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  • Jumeirah

Aspen - Chapter 1

Unfortunately (for the students of Aspen school, that is), it was the last day of their Year 11 summer. A summer every Year 11 in the UK wished would last forever.

Alana and Romeo stood outside a terraced house on a street in Highgate, London. Loud music and drunken laughter from the party spilt through the owner Beatrice Astorn’s wide-open front door.

Alana shook her head. “Of course, she’s forgotten to shut her front door… Again.”

“Are we even surprised at this point? She does this every party.” Romeo replied.

“She must be gone already.”

“Definitely on the rum and cokes.”

“Yep, definitely on the rum and cokes,” Romeo echoed.

The pair entered the house, Alana shutting the front door behind them. The first floor was empty for a place that should be packed full of teenagers. The two best friends stood on the empty landing, looked at each other and shrugged. The Smirnoff vodka bottle came out from inside her North Face puffer and she took a swig. Gagged at the taste.

Romeo glanced over at her. “Hey! Gimme some!”

Snatching the bottle out of her hand and downing some of the content before getting a response.

“Wha- I wasn’t finished with that!”

He smirked and handed her back the bottle.

She rolled her eyes as she took it back, turned on her heels and entered the living room to their left, leaving Romeo to trail behind her.

The living room and three white sofas were the dumping ground for the coats and bags. The owners of these belongings were on the floor beneath them without a care in the world.

Drunk. Teenagers. Don’t. Care.

Two sofas faced each other. The third is in front of a large glass window.

Romeo looked at her. “Question, why did you bring your North Face? It’s twenty-something degrees. Hottest September in five years, or whatever the weather app said this morning.”

Alana threw her coat onto the sofa before the window, “it’s for when the temperature drops later.”

“Oh, shit. Good thinking. Probably should’ve brought mine.”

Alana took another swig of vodka before she handed it to Romeo. “Ready to go downstairs?”

“Yup.” Taking a mouthful.

She’d reached the living room door when she noticed Romeo wasn’t behind her. He instead was looking down at a pile of jackets.

“Romes? What you doing?”

He threw back his head in laughter. “Come look at this.”

Curious, Alana walked over to where Romeo stood. An Indian boy was passed out under a heap of coats.

“No way.” She burst into a fit of laughter. “Is…is that…Dyl?” She got out in between laughs.

This probably wasn’t as funny as the two were making it out to be, but the alcohol had already started to hit them.

“Whoever would’ve thought?”

“Not the Dylan we knew last year, that’s for sure.”

Alana was right. This time last year, the straight-nines teacher’s pet wouldn’t have been caught within a five-meter radius of a party, let alone blackout drunk.

At the beginning of the summer, Dylan declared to the group that he wanted to start ‘living the teenage dream’, or however he put it. Although he partied over the summer, seeing him in this state was still shocking. But, at least he’d stuck to his word.

Dylan jolted upright. His sudden movement caused both of them to jump back in fright. Alana’s long black braids whipped forward as they folded over in hysterics.

“Larns?” Dylan said, blinking himself awake. “Romes! You made it!” Dylan raised an eyebrow. “Why are you guys so late?”

“We are late because he (pointing at Romeo) spent an hour admiring his blue/green eyes and fluffy blonde hair in the bathroom.”

Romeo shot her a look of annoyance.

“What? It’s true.” She replied.

Dylan grinned, amused at the pair’s usual antics. “Let’s go find Constance and Beatrice; let them know you’re here. Follow me.”

“No Kai? He not here yet?” Alana asked, following Dylan.

“Now, what do you think?”

Romeo sighed. “Course, I don’t think Kai’s be on time for anything in his life.”

Dylan stumbled down the stairs to the kitchen, Alana and Romeo behind him. Dylan out of earshot, she asked.

“So, where’s John?”

“Down south visiting his mum.”

“That’s good…means you get a break.” She hesitated before she continued, “I still think you should tell your mum about what’s happening between you, though.”

Romeo pointed to his ear, “Music’s too loud,” he shouted. “Can’t hear you!”

She narrowed her eyes. He could hear her loud and clear. She knew Romeo would avoid the conversation. He always did. Although, maybe now wasn’t the best time to bring it up.

“Larni!” Beatrice squealed, walking over to them. “Dude, when did you get here?” She asked, throwing her arms and waist-long dirty blonde hair around her.

“Couple of minutes ago. How was South of France?”

Beatrice released her from her grip. “Gooddd. And the parentals are already away on business again, hence….” Beatrice indicated to the party going on around her. “Ooh, I like your new braids. What style is that?”



Romeo butted in, “Don’t I get a hello?”

“Romie! What?! I did not see you there.”


Beatrice pulled him in for a hug.

“Where’s Stance?”

“Right here.” The answer came from behind her. Alana turned.

“Stance! I haven’t seen you in ages! How was China? Your Grandma okay?”

“Yeah, she’s fine. She just kept asking when can she go back to the house in Paris, so she could have fresh macarons.”

The group laughed, exchanged more hugs.

“Have you had anything to drin-”

Some girl and boy tapped Romeo’s shoulder, interrupting Beatrice’s question.

“Heyyy,” the girl slurred. “We think you’re really cute.”

“Thanks,” Romeo smirked.

Ah, the notorious smirks first appearance of the night - Alana thought.

“Here we go,” Beatrice remarked.

“Another night of Ro getting with half the party”, Constance whispered.

“How has he pulled already?! He just got here.” Dylan whispered back.

The same boy and girl whispered something into Romeo’s ear. He responded with a nod. She then took his hand, led him away from the group.

“Hey, where you going?!” Beatrice yelled to the back of Romeo’s head as he disappeared into the crowd.

He turned around and shrugged, “I don’t know, where ever they are taking me, I guess!”

Beatrice sighed, “Anyways, back to what I was saying, have you had anything to drink?”

“I took some shots of vodka upstairs.”

She shook her head. “Not good enough,” and she dragged Alana to the drinks table in the garden.

Constance and Dylan follow until a boy with dreads greets Dylan. They have a brief exchange before they turn around and return to the house.

“What do you want?”

“Err…can I have a vodka lemonade, please?”

“Yes, you may.”

She handed Alana the drink and she took a sip, choked.

“Bea, did you even add lemonade to this?”

Beatrice looked at her, puzzled, “yeah?”

“Then why does it-”

“Because it’s the last day of summer, Larni!” Cutting her off.

“Okay, but don’t drink too much,” Constance warned. “We’ve got school tomorrow…remember?”

“Ugh, don’t remind me.”

“Drink up then! You’ll forget all over again.” Beatrice grinned. “Still sober, Stance?”

“When have you ever known me to drink alcohol?”

“Never, I was jus- never mind. Forget I said anything.”

She’s drunk. She’s drunk - Constance reminded herself.

It was all she could think to stop herself from screaming at Beatrice. She was sure she hadn’t said it to make her feel bad. The group accepted that Constance wasn’t into drinking or partying, for that matter. But there were instances like this that made her question whether her friends resented her for not wanting to join in. But Constance knew this was all in her head…or was it? No. No, it was. It was all in her head.

"Turn it up!” Someone yelled from inside the house. Earthquake by Labrinth ft Tinie Tempah blasted through the speakers in the kitchen. Cheers went up with the volume increase.

“I love this song!” Alana shrieked. Beatrice’s mostly vodka lemonade, and the swigs she’d taken earlier now definitely kicking in.

Alana grabbed her two best friends by the hand, dragging them towards the sliding glass kitchen doors.

“Umm…I don’t think so,” Constance said as she tried to pull out of Alana’s tight grasp.

“Oh, shut up, Stance. We know you love dancing to this song.”

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