Big fish, little fish, cardboard box flashed through Chloe's mind each time she looked at the corner of cardboard box she could see under her bed. It was a full second before the worry started, and the box started to grow until it took half the room. Then Chloe had to press against the wall to get to her drawers. She quickly gathered knickers, tights, t-shirt and jeans. It wasn't the right outfit but she wanted to get out of the room as quickly as possible. She changed in the bathroom, she put her pyjamas in the laundry although she had only worn them once. She needed make up. She creeped along the wall again, grabbed the basics from her dressing table and returned to the bathroom.
"Come on, are you going to be in there all day?"
She knew what she needed to do. Talk to Brad. Simple as that. At the party she would first talk to Lizzie, she always talked to Lizzie first. While she was talking to Lizzie she would be looking for Brad. She would start by smiling at him, and he would notice. Of course he would notice. He wouldn’t come over but he would notice. She would happen to pass by, on her way to the toilet, or the snacks table. Or a drink, probably a drink. A glass of wine was definitely the thing. Only one glass, mind. She didn’t want things to get away from her like they did at Liam’s party. She didn’t remember much from that party, they had shared a wine box before the party. She remembered walking into Liam’s, a long corridor that lead to the kitchen. She had missed the door the the front room and the stairs. That was about all she remembered, that and, of course, the photos, snapchat, twitter, those websites for freaks. It was a long time ago now, but still she wondered what a person was looking at when they took their phone out. And everyone always had their phones out.
She was getting distracted, all she needed to concentrate on was passing Brad on her way to the snacks table. She would say something clever to him. No, she would say something sporty to him. She knew how his team was doing, they had won last week. She would say she saw they had won. No, she would be a little more caution, she would say she had heard he supported them. Yes, that way he would start the conversation and all she needed to do was say yes, yes, yes. Lizzie had said all that boys wanted was to hear themselves speak. And a smile, they would do anything for a smile.
She went back into her room. The cardboard box had shrunk. She could hardly even hear it calling to her from its hiding place. She could just leave it there, in the cardboard box under the bed. She didn’t need to sort it out. She would go to the party and it would be fine. She would sort it out when she got home, if necessary. That is, if it didn’t sort her out.
The thing was, the nearer she got to the party, the more it filled her mind her mind until it was as large as the cardboard box had ever loomed in her room.
The thing was, the nearer she got to the party, the more it filled her mind. When she stepped in the party she couldn’t think of anything but it. She hardly danced, she barely talked to anyone and she left as soon as it was respectable to leave the party. Too early, probably, her friends would notice her absence, Lizzie would notice, which was bad because she wouldn't be able to explain. They would think bad things about her but she couldn't tell them she was drawn back to it.
"You're home early, you not feeling well?"
"Just going to lie down for a minute."
Chloe stepped into her room, closed the door and leaned against it. The cardboard box had grown, it loomed. The room was not dark enough. She edged along the wall to close the curtains. Better, although she couldn't see the cardboard box, she could feel its presence. She slipped round the room again to her bed. Her jeans clung to her as she forced them off. She breathed heavily, it did not need to be this hard, surely. It was not bad, if she wanted she could simply put the cardboard box and its contents in the bin. No big loss. It wasn't bad, or evil, or vile. Everyone has one, is what Lizzie said, but Lizzie didn't even show her a cardboard box let alone her one. Then she had denied having one when Lizzie asked, she didn’t like lying to Lizzie. Anyway, she hadn't decided to take it out the box.
She lay back on the bed, trying not to reach out. Pretending that she wouldn’t reach out. Knowing that she would. It was just a matter of time, so she decided to savour it. She reached down under the bed, pulled the cardboard box to the edge, slipped off the lid and reached inside. It felt so good in her hand, soft to touch yet firm. It fitted so well in her hand. It fitted so well.
She hesitated, suddenly deflated. The cardboard box that so often dominated the room shrunk to a shoebox, the vibrator in her hand was suddenly lifeless. She had turned down the opportunity to chat to people, she had turned down a chance at reaching out and touching a real person, a chance for a real person to wrap her in their attention. She had walked, no snuck, away from that for this, alone in her bed with her sex toy. She sighed to herself, if only boys weren’t so hard to talk to. If only she didn’t worry about making a fool of herself. The girls were nice, she could chat to Lizzie. She had chatted to Lizzie. She had joined the group with her, she had stayed when they all started dancing but she hadn’t said another word. Not to Lizzie. Not to the group, neither the girls nor the boys. Not to Brad.
It was just so hard. Especially when they were all drinking and she was not. So she had slunk away.
She rested the vibrator between her legs, she switched it on. It may be a little sad, but it is better than slinking off to eat icecream and watch romcoms.
She leaned back her head, closed her eyes. She imagined a conversation with Brad, She was going to come twice tonight.