath. Valerie wasn’t sure if she liked him.
“So, Valerie”, Ethan started again after a short pause, “Jenny told me you moved here from Switzerland. What’s your plan now?”
Valerie’s face fell. Don’t remind me, she thought wishing for a new conversation topic. But Jenny was also looking at her curiously.
“Well, I want to study psychology, so I guess I’ll apply for a few colleges and see where I get in.”
“Psychology? Sounds like you should consider Havencrest. It has the best psychology classes, everyone knows that”, Ethan said in a way that it sounded both dismissive and encouraging. Valerie’s insides squirmed. She really didn’t want to talk about Havencrest.
“Yeah, I know, I … I’m just considering other options as well, that’s all”, she said vaguely, “What do you two want to do?”, she asked in an attempt to steer the topic out of difficult waters.
“Well, I got accepted at Princetolia and Ethan will go to Dartsprings College. My dad works there so he’ll put in a good word”, Jenny winked and Ethan tried to hide his smile. “I’m just so glad they are both fairly close to Willow Creek, so we can still see each other.”
Ethan nodded but stayed silent, with a slight smile on his lips. Jenny grabbed Valerie’s arm again, “Enough chit chat, it’s time for you to meet everyone.” She gave Ethan a kiss on the cheek, then pulled Valerie away.
“Jenny, are you friends with all of these people?”, Valerie asked wonderingly. Thankfully, Jenny didn’t take offense from the question.
“Don’t be silly. I think 5-ish were invited by Ethan, so I don’t know them that much.”
Jenny led Valerie around the room introducing her to so many different people that Valerie could never hope to remember their names. This didn’t feel like catching up at all.
After a particularly boring conversation with a guy who only talked about his father’s business, Valerie decided it was time for a break.
“Hey, Jenny, could you tell me where the bathroom is?”
Jenny snapped out of the conversation she was listening to intently.
“Sure, it’s right over – oh”, she stopped after they saw a kissing couple fall into what seemed to be the bathroom, “Well, that one’s out then. The bathroom in the kitchen is broken, but you can go upstairs, through the bedroom”, Jenny explained quickly and turned her attention back to the business guy. Valerie didn’t want to ask again though she had no idea which upstairs room was the bedroom she was supposed to go through. I’ll find it anyway, she said to herself and made her way up the stairs.
Suddenly she was standing at the top of a staircase with a strong sense of Deja Vu. She stood electrified as the memory of the dream came back to her.
Slowly she turned and sure enough there was the door. By this point, she had forgotten about the bathroom completely.
Finally, she would find out what she had seen behind that door. Wait a second, it was just a dream. It’s not going to be the same. But the scene was so similar it was scary.
Valerie shivered. Well, she could still check the door anyway. What could happen? But even though her rational mind tried to deny it, she had a feeling the dream would repeat itself. And she didn’t really want to repeat the way she felt after waking up this morning. Shocked and shaken.
Without having realised it, she had taken a few steps towards the door and was now standing right in front of it. I shouldn’t be here. She heard hushed voices and quiet laughter behind the door. Who was inside? What room was this? What did that damn dream mean? Valerie told herself that she’d think about it for ages if she didn’t find out what was behind that door. Breathing in deeply she grabbed the handle and slowly pushed it open. She couldn’t believe her eyes. True to the dream, what she saw shocked her. A lot.
Next: Chapter 5