“What the hell are you wearing?” James’s voice echoed in the empty apartment, seeming to gain support from the entire condo. Lakshmi rolled her eyes.
“It’s a theme party. I’m dressed up as-” she was cut off abruptly.
“You’re dressed up as another frigid winter of sexlessness. Now go wash your face, and put on the nice, human girl costume that I know you have somewhere. You know, pretend to be human? I know you can do it. I believe in you. And hurry up: the guys are here but I told them to take the stairs. You’ve got about 10 minutes before they make it up here,” James laughed, making his way over to the laptop to change the music. “You’ll thank me after you’re re-dressed,” he called into the hallway, hearing a muffled string of nonsense coming from Lakshmi’s general direction.
“So, its you and me, plus the girls, and Vishnu’s coming. You said he’s bringing his roommate? What’s he like? Is he cute? Single? Gay? Bi? Flirty when drunk?” he called out, putting on some Beyonce. Lakshmi stumbled out of her room, now looking more human and alluring in a Morticia Adams styled black lace dress.
“He’s an ass, or he sounds like one. I’ve never met him,” she added, stopping before he could comment on her transformation “At least the bloodstains on my mouth helped the red lipstick… you can’t see it on my chin anymore, can you? Shit, shit, he’s here. Act boring so I look good,” she whispered, hearing voices in the hall.
“Boring or bored? One requires no acting. Straight people…” James muttered as Vishnu opened the door.
After obligatory hand shaking and name repeating, in triplicate, they settled down in the living room with some drinks. Vishnu wandered over to the laptop and put on some Kanye while James stared at Taylor conspicuously. Lakshmi nudged him, but he only leaned in to look more intensely.
“I know you from somewhere. Do you do yoga at Prisma downtown?” James asked.
“Yes, I do! Every day at lunch, and twice a day on weekends when I can! Do you normally wear neon blue leggings?” While Taylor and James bonded over their mutual love of the smoothies at their yoga studio, Naomi arrived home from work. She waved hi, rushed into her room to change, and Lakshmi downed her drink melodramatically before walking up to the Sex God.
“So, good day at work?” she started, offering one of Grace’s mini calzones.
“Can’t complain, how about you, Mrs. Adams? I didn’t think that you were serious about the costumes,” Vishnu said, looking her up and down. ‘Why had they never hooked up?’ he thought to himself. Naomi, his ex-girlfriend of not that long ago walked back into the room, wearing a cheerleader costume and covered in fake blood. Even half dead, she looked drop dead gorgeous.
“That’s why,” he said out loud accidentally. Luckily, Lakshmi just smiled and giggled. What was she talking about? Was she talking? Damn, was this calzone ever good.
“Let’s play a game!” Vishnu called out, breaking his own awkward train of thought. “It’s an anti-Valentine’s party so how about an anti-love game? Cards Against Humanity; the least romantic thing wins”.
“I’ll grab the shots,” Lakshmi called out, running to the kitchen to hyperventilate in private. Naomi followed her in and looked at her with concern.
“You know, he isn’t worth all this trouble. I mean, yeah he’s a great boyfriend, but you don’t need to be…. Lakshmi? Are you ok?” Naomi made sure that, between her gasps into an LCBO bag, she was ok. She brought the jello shots into the living room and they started playing. Lakshmi came in and picked up the hand they had dealt her, smiling as if nothing had happened.
“So, how was everyone’s day?” James asked, dealing a devastating blow with his answer to What does the fox say? (Teenage pregnancy; absolutely not romantic, Juno be damned).
“Oh, ask Vishnu, he sent me the funniest text today about some model wiping out and breaking her leg!” Taylor gushed, practically pissing himself with giddy laughter. Everyone else in the room exchanged a look. “What? C’mon, don’t be like that; none of you guys are models. Wait, are you?” He asked, looking around at their very attractive faces, concerned that he had crossed the line of appropriate first meeting conversation.
“No, it’s just that…” Lakshmi started. She didn’t need to continue because the door swung open at that moment, and Kali hopped into the room on crutches, with Grace following behind her. She was following because Kali was wearing a red gown with a long, flowing train. You couldn’t even see her cast under the layers of billowing fabric gathered around her feet. How she managed not to trip was anyone’s guess.
“Hey guys! Are we the last ones here?” Kali hobbled over to Lakshmi, who took her crutches and gave up her seat so she could sprawl on the big chair. The entire room watched as Taylor connected the dots, and then watched his alabaster face flush as he realized what he’d said.
“So, are they letting you keep the dress?” James asked, mercifully letting Taylor sit in shameful silence. “I thought you said it was a theme shoot? At the aquarium?” James pawed at the tulle sarcastically.
“It was! I was a mermaid, and they had all these poufy gowns and they covered my cast so it all worked out. And they let me pick one, so I chose this one. Only kinda because I ripped it a little when I tried to take it off, and I didn’t want them to find out, but also because it’s gorgeous! I hope it’ll fit in The Closet,” Kali responded, holding both her head and a pink plastic cup of lemon-lime pop high. “I only had like 3 hours of sleep last night, and I’m tripping on T3s, so I think we can all cut me some slack. Oooh, mini calzones!” She put three in her mouth at the same time and struggled to chew all of them simultaneously. Lakshmi took the opportunity to draw attention away from her friend’s mouth.
“Can I just propose a toast? Now that we’re all here, and finally in the same place, I just want to say how happy I am that, even though we’re all alone this Valentine’s, we have each other. I mean, I know I’ve just met you Taylor, but I definitely feel like I know you. So cheers, to loneliness and a weird hangover tomorrow from candy hearts and cheap vodka!” Lakshmi clinked her plastic shot glass against everyone else’s and downed her first (of many) shots of Blue, her jiggly drink of choice. She had decided, after the day she had endured, that flats were the only sane option, so she didn’t trip when she heard a scream from the kitchen a few minutes later. She rushed to see what was wrong.
“Why would you put…. it’s Valentine’s Day! What is… I don’t think I like your theme parties…” Taylor was stammering in the direction of the counter top, on which rested a bowl of candy with a fake severed hand that moved if you tried to take any candy. “This is not cool, seriously. This is totally going in my blog.” He stormed back into the living room, angrily opened a heart shaped chocolate, and left Lakshmi alone with Vishnu. He had run over when he heard his roommate’s trademark shriek. She met his eyes for a moment, arching an eyebrow.
“Taylor is… a good guy. He really is,” Vishnu said, in answer to her unspoken question. It would have been convincing if Lakshmi were paying attention. He had put his hands on her shoulders to face her towards him as he explained how great it was living with him, and how his quirks were annoying but he was really cool most of the time. Her heartbeat quickened just a little bit, realizing how much like her dreams this all was. She came back to earth just in time to hear Grace laugh in the living room, letting her know that she was approaching the sweet spot in her drunkenness and the party was about to get started. She looked up at Vishnu, who was smiling.
“You know, you have really pretty eyes. I don’t know why I never noticed them before. Maybe its all the pink light bulbs but they really … I don’t know why I never noticed them before,” he smiled at her, with his stupid beautiful eyes beaming down at her from more than a foot above. Stupid, beautiful, Canadian Sex God.
“Thanks. I….think Grace is almost drunk now. We should get in there before…” she sputtered out non-sequiturially.
“Right. Drunk Grace. I don’t think the police could see if she took off her clothes and ran around on your balcony, but your neighbours might so I better … and she’s on the balcony. I’ll be right back,” Vishnu laughed as he ran after their friend.
“Right. I’ll be… here,” Lakshmi muttered to herself, reaching for another shot of Blue and looking at her reflection in the mirror by the doorway. “Waiting.”