Olivia had been so busy with school and social events that she had completely forgotten about her birthday. Olivia had also given up on birthdays a long time ago. They were never as sparkly or magical as she wanted them to be. Olivia rolled over in her bed and stretched, getting caught up in her baby blue comforter. She looked out the window at the stars and the black sky. It was still early. She was having a lot of trouble sleeping. A few seconds later, Jane came running into her room screaming, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SISSY! She was holding a cupcake with a lit birthday candle stuck inside the frosting. Olivia jumped up. She laughed. She couldn’t believe she had forgotten her own birthday. Olivia made a wish and blew out the candle. Olivia gave Jane a hug and licked the icing off the cupcake. She had a sweet tooth. Her phone lit up. She leaned over and grabbed her phone off her bedside table. It was Alyssa. Wow, it was Alyssa. Every year on her birthday, Alyssa would call Olivia at midnight. It was actually around five AM, but regardless, Alyssa never missed the traditional birthday phone call. Olivia didn’t want to answer, but she felt obligated.
“Happy birthday Livvy! I know it’s super early and I probably just woke your pretty butt up, but I hope you have an awesome day,” Alyssa exclaimed sounding wide-awake.
“No, you didn’t wake me up. But, thank you Lyssy! I’ll talk to you later. Bye,” Olivia said softly.
Alyssa had more to say, but Olivia had already hung up. Jane looked at Olivia.
“Well, that was the shortest conversation ever spoken. But, anyways! You’re officially seventeen, baby sister! We have to celebrate today. What do you want to do?” Jane asked as Olivia was getting out of bed. Her long silk robe dragged behind her.
“Let’s get dressed up tonight and go out to eat. I need a martini,” Olivia said, taking off her robe and throwing on a knit sweater.
“Truth, we really haven’t. Ok, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll go out around seven. Also, I’ll give you your present tonight at dinner,” Jane told Olivia with a wink, as she walked out into the kitchen. She was up way too early to be without coffee and drugs.
Olivia nodded and blew her sister a kiss.
Olivia lounged around all day while Jane cleaned the apartment. Olivia received an endless chain of birthday texts and a few people called her to wish her a happy birthday. Her old cheerleading friends put up a post on Facebook, dedicated to her turning seventeen. Olivia’s uncle Mike called her and asked her if she would like to stay with him for a few days. He really missed her. Olivia let out a long sigh and Jane asked her what was wrong. Olivia told her that uncle Mike had called. He asked her once again, if she wanted to go stay with him for a few days over winter break. Olivia missed him too, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go. Jane told her it was completely up to her. It wasn’t anyone else’s decision. Jane told Olivia that she only had to go two days out of her ten day break. There would be plenty of time for Olivia to ice skate in Central Park, and do Christmas shopping with her big sister. Olivia nodded. She would think about it.
It was almost seven and Olivia had to get ready to go out with Jane. She straightened her long brown hair and began putting together her birthday outfit. The outfit, of course, was very important. Olivia always spent hours getting ready for her birthday. She decided to wear her new gold-fringed dress Jane had bought for her and a pair of gold sparkly stilettos. The dress was very 1920s, flapper. She felt like she belonged between the pages of the Great Gatsby. Olivia grabbed a coat and told Jane she was ready to go. Jane smiled at her sister. Jane totally approved of the outfit. Her baby sister looked awesome, but not at all like a baby anymore. They decided they would go to a restaurant only a few blocks away (easier to walk home drunk that way). It was a nice night. It wasn’t as cold as it had been the past few weeks, in the city. They got to the restaurant and Olivia noticed a few familiar faces under the Christmas lights, hung outside the entrance. Alana, Krista, and Chris were standing there with big smiles. Olivia squealed! Jane had invited them. She also invited Caleb, but he was running late.
Olivia thanked Jane for inviting her friends; it was very thoughtful. Olivia gave them all a brief hug and they made their way to the table. The restaurant was beautiful. It was one of Olivia’s favorite places to eat in the city. Her parents had taken her and Jane there when Olivia was seven; exactly ten years later, she was back there, celebrating her birthday with her favorites. Olivia always knew Jane would end up living on the Upper East Side. She loved it there so much, ever since she was a little girl. Sitting in the restaurant, Olivia had an immediate flashback to when she was younger. It was strange, not celebrating her 17th birthday with her parents. Every year on Olivia’s birthday her mom would wake up really, really early and bake Olivia a cake. It didn’t matter how tired her mom was. One year her mom had the flu, but she baked that birthday cake to absolute perfection anyway. She could barely stand up, but it didn’t matter. She loved every minute of it. She always did the same thing. The cake was always beautiful. Jane would help, and so would their dad. They’d all tiptoe into Olivia’s room and wake her up by singing happy birthday, obnoxiously and off key. Olivia thought about how Jane had woken her up that morning with a birthday cupcake. Jane had tried recreating their mom’s birthday tradition. Aw, Jane. Olivia felt so thankful for her big sister.
Chris handed Olivia a small bag stuffed with pink and gold tissue paper. She pulled out all of the tissue and threw it onto the table. She smiled warmly beneath maroon colored lipgloss. Krista whispered something to Alana. Olivia pulled out a small box and opened it up. Jane leaned over to see what was in the box. It was an incredibly pretty necklace. It looked as though it was fairly expensive, too. Olivia looked at her friends and smiled. She blushed a little. There was a card inside. It was from Chris, Alana, and Krista. Krista stood up though and handed Olivia another little bag. Krista told Olivia she had gotten her a little something extra. Chris made a face, and put his hand on his head. Olivia pulled out some more tissue paper, her favorite part. She pulled out the gift and everyone laughed. It was a purple bedazzled flask that said “Drink up” on it. Olivia loved it. Jane clapped. It was very, Olivia. Olivia got up and gave all of her friends a warm hug. Jane reached under the table and handed Olivia a silver box and plopped it on her empty plate, as she sat back down. Olivia recognized the box. It was a box from her and Jane’s favorite jeweler. She opened up the box, carefully. Inside was a gorgeous bracelet. It was silver and had small diamonds going all the way around the band. There were two larger, chocolate colored diamonds, where the bracelet clasped shut. Jane looked to Olivia, and told her that the two chocolate colored diamonds represented them, as sisters. They had been through a lot, but they would always have each other, and the bracelet was a reminder. Olivia began to cry. She pulled her sister in for a tight hug and thanked her. She put on the bracelet and couldn’t help but smile. It was beautiful.
Caleb finally arrived and gave Olivia a birthday kiss, on the cheek. He couldn’t help but check her out. Olivia looked around the table at her friends and her beautiful sister. She sipped her martini and watched as Alana laughed at Chris’s jokes. Olivia smiled. She ended up having a pretty amazing birthday; some would even have called it “sparkly and magical.”
Olivia was in the middle of packing for New Jersey, when Chris called her. She leaned her phone between her ear and her shoulder, as she tried to stuff a pair of jeans into her suitcase. He wanted to know if there was anyway that they could hangout before she left. He missed her. She smiled. She told him she was leaving early that night, but he could stop by if he wanted to. Of course he wanted to. Jane walked into Olivia’s room and handed her a beer. Olivia rose the beer bottle up in the air and winked at her sister. She threw a bunch of shirts into her suitcase and her curling iron. She snatched a couple bottles of perfume off her vanity and stuck them in one of the suitcase’s compartments. She hated packing. She stood in her closet trying to think of what else she needed to pack. Life’s way too unpredictable for packing. She almost forgot that she was still on the phone with Chris (oops), who was singing along to some Black Eyed Peas song, oy. Olivia rolled her eyes. She told Chris she would see him later that day, and then hung up the phone before Chris could reply. She was excited to see her uncle Mike, but she wasn’t looking forward to being back in Jersey…at all. She also wasn’t looking forward to seeing Alyssa, but Alyssa had already texted Olivia and asked to meet up as soon as Olivia arrived at uncle Mike’s (Olivia’s old house). Seeing her was inevitable. Jane came back into Olivia’s room and sat down on her bed. She took a sip of her beer and asked Olivia to talk to her about how she was feeling, about going to Jersey. Olivia just sighed. She told Jane she wasn’t planning on staying for very long. Jane nodded her head.
Chris came over that night to say goodbye to his best girl. As soon as he got there he pulled Olivia in for a kiss. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other. They were lying on Olivia’s bed making out, and then Jane knocked on the door. She asked them if they wanted anything to eat. Olivia and Chris both said no, and then went back to making out. Olivia’s shirt was halfway off. Jane rolled her eyes and shook her head. Chris told Olivia he was going to miss her. Olivia smiled. She was going to miss him, too. She never thought she’d miss a boy, because she never had. She kissed his neck and he pushed her down to the mattress. They had sex and then Olivia told Chris she had to hop in a cab…He laughed. He asked her if she was pulling a “hit and run.” She laughed and told him she would love to lay with him all night, but she had to leave for Jersey. She pulled her pants up and fixed her shirt. He told her he would drop her off at the Port Authority, if she wanted. She kissed him softly, which meant yes. Jane came into her room and told her to get a move on, before she missed her bus. Olivia told her she was ready to leave, and that Chris was going to go with her to the bus station. Jane winked at her sister.
Olivia rolled her suitcase out into the kitchen and gave Jane a hug. She told her she loved her, so much, and that she would call her when she got to their old house. Jane blew Olivia a kiss as she and Chris exited the apartment. Chris stood in line with Olivia until her bus came. He kissed her sweetly and told her to text him. She told him she would and gave him a hug. She didn’t want to let go. She already missed him and his alluring smell. He winked at her as she got onto the bus. She waved to him and disappeared into a crowd of people, making his way back up to 8th avenue.
As soon as Olivia drove through the Lincoln tunnel, she missed New York City. She missed the taste of a Manhattan bagel in the morning, and the sound of taxis buzzing around her. She missed the sound of cars screeching to a halt in the middle of the night, and the endless amount of designer boutiques welcoming her on each block. Before she knew it, her long bus ride was almost over. She called her uncle Mike, who was perpetually late, and told him to pick her up at the bus station, near her old house. He told her he would be there shortly. She sat at the small, quiet bus station waiting for him. Uncle Mike finally arrived and Olivia hopped into his old Ford pickup truck. She loved that old thing. He threw her suitcase into the back of the truck. He kept staring at her, which made her feel awkward. He told her she looked so much older. She smiled. She didn’t feel as though she looked any older, but apparently she did. She put her hand on Mike’s arm. He looked good. Olivia wanted to set him up with someone. Mike deserved someone special, because he was special. They joked the whole way home. Olivia and Mike had always had an amazing relationship. He was one of her best friends. They got to Olivia’s old house and Mike let out a sigh. He told her he hadn’t changed much around the house, besides her parent’s old room, which was now his bedroom. She shook her head. She got out of the truck and tried avoiding the puddles. It had rained a lot before she had gotten to Jersey. She thought about the day her parents died. It had been pouring. Raining cats and dogs. She shut her eyes really tight for a moment and took a deep breath. Mike brought her suitcase into the house and she followed behind him, slowly. It was her first time back in the house since she left for New York City, to live with Jane. She got inside and looked around. Everything looked pretty much the same. It was as if she had never even left…It was, a little neater than before, because Mike was anal about keeping things clean and perfect, but also because there was only him living there now. Mike brought her suitcase up to her old room and then came back downstairs. Olivia sat down at the kitchen table. Mike asked her if she wanted to order pizza or Chinese. She was quiet for a good minute, and then said she was in the mood for Chinese, always. He smiled and said he was too.
They ate Chinese food and watched old Disney movies, all night. Mike was a kid at heart. She told Mike about her new school and her exciting city life. She told him about her new friends and Chris. Mike was impressed with how well she had adjusted to living in the city. Mike wasn’t a city person. He didn’t understand how anyone could be happy living in such a hectic place. Olivia and Jane loved it. He told her she was always a city girl at heart, and that she was never meant to stay in some small town in New Jersey. She looked to the floor. He was right. She missed her old house at times, but she loved living in the city. She also couldn’t imagine not living with Jane. She needed her big sister as close as possible. Mike asked her more questions about Chris. Mike was so nosy, but Olivia always told him everything, anyway. He was the absolute best. He was a lot like Jane. She told him she really liked Chris and that he really liked her. Mike nodded his head and took a bite of his beef & broccoli. He threw a fortune cookie at Olivia and she laughed. She threw one at him and they opened theirs together. She read her fortune aloud and he did the same. It began to pour and Mike could tell Olivia was feeling uneasy. Olivia told Mike that the day her parents had died, it had been pouring and there was a really scary storm. He pulled her in for a hug. She held onto him tight. She was glad she was spending time with Mike, even if it was in Jersey.
Alyssa called Olivia and told her she would be over in a few minutes. It was almost midnight. Olivia told her that was fine though, and that she could just spend the night since it was rainy and late. When she finally got there, Mike opened up the front door and gave Alyssa a hug. He asked her how she’d been. Mike had known Alyssa since she was five. Alyssa told him she was great, but she missed Olivia a lot. Olivia stood by the stairs. Alyssa saw Olivia standing there, her old friend, and smiled.
Olivia smiled at her, right back.
“I’ve missed you so much!” Alyssa ran over to Olivia and gave her a big hug. Olivia hugged her back, and told her she had missed her too…although it didn’t feel like before.
“Do you want some Chinese food?” Olivia asked Alyssa as they walked into the kitchen. Chinese food always made uncomfortable situations, easier.
“No, I already ate, but thanks anyway.” Well, I guess that ruled out Chinese as an icebreaker.
“Do you want to go up to my old room and watch a movie?”
“Yeah, we can catch up and watch a scary movie,” Alyssa suggested, and the two girls went upstairs.
Olivia and Alyssa talked for a few hours about a lot of stuff. Olivia could tell Alyssa was displeased by the fact that Olivia still drank and that she occasionally smoked weed. Alyssa also couldn’t believe that Olivia had sex all of the time with Chris. Olivia told Alyssa, that sex and alcohol weren’t a big deal. Alyssa shrugged her shoulders. She looked uncomfortable and Olivia asked her what was the matter. Alyssa ran her fingers up and down Olivia’s comforter and then looked to the floor. Olivia asked her once more…what was wrong.
“Okay, well I’m sort of dating this guy now…” Alyssa began.
“Oh, well that’s great! Not that you two are sleeping with each other, which is the actual fun part of being with a guy, but that’s still awesome Lyss. Do I know him?” Olivia was finally interested in something that was coming out of Alyssa’s mouth.
“Uhm, yeah you know him.”
“Well…who is it?” Olivia asked her friend, who still looked super weird and uncomfortable.
“Evan,” Alyssa admitted.
Olivia got red in the face. Evan was her ex-boyfriend who she had lost her virginity to. She had been totally head over heels in love with him, but he ended up cheating on her, with Alyssa’s slutty cousin. Olivia couldn’t believe Alyssa would do that to her. Alyssa fingered through her short, newly dyed red hair and waited for Olivia to say something, anything.
Olivia just stared at her for a moment before saying, “Oh, well that really sucks for you. Evan is an asshole. He cheated on me, which you already know, so I’m sure he has already cheated on you; once a cheater always a cheater. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.”
“That’s a pretty bitchy thing to say, Liv.”
“Yeah, well dating a guy who used to mean the world to me…who used to make me smile on a daily basis, and who also BROKE your best friend’s heart is pretty bitchy too,” Olivia snapped, shooting Alyssa a fake smile. Olivia could be so mean at times. When she was angry, she didn’t care. She always said exactly what was on her mind.
“Ok…well, it just happened. He isn’t an asshole anymore, Olivia. Maybe we could all hang out tomorrow. Jamie Smith is having a party, since her parents are out of town. You should come.”
Olivia couldn’t think of anything more awful than hanging out with her ex-boyfriend, her ex-best friend, and a bunch of people she used to know, but for some odd reason Olivia said sure, why not? Olivia rolled over in her bed and went to sleep. She pulled the covers over her head and sighed. She was pissed off and didn’t feel like dealing with Alyssa anymore that night.
Olivia drank three beers before even getting to Jamie’s house. She had Mike drop her off, because she really didn’t want to go with Evan and Alyssa. That was a threesome she definitely wanted to avoid. Evan had recently gotten his license, apparently. Alyssa wouldn’t shut up about it. When she got to Jamie’s she saw a lot of familiar faces. Jamie’s house was huge. Her father was super wealthy and her mother, well she was a train wreck, but she sure knew how to decorate. Their house looked as though it belonged in Beverly Hills, not South Jersey. Olivia walked up the front walk towards the house. Memories rushed back to her. A few guys smiled at her and a couple girls she was once close with, stopped to say hello to her. They were already pretty wasted, and were acting sloppy and obnoxious. Her old friend Britt complimented Olivia on her outfit. Olivia thanked her. She was wearing a low-cut shimmery blue top and tight white skinny jeans. She wore blue stilettos, eight inches high of course, and her hair was up in a messy bun. Her lips were glossed up with shimmery lip-gloss, and her eye makeup was done dark and smoky. She looked at herself in the glass on the front door, and then the door flung wide open. It was Jamie. Jamie greeted Olivia with one of her famous fake over the top smiles and hugged her tightly. She told Olivia she was so glad she could make it and handed her a red cup filled with beer. Oh, there was that classic cheap beer she had missed so much (not). Olivia grinned and told Jamie she wouldn’t have missed her party for anything, which was such a lie, but whatever, Olivia was there. Jamie laughed and walked into the other room to join her friends in a game of beer pong. Jamie was nice enough to people’s faces, but she was really fake. She had backstabbed every single one of her friends, including Olivia. Olivia had cheered with her since they were five…she knew Jamie very well.
Olivia didn’t see Evan or Alyssa anywhere. She texted Alyssa and asked her where she was. She knew they weren’t hooking up anywhere, because that wasn’t Alyssa’s style. She assumed Evan was hanging out with his annoying guy friends, and Alyssa was sitting alone somewhere, sulking. Evan was a horrible boyfriend, especially at parties. She made her way to the back of the house, and stepped out onto the back deck, where a bunch of football players were smoking. A brisk breeze blew by her. There was a huge lake behind Jamie’s house and a dock leading out to it. There were big illuminating lights strung across the yard. It really did look beautiful. Who would’ve thought…New Jersey could be beautiful. Olivia snapped a picture of the lake to Chris. He texted back, “I miss you.” She smiled and put her phone back in her purse. All of a sudden there was a hand on her shoulder. She whirled around and saw her old friend Brian standing behind her. She gave him a hug and he told her she looked great. He told her the town had gotten rather boring after she had left. She could believe that. She asked him if he wanted to go for a walk by the lake, and he said yeah. They walked around the lake until Alyssa called Olivia and told her to come up to the house. Alyssa sounded antsy. Olivia told Brian they would hangout again towards the end of the party, but that she had to go meet her friend. Brian told her that was fine. He wasn’t going anywhere. Brian had the greatest smile. Olivia always fell for Brian’s smile. It was hard not to.
Olivia walked back up to the house and made her way into the dining room; her heels loud against the tile. Jamie’s house was getting a bit crowded; the usual. Alyssa was standing in the corner of the room with Evan, who was staring at another girl’s ass. Typical. Olivia couldn’t help but laugh. Same old Evan. Alyssa was desperately trying to get Evan to kiss her, but he wasn’t paying her any attention. Olivia walked up to them and took a big gulp of her beer. Evan’s eyes grew a bit wider when Olivia approached them. He said hello to her and gave her a brief hug. She told him he looked good. He thanked her and Alyssa let go of his arm, which she had been clutching fairly tightly. He told Alyssa he was going to go play pool with his friends. She gave him a dirty look, but said okay. Alyssa didn’t have the energy to argue with him. Olivia pulled Alyssa into the other room and handed her a cup of beer. Alyssa looked at it, and then put it down on a table next to her. Olivia rolled her eyes at her boring friend and told her she needed to start drinking. Evan was an ass and would always be an ass. Alyssa told Olivia she was wrong about Evan, and that he was just in a bad mood. Evan must’ve been born in a bad mood, then. Olivia nodded and pretended to believe her friend. She waved to Brian from across the room. He waved back. Alyssa looked concerned.
“Brian, huh? Didn’t you two used to hookup?”
“Uh, not really I mean we hooked up once, but that was back in the 7th grade. He’s such a nice guy. Most guys around here suck, but he has always been such a good guy,” Olivia said.
“Yeah, I guess he is.”
Brian walked over to Olivia and asked her if she wanted to go out on Jamie’s boat with him. He couldn’t bear to be out there with the bimbos alone. She said sure, and asked Alyssa if she wanted to go too. Alyssa just stood there, clearly wondering if Evan would miss her, and then finally said, “Uhm…ok…I guess.” She wanted Evan to go with her, but he was too busy with his friends to bother. Alyssa kept looking back at the house when they were out on the boat. Olivia told her to enjoy herself, FOR ONCE and to smile. Alyssa smiled slightly and took a sip of Olivia’s beer. Olivia looked shocked. Alyssa never drank. Brian took off his jacket and draped it over Olivia’s cold shoulders. It was cold out on the lake, and Olivia was barely wearing anything. Olivia thanked him. One of the football players began throwing up over the side of the boat. Olivia was home…
All of the football players in her old school were such jerks (she finally realized that), besides Brian. He was the school’s starting quarterback and was a total sweetheart. Olivia had hooked up with all of the football players. Olivia kept thinking how great a boyfriend Brian would be. She dismissed the thought though as soon as her phone lit up. It was a text from Chris. Brian noticed someone had texted her; he saw “Chris” appear on the screen. Olivia told Brian that Chris was her boyfriend. Olivia felt weird saying the word boyfriend out loud. Boyfriend? She had a boyfriend? Olivia hadn’t had a real boyfriend since Evan…and that was hardly a relationship. Evan used to walk Olivia to all of her classes and they would hold hands in the hallway; that was the closest it ever came to being a relationship. Olivia thought that after she had sex with Evan they would act more like a couple, but of course that didn’t happen. Brian seemed a bit upset when Olivia told him Chris was her boyfriend. Was he jealous? Olivia nodded. The conversation took an awkward turn, so Olivia decided to wander below deck. There was a small kitchen on the boat and a little bedroom. She walked into the kitchen carefully, trying not to trip in her sky-high heels. There was a small bar set up in the kitchen area. Olivia snatched a bottle of Bacardi off of the bar and walked back up the steps. She found Alyssa and asked her if she wanted something a bit stronger. Alyssa said no; fine, more for Olivia then. Olivia took a big gulp of the Bacardi and made a face.
Music started blasting out of the speakers on the boat and everyone started to dance. Some horrible song by Rihanna was playing. Olivia hated the song, but she really wanted to dance. She grabbed Brian by his shirt and started dancing with him, dangerously close. Everyone was acting like a fool, except Alyssa. She just sat there. She was clearly in the worst mood ever. Olivia was really drunk. Jane had called her a few times, but Olivia didn’t hear her phone ring. All of a sudden, Brian pulled Olivia in for a kiss. No one else seemed to notice, not even Alyssa. Olivia wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. She then remembered her boyfriend back in NYC. She pushed Brian off of her and told him she couldn’t…He apologized for kissing her; she touched her lips with her fingertips and walked back over to Alyssa. The boat began heading back to the dock. The girl whose boyfriend had been throwing up earlier, walked over to them. The girl sat down next to Olivia and sipped on a Corona. Brian looked over at Olivia, curiously and Olivia looked away. Olivia smiled at the girl and asked her if she was having a good time at Jamie’s party. The girl shrugged. The girl’s name was Samantha. Samantha was Jamie’s cousin from out of town. Olivia laughed and told her she was also from out of town. Samantha seemed relieved to find out that she wasn’t the only one. She began telling Olivia about how she met her asshole boyfriend, the football player who had been throwing up over the side of the boat. Olivia told her she deserved better. Samantha nodded. The boat finally reached the dock and people stumbled off of it. Samantha’s boyfriend passed out on the grass and Samantha didn’t even seem to care. Sam walked with Olivia and Alyssa back up to the house; she told Olivia that it was very nice to meet her. Olivia gave Samantha a hug and they went their separate ways. Alyssa still had an aggravated look on her face. Olivia grabbed Alyssa’s arm and asked her what her problem was. She seemed more upset than she had been before. She hadn’t even introduced herself to Samantha. Olivia thought it was rather rude and isolating, the way her friend was acting.