Jennifer stood to the side of the party, watching groups of people drinking, laughing, shouting over the music. If it weren’t for her best friend, she wouldn’t be here.
The same best friend who had abandoned her to talk to some other people. She had tried to be part of the group, briefly. They were too busy talking about their own things, inside jokes that she wasn’t a part of, people she didn’t know, things she didn’t care about. Her friend hadn’t even introduced her. So she had wandered off in search of some food. Chips, hummus, slices of bread, whatever was available.
In the kitchen, three girls wearing too-short dresses sat at the table. They stopped talking as soon as Jennifer entered, looking her up and down with sneers.
“Hello,” Jennifer said. The three girls stood and left, eyes rolling. “Okay then,” Jennifer said, turning to the refrigerator.
She found a loaf of bread and some peanut butter, and after another moment of hunting through the bottles on the door, some jam. She took a slice, slathered it up, and returned everything else to the fridge. She closed the door to find a woman standing directly behind it. Jennifer jumped.
“Geez, you scared me!”
“Oh, sorry,” the woman said. She had long dark hair, poofed up with artificial volume. She wore skinny jeans and a tight t-shirt, not quite see-through but not quite opaque. Her eyes were a clear brown, and she seemed unable to not move, her hands alternately sliding up each arm, her back slouching and straightening.
“Hi, I’m Jennifer,” she introduced herself, holding out her hand.
“Hi, Melissa,” the squirrelly woman said, shaking limply before returning to her arm movements. She jolted a little to the side, then straightened up again. “How do you know Tommy?”
“I’m actually just here with my friend Laura. She knows Tommy, I guess, though I haven’t met him yet.”
“Oh, okay. Yeah, he’s really nice, you’ll like him.”
“Well, I look forward to it then.” Jennifer took a bite of her bread, chewed, then said around it, “How do you know him?”
“Tommy, how do you know him?”
“Oh, he and I used to work together.”
“Ah, I see.”
Melissa’s hands moved up to her shoulders, not quite hugging herself. “And what about you, how do you know him?”
Jennifer looked at this twitchy, apparently forgetful woman. Melissa’s arms went down to her sides, and she straightened her back, then crossed her feet in front of her.
“Uh, through my friend, Laura. She’s somewhere in the living I think.”
“Ah, okay then, cool. He’s super nice. This party is so chill, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Jennifer said.
The stood for a moment, not looking at each other. Finally, Melissa said, “Anyway, I need to go find someone. It was nice to meet you.”
“You too,” Jennifer said, not extending her hand. Melissa walked around the corner and out of the kitchen, her limbs jerking unnaturally like a recently re-animated zombie. Jennifer watched the exit, her eyebrows high, then returned to eating her bread, planning an excuse to leave.