The house was filled with a liquid, loud, amber light. It swirled in eddies, silhouetted every secret, infested the walls with a bright, chaotic happening. Everything was altered and filtered by this light, made golden, as if the fingertips of Midas had skated across all surfaces in the woken, crowded house. So many people were drowning in it, swimming and swaying and singing, and it fell through the windows, dripped in long columns into the glittering street.

Outside, a little rain was falling, rippling puddles of gold forming in the road.

Outside, a stranger approached the roiling suburban house.

She stepped in through the doorway and shook off the rain. As she was absorbed by the sound, roaring music and endless laughter, she batted her lashes like twin butterflies, and so a monsoon began in some remote corner of the universe, headed swiftly in their direction. The people at the party, though, remained oblivious to the significance of her arrival, including Ryan Barrie and the long-legged, yellow-haired girl that stood together in the middle of the room, center stage.

The front door shut behind the stranger.

And so the show began.

"Are you sure it's okay for me to be here?"

"Of course it's fine," my sister replied, frustrated. Her boyfriend Carson had disappeared, fighting his way through the house to find some drinks, and she was getting impatient, huffing and puffing and flipping her long yellow hair. "Now stop following us around."

"But Audrey, I don't know anyone—"

"You would if you tried," she snapped. "But you've been super-glued to Carson and me all night. I just…I don't understand you. You beg me to take you to this cool, older party—"

"Sorry, what?"

"—and now you're not even trying to enjoy yourself. This is your chance, Ryan. Come on, embrace it. Mingle. Have a drink. Break a heart."

I gaped at her, trying to decide if she was making fun of me.

"I begged you?" I repeated at last, my voice hardly audible over the music, all bass and beat and a wind tunnel of a voice. "That's not even remotely what happened."

Audrey waved a dismissive hand. "Whatever, the point is that you should have been begging me. You're sixteen now. You should want this. You need this. You need tonight. Trust me, okay? I know what I'm talking about. This shouldn't be torture."

This was not an unfamiliar routine from Audrey. For ages now, she'd been attempting to convince me that I was too old to stand aside. Tonight had been more or less an ambush. Less than an hour ago, I had been happy at home with my Netflix and a can of Mountain Dew. Now, the night was writhing and bright and loud and utterly alive around me, filled with faces I didn't know, eyes that wouldn't recall me come morning.

At that moment, Carson returned, pressing a red cup into Audrey's hand and murmuring something in her ear. He smiled at me, close-lipped and lazy, and said something unclear. The music soared, spiked.

"What'd you say?" I asked, but Audrey put her hands on my shoulders and gave me a gentle push.

"He said 'get out of here, you party animal, you'," Audrey chirped, grinning with pointed white teeth through the teasing lie, and she and Carson were subsequently swallowed up by the choppy sea of the crowd.

I, skinny and anonymous in my old sweatshirt and probably the youngest person present, felt very much alone in the middle of that room, there as the heat from all the meshing, dancing bodies rippled and elbows jarred from all sides. Everywhere I turned people were roaring with laughter, stumbling over each other, crying over their cups, kissing in corners. Not one of them was familiar. Audrey had sworn that this night would be "on the brink", the beginning of something for me, had to be. Truthfully, though, it was all very unnerving; I'd never drank before, had never even been to a party. I'd been invited, sure. I just...preferred something simpler—something where I could pick the music and know all the people, and the smiles were really for me. Where the smiles were real, period.

Sighing and, despite everything, not wanting to ruin Audrey's night, I resolved to find something to drink. Not something to drink,necessarily, like my sister would have liked, but just something to get the lump out from where it was stuck in my throat. Eventually, I located a card table where a pyramid of plastic cups had been constructed, and plucked one off the top. If I could only find the sink…

As I wandered through the house, I tried to remember exactly whose house it was in the first place. A friend of Audrey's friends, I knew, something along the lines of Amy or Jamie or Jen. It made me slightly nervous, not knowing what my host even looked like—as if at any minute someone in the throng of people squealing and shouting and singing would catch sight of me and wonder why on earth I'd come, point and glare and tell me to get out. It was a foolish, irrational thought. I knew that. It wasn't as if this Amy/Jamie/Jen knew every single one of these people well, or even at all. And it wasn't as if any of these people were in any state to process how out of place I was.

This, too, made me nervous. The party was awfully loud and lit and raucous, and without any of the upperclassmen giving me a second glance, I wasn't so sure it was worth the risk of getting caught.

Getting caught doing what? my brain mocked in a voice suspiciously like Audrey's. I brushed it off. It wasn't that I thought I was better than everyone else by not drinking or smoking and the like. It's just that I honestly wasn't comfortable losing myself for the very first time in a room full of strangers that didn't care, that didn't even know my name.

By now, I'd found the kitchen, but as the doorway was occupied by a super-glued couple laughing into each other's lips, I abandoned my quest so as not to have to squeeze between them. In the labyrinth, I sighed, and leaned alone against the wall.

Somewhere in the house, there was the sound of glass shattering. The ensuing drunken laughter reverberated off the golden walls, and, ignored, a red stain was seeping across the carpet amidst shards of glass like fallen snow. Meanwhile, something else was seeping into my future. A future that started…now.


"It's always interesting, being the only sober person in a room," a voice said in my ear. "It's like being inside somebody else's dreams."

Startled, I spun around. A girl stood tall and thin before me, composed of all the magic things and more mysterious ones still: ribbony moonlight skin, waves of dark brown hair that plunged to her waist, a long model's neck. A half dozen piercings studded her left ear and one long green feather dangled from her right. I didn't know her, had never seen her before. I would have remembered, for she herself looked like she'd emerged from inside somebody else's dream, beautiful in a bold, breakneck kind of way. Nor did I have the slightest idea what had made her approach me. But, boy, did she approach me.

For she was close—maddeningly so, so close I could smell the scent of her skin, vanilla and silk and sweat and soap, a sweet breeze of it. Hardly an inch away, her combat boots were lined right up with my tennis shoes, and her bright eyes shone with a madness of the most miraculous sort. Rather than be swallowed by them, I took a reflexive step backward so that I was pressed against the card table. Though she was sober, there was something intoxicating about her indeed.

"I don't know you," the girl explained before I could tell her she had made some kind of mistake. "I just sort of thought that maybe it was a bad idea not to."

I supposed that was a compliment in some language I didn't know, the dead language of gorgeous girls in green tank tops and combat boots. Not entirely sure what to say in response, I just waited in vain for the introduction that never arrived. Shifting uncomfortably, I finally stuck my hand out.

"Ryan Barrie."

She slid her hand into mine. Every finger on both of her hands glittered with a ring of varying size and color. A tattoo ducked in and out of her sleeve, just a single stream of cramped, little words I couldn't make out.

"Magdalena X," she replied casually.

I couldn't help myself. "What's the X stand for?"

"It's a secret." She put a finger to her lips. "You've been here before?"

"Uh, no, actually."

She half-smiled, the edges of her mouth curling up. "You been anywhere before?"

I blinked, suddenly self-conscious. "What?"

She gestured to the empty cup in my hands, then at the warm chaos all around us. "You know, to a party like this. I was just thinking that you probably haven't. Otherwise, you wouldn't be…awake." She did not say it meanly or judgmentally, more like it was another compliment in her head.

I figured again that, for what was not the final time, this girl was but a dream after all.

She leaned forward again, as if to continue in that conspiratorial voice. Everything she said, I'd later realize, was a little like that—eager and hushed and tinged with the sort of excitement that came with such things. There was music in it, her voice, but not any song I knew the words to.

Before she could get the words out, though, a girl stumbled between us, boy in tow, their sweaty hands clasped together tightly—the pair from the kitchen doorway. I glanced wistfully over towards the vacated doorway, still searching for the sink, for some sort of purpose, and wondered if I should venture over there. Just as the thought occurred, though, Magdalena reappeared, lips still parted in an unspoken reply, wearing mischief and mystery and magic like perfume.

She reached up and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. There was another stream of words scribbled there, subtle and secret and small on her neck. The ink looked, of all things, a little smudged, and something in my brain kicked in then, right along with the train of thought blaring through that was still remarking at the benevolent shine of her mad eyes and the way she said "awake". This something was contradictory and ugly, though, and it whispered things like careless and careful, kid, careful and not for you. It was the sound of my own voice this time, not Audrey's.

I was no good at small talk, anyway.

"I think," I said uncertainly, swallowing, "that I should get going. I need to find my friends. It was really nice meeting you."

"Hey, wait," Magdalena said, reaching out and grabbing my hand as I started to walk away. Surprised, I stopped and turned back to her, her ten rings cold against my skin.

"Look, I didn't mean to be nosy or anything," she promised. "I wasn't trying to embarrass you or make you uncomfortable. That's not what it was, I swear."

"No, really, don't worry about it."

"I'm serious. I'm just a naturally and horrifically curious person." I tried to ignore the fact that her hand was still holding mine, but couldn't. Maybe the whole room knew. "Let me tell you something about me now. A secret."

Before I could react, Magdalena X pulled me forward so that her mouth was at my ear, close enough that we could have been dancing, just another piece of the puzzling crowd.

"The X," she whispered in that odd, intimate way of hers that sent shockwaves down my spine, "stands for 'Exciting'."

When she pulled away, she was grinning. It was a bright smile, authentic and inviting and ambiguous, and this time it was me who forgot to pull my hand away. Realizing I was staring, I blinked and mumbled something incoherent. Space oozed between us again.

"What?" she asked.

"Uh," I said, louder, and that was all.

She was still smiling, straight into me. Just like that, the golden light bouncing off the walls and ceilings and staccato notes wasn't all around me anymore, but inside me too.

"It's not my real name," she admitted, as if it weren't apparent, "but it's what everyone calls me."

Then I was dismissed.

"Go," she told me. "Get a drink. And the next time I see you, you get another secret." She pointed her fingers at me like a gun, winked. "So long as you stay awake."

More people pushed between the two of us, further widening the gap, but by then it was too late. The hurricane had hit, and neither of us would ever be the same by the time the sun came out again.

Once the people cleared, Magdalena had drifted away, swallowed up by the loud, riled masses. Still slightly in shock, I remembered the cup still empty and waiting in my hand, and went to get my drink of water. I needed it.

Fifteen minutes passed, a blur of people and music and messes, and then I spotted Magdalena in the middle of it all, admiring the stereo. Not sure if she actually wanted me to approach her or if I wanted her to, I stood off to the side where she was sure to see me but pretended like I wasn't looking, like I hadn't noticed her.

Sure enough, she made her way over, tapped me on the shoulder. I smiled a little at the wall where she couldn't see, something secret growing inside.

"My tattoos aren't real," she whispered, her chin resting on my shoulder. "And that's a legitimate secret right there. You hold onto that one."

I turned to face her, frowning. "What do you mean?"

She pulled her hair to one side, tilted her head so I could see the words written in a messy scrawl on her neck. "I mean, it was done in marker. They're just things I've heard or ideas I've had that I want to remember. I mean, I know that there are easier ways. I just like doing it this way because these are the things that make me up, day to day."

There was something endearing about the fact that she gathered such an assortment of things on her skin, something very honest, very poetic. A girl like her could hardly be described in words, and she knew it, so she sewed herself out of them instead.

I squinted at her neck, secretly glad of the opportunity to be close to her again and not entirely sure why.

"Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther, and one fine day…" I read, then met her eyes. "That sounds familiar. What's it from?"

"End of The Great Gatsby," she replied easily. "Fitzgerald. Read it?"

"Yeah," I said slowly, recalling. Of course I had—I'd read everything else. "Yeah, I did." I cleared my throat, stepped back. "Who wrote it there? On your neck, I mean. You couldn't have very well done that yourself."

Nearly smirking, her very being generated electricity. "Just another character in the grand cast of my life," she said mysteriously, fixing her hair the way it had been before. "And guess who's starring tonight?"

"I don't know," I replied, and then, with an attempt at humor, "Johnny Z?"

In response, she rolled both her eyes and the sleeve of her jacket up and showed me the words on the underside of her arm. "What's this from? Go on, I'm quizzing you. I was at the library this morning, and I got a little lost."

and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road

I thought about it. Not the half, hurried quote—I'd known that right away—but how to answer. If Audrey had been beside me, she would have laughed aloud and claimed not to know, never mind the tidy pile of novels that were now gathering dust at her bedside. I knew all too well, however, that I was nothing like cool and popular Audrey Barrie.

"Catcher in the Rye," I answered at last. "Salinger."

She grinned again. "You read it for school, or for fun?"

"It wasn't, uh, it wasn't for school."

"Oh, come on, coward. Just admit that you've got a big bookshelf at home. I know you do." She winked, adjusted her sleeve. "It's not like it's some secret. A few of which I have for you, by the way."

Over the course of the night, as we fell apart and together and back again, always by surprise, she told me a whole horde of strange things that were barely secrets to begin with—she'd lived in seven different cities over the span of eighteen years; she could play "Ode to Joy" on the piano with one big toe; she was fluent in Arabic. Lastly, and strangest of all, perhaps, she didn't know anyone here.

This was seemingly an issue that had caught someone's attention, as during one of her disappearing acts, I was waylaid by my sister and her boyfriend. I knew right away that they weren't quite as far gone as everyone around them was. There was still a little awareness in their eyes, like a dim light. They were, however, teetering on the edge. Audrey's hair had fallen flat across her forehead, and her lipstick was smeared in one corner.

"Who's that girl, Carson?" Audrey asked, as if she didn't have me cornered.

"I dunno."

"She said her name's Magdalena," I said. "Or did you want to guess?"

Audrey shook her head, frowning. "I don't know a Magdalena," she said, as if that meant anything at all. "Where's she go to school?"

I hesitated. "I don't know."

"Who'd she come here with?"

"I don't…I don't know."

Audrey pursed her lips, batting back again the hair that had fallen in her face. Carson just rolled his eyes.

"Hey," he told her, "at ease, Mama Bear. Ryan can handle it, I'm sure. Isn't that part of why we brought the kid?"

She folded her arms. "Yeah, but she's…I don't know. I don't care." The lingering look on her face betrayed her. "This party's a bust, though. I'm going to go find Allie and say goodbye. When I come back, we're going."

She dragged Carson off, and I rolled the name Allie around in his head. That definitely had not been the name of our hostess before.

The song changed then to something I knew. And somehow, I also knew where I'd find Magdalena again. While Audrey did have a point, and I didn't know anything about this girl, certainly not enough to warrant any sort of interest, I did want to say goodbye, goodbye to her mysteries and her colorful, catching madness, for some secret, undiscovered part of me hoped she'd say stay, even if I wouldn't.

I should have known that she danced like water, fluid and smooth and shimmering in the golden light. When I met her in the middle of the room, she grinned again. Her eyes were bright and alive and inviting.

"Apparently," I told her, "the girl who lives here is named Allie."

"Allie?" she repeated. "Really? Huh."

I raised my eyebrows, expecting a secret. Instead, she took both my hands and made me dance, or at least attempt to. I wasn't any good, but Magdalena really was, so I hoped it evened out. I soon discovered that this was not the case, but she offered a distraction from the awkwardness of my own bones.

"Underneath all this," she gestured to herself at last, quite quiet under the music, "I'm wearing…" She danced close to my ear, lips red as roses and dripping these secrets like blood, "Reindeer socks."

I laughed, both a little bewildered and relieved by the playfulness. "What? It's September!"

"Oh, so what then—reindeer only exist when it's convenient for you?"

I shook my head as she put her arms over her head, swayed and shimmied and jangled. "I don't believe you."

"Now, really," she reprimanded. "That's the one you don't believe?"

"Yeah. I'm not buying it."

Magdalena moved close, draped her arms around my neck, over my shoulders, still moving like the tides. Her breath was a little burst against my cheek, incredibly and unnervingly near. It was warm and mint and a flurry of words.

"Tell me a secret," she murmured, but that was the thing about me: I didn't have many secrets worth telling.

Beads of sweat began to form at the back of my neck as I thought of one. Magdalena X was the only other sober person in the raucous, vodka-soaked room, but she still seemed the most like trouble, and I couldn't make myself tell her. Puzzled and bewildered and nervous, it was a sort of salvation when somewhere over my shoulder, I heard Audrey and Carson call my name.

"I think you're being paged," Magdalena told me. "Is it past your bedtime?"

"'Fraid so," I said, untangling myself. I didn't move away from her though, even as I spoke farewells. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the sliver of space still between us, or even if I wanted to do anything with it at all, but still I left the option open for even a mere second more—one second too many. "Goodnight, Miss Magdalena X."

She winked at me. "We'll see."

Then, without another word, she let herself be swallowed up by the dancing crowd, the smile still phantomlike on her face, the one from inside a dream I'd long forgotten.

I closed my mouth, and ignored the laughter as I walked away.

"I'm sorry, Ryan," apologized Audrey, emerging out of nowhere and taking my elbow. As she proceeded to haul me through the crowd, Carson bobbed along behind us, looking indifferent. "I thought this was going to be more fun. A chance for you, you know? Grab my jacket, Carson!"

I wasn't really listening. Not normally someone who would be entranced by some girl at some party, the whole world was slipping in only in flashes—the crowd parting around us, my sister's hold on my arm, the night air slick and dark on my skin, like feathers of a blackbird. Finally, though, my head began working again, and I realized how foolish I must have seemed to Magdalena. To everyone. It was stupid of me to think that I'd ever be capable of being a part of a world like that one, how exhausted just skimming the surface had made me. I hadn't been able to form more than a couple coherent sentences around one new person, had been spotted as an outsider right away. It just wasn't in my nature, the rush, the crowd, the dance with the mysterious girl nobody knew. I wanted to shake myself for playing along with the delusion.

"Are we going home now?" I asked my sister softly, a raindrop slipping down my face.

For we weren't far—minutes, only. This I realized a little wistfully as the door to the party shut behind us. Though the rain was falling, making the road black and slick and sparkling, I recognized it. I'd learned to ride my bike on this street—I remembered the shakiness of my tires, the blue streaks of sky, and Audrey grinning just ahead, her hair flying behind her, encouragements shouted to the wind. Even back then, she'd been a leader, undaunted by any challenge, and the only person who'd ever loved me long enough to count.

Yes, we loved each other still, or at least, I hoped we did. I had kept the pace in life steady, the handlebars steered straight, enjoying the scenery, but Audrey had kept on racing ahead, long past where I could see her shape against the swallowing skyline. It felt almost strange, now, with her thin arm threaded through mine. They were close, and still ages away at the same time.

Tonight was proof of that.

Did she realize, I wondered, how incapable I was of being like her? Of even existing in this world of hers—one of light and constant movement, popularity and wild nights? Was Audrey ashamed of me, desperate to fix what I was, fashion me into something shiny and new that she could parade around?

The rain began to fall harder, heavier, the drops faster and bigger; they dissolved the picture in my head like a chalk drawing, the colors still running through his cracks, a mere memory now.

Trailing behind us, Carson looked up from the middle of the yard as if mystified, blinking slowly.

"Does anyone remember where we parked?" he asked in his easy, careless way. Audrey's jacket was halfway tossed over one shoulder, a bright shock of pink against his dark sweatshirt. He patted his pockets, apparently having forgotten more than where we'd left the car.

He swore softly, mildly, and only once—the closest thing to prayer that I had ever heard of him, and the most passionate too. "Forgot my keys," he murmured. "Stay here."

Audrey retreated from the lawn back under the covered porch, sinking down onto the concrete stoop, hauling me along with her. She smiled at me, albeit weakly.

"Idiot," she said on the border between fond and frustrated, with a backward glance at the door. "He's always forgetting everything."

I considered Carson, a boy conjured of simple things and gravel streets: a slow syrupy voice, the scruffy origins of a beard, a run-down car with one window stuck, and an abandoned guitar pick in the depths of his pocket. He was good in general, but whether or not he was good for my sister I wasn't so sure. Where he was easy-going and contented, Audrey was brisk and confident and directive, all action and sound and event. People liked her, said she was going places, and she liked people—or at least, what they could be and do and mean to her. She surrounded herself with life and schemes and dreams, while Carson was okay with sitting in the sun, letting his car run out of gas and good humor.

"Why do you like him?" I asked finally.

"Why do you ask? I thought you liked Carson."

"I do," I assured her. "I mean, he's nice enough. He's just not really…"

"My type?" she asked, and I nodded.

She bumped her knee into mine. "Go on, what's my type, then?"


"Come on. Humor me."

I sighed. "I don't know. Somebody ambitious, or organized, or cultured. Exciting. Prospective. And Carson's…"

"Not like me," Audrey finished.

"Yeah. I guess."

"Maybe that's a good thing," Audrey shrugged. Her shoulders were bare, dusted with freckles and raindrops without her jacket. They made her look younger, realer, and definitely colder. She moved surreptitiously closer to me. I tried not to let on that this was of some comfort.

"But you're always fighting."

"Are not," she countered. "I yell at him, and he pretends to listen."

"Same thing. You don't even seem to like him."

"Oh, don't be such a damn fool, Ryan. I love him."

The weight of these words rested on us a moment, like the rainclouds on their haunches atop the roof's shingles. Audrey repeated herself in an unraveling voice, as if it was a sudden revelation and it hadn't been quite so full the first time.

"I love him. I've got to."

We sat beside each other for a long time, waiting for a ride home, waiting for the rain to stop, waiting for the words to come. Every once and a while, I snuck a glance at her, perched neat and practiced on the pin's head between in control and out. All my friends always said how smart, how popular, how pretty Audrey was. People were always saying how attractive she was. They also claimed that there was a lot of resemblance between us Barrie kids, but Audrey, vain and confident Audrey, always glanced at me and adamantly denied it. I wondered if that meant anything.

"Did you have a nice time?" Audrey asked me at last. She sounded like she didn't want me to say yes, like she still wanted to expose me to a wider, wilder world.

So I said, unwilling to try it all again on an even grander scale, "Yes," just in case I was wrong, not because it was true.

I wasn't wrong.

She sighed. "I wish I could say the same."

"I mean, it seemed pretty big. What…what was the issue?"

"It just…wasn't what I was looking for."

A car passed the house, its tires squelching across the soaked pavement before the headlights ghosted away. She wanted me to ask, and I knew it, so I did. "What are you looking for, Audrey?"

"Everything I can reach. Anything I can dream. One of those nights that we want to last forever. You know—one that lives on and on and on, that we can have forever."

Maybe if you drank a little less, a bitter part of me thought, but I didn't dare say that out loud.

"Is that a challenge?" I asked dryly. For me, this very night was unending, but not in a good way.

"Isn't it?" inquired a voice. We turned around and found Carson in the doorway with Magdalena X standing alongside in a black jacket, smiling devilishly with the words still on her lips. "The forever nights are hard to find because they're so scarcely the ones we go looking for."

She winked at me, then glanced at Carson.

"You all right?" she asked him.

"Yeah, I think so. Thanks again for your help. I never would have found them in the couch." He grinned wolfishly at his girlfriend. "I also found sixty-five cents."

"Goody," replied Audrey, barely listening. She was staring at Magdalena, or what she saw of Magdalena—the lines of ink and the scuffed shoes, the one fluttering feather earring. Magdalena, however, had only eyes for the night and her car scrunched and shiny in its parking spot down the street. And one last, tantalizing glance at me, of course, like we shared any significant secret after all.

"It's nothing," she replied to Carson's earlier thanks, waving a bejeweled hand as she left us. Her hair rippled like the rain behind her. "Goodnight, all."

The fluttering of nervousness and intrigue and sheer terror that had filled me all night began to dissipate as she started to disappear. She'd left me with a lot of questions, but that was somehow okay. I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle knowing.

That was the problem, see, even if I didn't realize it yet: everything was, simply, okay. I was fine without knowing, and there was a certain flaw in that. There was nothing eternal or memorable or goldenabout that night for me. At least, not until Audrey took a few steps forward, her heels clattering on the slippery walk, clumsy and teetering.

"Wait," she called after the strange girl. "What did you mean? Before, when you came out here."

Magdalena X stopped in the empty street and turned to look at the three of us, standing there on the porch at half past ten. Something sparked in her mad, mad, eyes, tugged the corner of her mouth into that tempting smile; her restless soul stood wipe open in that moment, banging on its hinges, calling us on in.

"I'll show you," she said at last, then continued towards her car.

I saw Audrey blink, surprised.

"Well, well, well," she said with a familiar look on her face—the tilted chin and raised eyebrow that I knew meant she was weighing her options. Then, she half-smiled, and the answer was clear. Carson must've recognized it too, for he wordlessly held out an arm. Audrey took it, and together they started after Magdalena X.

"Wait," I said in hushed tones, trailing behind. "We're not actually going with her, are we?"

"Why not?" my sister asked over her shoulder.

We have no clue who she is. She makes me nervous. I can't figure her out. She knows I'm not like you guys. She could actually make something of tonight. There was a multitude of worries spreading through my head as the three of us made our way towards the classic white car parked under a tree, all of the anxieties growing as the party and its sleepless, stubborn glow fell behind us. However, none of my misgivings found a voice.

Audrey finally looked back at me, pleading. Come on, kid, her eyes said. This could be it.

This could be it. This could be it. Audrey was always saying that to me. I felt young and gullible for ever believing that I could fit in, live without worry.

But what Audrey wanted, Audrey got.

Magdalena was waiting for us with the driver's side door propped open, resting her elbows on the roof of the car, letting the rain fall.

"Come on, then," she said. "Let's go, before the day catches us."