I didn’t want to go to the party, but Tommy made me. Tommy makes me do a lot of things and I don’t always like them, but sometimes I do. I can’t believe how many things he has forced me to do in such a short space of time. Though forced is such a strong word – it sounds bad. It sounds like abuse, and having no choice. I always have a choice. I don’t believe it when people say they don’t have a choice. You can always run away from something. You can always just do nothing. Unless someone has you tied up in a room somewhere so you can’t move. But even then you have a choice – you can try, or not try, to escape. I have never wanted to escape from Tommy.
Tommy wrote a list. He wrote a list of all the things he wanted to do, and he said that I could help him. He said it would be fun. Sometimes I trusted him. Sometimes I wanted to tell someone else about what we were doing, but he made me promise that I wouldn’t tell anyone anything about us. The things we did.
The night of the party, we were drunk. So very, very drunk. He found out about the party through a friend, and we were drunk before we got there. We didn’t realise how drunk we were until it hurt the morning after. It was a birthday party, I think. I can’t be sure. It could have been a christening, but I’m not certain. It was so late at night. We showed up late. People were sprawled on the floor, people were upstairs, downstairs in the kitchen, the bathroom, the garden. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people crammed into such a tiny house. Tommy headed straight for the punch bowl and I followed him. I followed him everywhere when I was with him because I didn’t know anyone in the places he would take me. He was a bad guy, people used to say. They don’t say that anymore. Nobody says anything to us anymore. Not after the party.
We stayed for a long time. Nothing really happened for the first few hours. Some people left. Some crashed out on the couches, nestling their faces in the crevices of each other’s bodies – the nape of the neck. Armpits. Top-and-tailing. Anywhere where they could get a space. If they hadn’t passed out they were doing something else entirely different in whatever dark corner they could find. Or not. Tommy said we should do it too, but not tonight. I said it was my first house party, and he told me not to worry, that there would be more.
I believed him. I believed everything that came out of his mouth – those thin lips, usually cradling a cigarette, much like the one he dropped in the bedroom at that house. The one I forgot to mention to him right after he dropped it because I was so drunk. Then when he started fumbling in the dark, I saw the spark out of the corner of my eye, but I still didn’t realise what was happening. The orange glow on the floor disappeared as we slid under the duvet. But as soon as we came up for air we saw and we turned and we ran. We ran so quickly. The house was ablaze with all those people inside but we didn’t stay to find out if they all got out. I believed everything Tommy said. He said one day we would forget about all of this. I believe that, too.