Ash Park on the left pointing accusingly at Bec Greene, trying to look innocent with spray paint in her hand as the two of them blush, standing in front of a grafitti'ed Halloween Bash banner
Halloween Bash

The Halloween Bash Episode Seven

The Halloween Bash by Raspberry | Content warnings

The cleanup for the Bash takes half the night, and by the time we finish, we all just decide to crash at the closest house to the school: mine. Hosting Shelly, Fraya, and a few other senior girls I barely know seems the opposite of what I want, but I’m already looking like a shoo-in for the next election and don’t want to ruin my chances.

That’s how I find myself on the living room floor with half a dozen other girls as the sun is glaring at me through the window. I roll over and check my phone, which is struggling at an 11% battery. It’s almost noon. I groan and push myself up. Bathroom is first, followed by getting my charger from my room. Mom and Dad’s door is closed, but it’s Saturday, so I know they’re not even home. They’re either at the farmer’s market or Home Depot.

As I trudge back down the stairs, I hear a motor revving. It sounds familiar, and my heart skips so hard I almost fall down the remaining steps. I look out the front door.

Oh, god.

Bec is pulling into my driveway. Bec is parking her motorcycle and getting off. Bec is heading to my front door.

I glance at the living room, but it looks like everyone else is still sleeping. I quickly open the front door, step out, and close it behind me as quietly as possible. It’s only after I turn around that I realize two things: one, I’m right in front of Bec, and two, I’m still in my velvet pajamas. And by pajamas, I mean a spaghetti strap top and shorts in a matching burgundy color that’s only just covering all the important parts. My face flushes so hard I turn the same shade as the pajamas. A cool breeze smacks at my face, as if to remind me how under-dressed I am.

“Hey,” Bec says slowly.

I can’t tell if she’s checking me out or wondering why I’m looking like a human-sized beet.

“What are you doing here?” I ask, folding my arms over my chest.

I’m trying to remind myself that she betrayed me and almost ruined the Bash, but it’s not stopping my heart from tap-dancing.

“I, uh,” Bec says.

Her voice falters, like she’s not actually sure she has an answer to my question. I try to avoid looking into her eyes. She’s wearing her usual skinny jeans and a plaid top again. Her lips are an unnatural shade of pink, which makes me think she didn’t fully wipe off her makeup last night.

Shit, I realize. I definitely didn’t even wash my face when I got home. My makeup was probably smeared all over. I didn’t even glance in the bathroom mirror. I wish the ground would swallow me up and save me.

“I came to say sorry about last night,” she says, and then holds her hands up quickly when she sees the look on my face. “I didn’t do it, I swear. But you seemed pretty upset that your night was almost ruined.”

It was, I want to say, but only a sigh comes out. I try again.

“You’re still saying it wasn’t you?” I say instead. My tone is definitely a lot harsher than I meant.

“Yeah, because it wasn’t,” Bec retorts. “Look, I wouldn’t purposely ruin a night you’ve worked so hard for, Ash. And if I had pulled a stunt like that, I’d own it. You know I’m not afraid of a suspension.”

She seems sincere. Her eyes are soft and pleading, which is a look I feel my knees wobble over.

“You don’t trust me?” she says it in a way that sounds like a mix between a statement and a question.

I want to tell her that of course I do. That she helped me more times than I can probably remember off the top of my head. But I know that’s probably my dumb heart and not my brain talking.

“I want to,” I tell her slowly. “It’s just… it feels like something you would do. I mean, it’s straight out of a horror film, it’s against Principal Crowe, and you can’t stand her…”

“It’s something that would’ve gotten you in trouble,” she retorts. “And I wouldn’t ruin your reputation.”

“Everyone thinks it was you,” I say. “I told them it was something planned that just went off at the wrong time, so you aren’t in trouble but—”

“But,” Bec repeats, her brows furrowing together. “I’m still the troublemaker in everyone’s eyes. So you can’t trust me.”

“It’s not that—”

“You can’t be seen with me.”

I hesitate, and she scoffs. Like, full-on eye roll, head tilted as she exhales so quickly that her nostrils flare. She reaches into her back pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper.

“Well, these were for you,” she says, thrusting the paper into my hand.

I look down and realize it’s tickets. The music festival for next week, according to the creased letters on the folds.

“I already got them, so I’d hate to waste them,” she says. “So go ahead. Take someone a bit more trustworthy and vanilla for you.”

“Bec,” I say, trying to hand her the tickets back.

She crosses her arms and takes a step back. I sigh and feel my feet shuffle towards her.

“It’s not that I don’t trust you,” I try again.

“I’m pretty sure that’s what you already said,” she retorts.

“It’s not that—”

“Or you’re afraid of what your reputation would be if you started hanging out with me?” she guessed. “Pick any excuse that’ll help you sleep at night. I’m not going to tear myself apart trying to please you.”

Her words sting like a slap, and I feel my words fail me. She turns and walks off, hopping on her bike and speeding away before I can even close my jaw.

I want to trust you, I send after her telepathically. And it freaks me out that I want to this much.

I open the door and creep inside. The whole living room is awake, and I feel a dozen eyes on me. It looks like I’m the only one who changed out of my costume from last night, though we all seem to have forgotten to wash our faces. It looks like a graveyard of zombies.

“Morning,” I squeak out.

“Who was that?” Fraya asks immediately.

“It was Bec, right?” Shelly asks. “Are you two, like, you know…?”

She pauses, but I know what word she’s searching for. I shake my head quickly and try to not look disappointed.

“We were just talking,” I say, hiding the tickets in my hand behind my back.

“Did she admit to doing it?” Fraya asks from the couch.

Her shimmery makeup has faded into oily, and the punch stains on her dress never seemed to have washed out. She looks more like a Victorian ghost than an ice queen now.

“She didn’t do it,” I say.

“I mean, who else would’ve done it?” she counters. “Apparently it was ‘no big deal’ but still, it could’ve gone south.”

It’s the way she says it, like she’s disappointed. I narrow my eyes as I stare at her long and hard. A flush creeps into her cheeks.

“How’d you spill punch over you?” I ask.

“I was startled,” she replies quickly with a roll of her eyes. “I think the stain will never come out.”

“Which punch were you drinking?” I ask. “The cauldron punch from the Nancy’s Nibbles booth? Or the one from 6th Street Cafe’s booth?”

She hesitates, looking from me to Shelly.

“The Cafe one, I think,” she says with a toss of her head. “Honestly, I don’t remember.”

I’m already realizing I’m an idiot.

“The Cafe was selling smoothies and juices,” I say. “But none of them were that bright red color. And Nancy’s punch was green. We didn’t have any red drinks for sale this year after half the junior class complained about stained costumes last year.”

Fraya’s flush has turned scarlet. Shelly opens her mouth and closes it again as she looks from me to Fraya.

“I’m guessing…” she says slowly. “That that trick on Principal Crowe wasn’t a part of the show.”

“I lied,” I admit. “Because I thought it was Bec, too. I didn’t realize you’d stoop this low to ruin my night, Fraya.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Fraya says weakly and tosses her head. “Besides, Principal Crowe already said it’s okay, so what are you going to do? I made the night better.”

“You could’ve hurt someone!” I snap. “You could’ve gotten Bec expelled! All to have a better chance at being president next year?”

“Is that what this is about?” Shelly asks, like she doesn’t know how cutthroat elections are.

Her eyes are wide, but nothing else seems to say shocked in her body language. I’m starting to wonder how much of this Shelly has already known about, but now isn’t the time for that conversation. I turn my attention back to Fraya, whose lower lip is trembling as a flush creeps across her neck.

“It’s not fair,” Fraya huffs. “You don’t know anything about horror. I should’ve been in charge! You can’t even speak in public without sweating through your shirt! Why should you be president?”

“Probably because she wouldn’t have a tantrum like a baby and dump fake blood over the school principal while trying to frame someone else,” Shelly jumps in. “And the night was great. So she obviously does know horror.”

I feel a twinge of guilt. As much as I like Shelly tearing Fraya a new one while looking like a frazzled, knock-off Princess Peach (a Princess Peach doll that had been stuck in the car cushions for a few days), I know I should set things straight.

“Actually, a lot of it was Bec,” I say. “She helped so much with the Bash, and she almost got expelled for nothing. I couldn’t have done anything without her.”

“Good thing you recruited her,” Shelly says, still glaring at Fraya. “I think it’s time we got out of your hair, Ash. I have some messages to send in the group chats.”

She smiles at me with smudged pink lips and motions the rest of the group out of the house. I’m a little relieved that Fraya follows, but now I’m alone.

“Hey, Ash?” Shelly adds, peeking her head back in the doorway and giving me a smile. “Tell Bec we’re all sorry she got wrapped up in this, okay?”

“Okay,” I say in a soft voice. “If she’ll talk to me again.”

“I hope she does,” Shelly says and then winks. “You two are a really cute couple.”

I stammer and feel my face turning red again, and Shelly just laughs.

“It’s obvious to anyone with eyes,” she says. “But I won’t say anything if you’re not actually out out.”

“Thanks,” I say slowly and clear my throat. “I’m not… ashamed or anything. I just—”

“If anyone tries to judge you, they can fight me,” she says matter-of-factly. “But also if you’re trying to keep your crush under wraps, you should really work on your poker face better.” She gives another smile. “Anyway, good luck.”

I hear the door close with a satisfying click, and I look down at my hand. I’m still clutching the music festival tickets. I remember Bec’s smile last night as she invited me. The rush I felt as I wondered if this was going to be a date. I ruined everything, I think with a sigh.

I grip the tickets harder and run upstairs. If I can change quickly (and definitely wash my face this time), I can be at her place and begging for forgiveness in half an hour.

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