"Finally you're here. Now we can get this party started!" Kim drags Leah through the front door of her house, thankful that her parents are away for the weekend and won't be back until late tomorrow night.
Leah looks into the living room already set up for a sleepover, with Cat and Evie already in their pyjamas and huddled under separate quilts in front of the TV. "Four of us doesn't exactly scream party, K." She smiles as Kim rolls her eyes and shuts the door, placing her bag by the door.
"We've got snacks; films; games; drinks..." Kim raises an eyebrow and smiles. "Everything we need to relax before we start our last year of high school." She plonks herself down on the floor where the sofa would usually be. "Can you believe we are nearly eighteen?"
"I know! Soon we'll be off to uni and we may not see each other for a while." Evie looks at them all wondering if this is the beginning of the last times they will ever spend together, the four of them. "This year could be the end of an era."
"Hey, don't get all weepy and mushy on us, E." Cat places an arm around her shoulders. "We will still see each other lots - I mean we will all be able to drive soon and we can visit each other all the time at uni."
"Or, we could just get into the same uni and then get a flat together - the fun times will never end." Kim shrugs likes it the easiest thing in the world to achieve.
"I might not go to uni," Leah states. "What?" She looks between the three of them not sure why they look so surprised by this. She's never exactly expressed any interest before in going.
"You're not ... you're not going to go to uni?" Cat looks at her. "Don't you want to get out of this place; have some independence?"
"Of course! But I don't know if university is for me. I don't know what I want to do with my life - who does at seventeen? So, I might just take a year out to decide on that. There's no restriction on when you can do a degree, so, why waste the money now when you could end up getting a qualification you'll never use?" She stares at her best friends as silence surrounds them. "Wow, I just killed the whole party vibe, didn't I?"
"You're right though - I have no idea what I want to do with my life either. How do you even begin to decide what career to pursue when you're still a teenager?" Cat looks down into her lap, fighting back the urge to cry.
"Music!" Kim stands and hits play on her phone for a playlist of all their favourites ready to go on her Spotify. "Come on! Let's dance." She pulls Evie to her feet and they start jamming out to Lady Gaga making Leah laugh as she watches on, not daring to join in just yet.
She shakes her head when Kim reaches out for her hand. "I need some alcohol in me before I start dancing."
"It's just us four - no one can see you." Kim spins on the spot and throws out some more moves as if she has always had a dance rehearsed just for moments like this.
Leah scans her eyes across her three best friends having the time of their lives knowing if she can't even let loose with the closest people in her life, when will she ever be able to? She stands and joins in, despite having no moves in her repertoire at all, much to the delight of Kim, Evie and Cat as they squeal and scream every time the next banger comes on.
"Okay, I definitely need a lie down now." Leah sprawls out on the floor, waiting for her heart beat to calm down.
"No, what you need, is a drink now." Kim hands her an open bottle of blue WKD - the only drink her parents would allow them to have for their party given their are still underage and because of the low alcohol content meaning there's no chance of them getting drunk - before passing one to the other girls as well. "What shall we do now? Movie? Game? Truth or dare?"
Leah snorts. "Truth or dare is so lame. Plus, you girls already know all my secrets so I have nothing new to tell." She takes a large gulp of her drink and sets the bottle down on the floor beside her. "Could watch a movie I suppose, but only if - "
"Chris Evans is in it!" The other girls chorus, laughing as Leah rolls her eyes, a small smile spreading across her face.
"See? No secrets!" Leah points out. "Anyway, Chris Evans is hotter than say, Mr. Thomas." She focusses on Kim who doesn't blink an eye.
"What? He's got some serious body hiding under those clothes, I'm telling you!" Kim takes a swig from her drink. "Plus he speaks French and Spanish, and God knows how many other languages. Guys who speak foreign languages are hot!" She fans herself, smiling as the other girl shake their heads.
"But, isn't he old, like thirty?" Cat wrinkles her nose.
"Thirty is not old! It just means he is mature and knows what he wants. He just doesn't know yet that he wants me." She winks at the three of them and turns her attention to Cat. "Anyway, I hear on the grapevine that someone fancies a certain English teacher of theirs."
Cat's smile drops. "I don't know what you mean." She looks away avoiding their eyes but soon feels their stares on her and looks back. "Anyway, at least he's actually attainable. Mr. Thomas probably has a wife and kids at home."
"Pft! Please!" Kim shakes her head. "I'd know if he was spoken for, believe me."
"Like that would stop you from going after him," Evie pipes up, raising an eyebrow. "You're always staying behind to talk to him. Do you really think I haven't noticed you are trying to wear him down?"
"You mean like you with Mr. Evans. I wouldn't be surprised if you are re-enacting that scene from Ghost before the end of the year." Kim jokes back knowing they all know which scene she means.
"If Mr. Evans wants to sit behind me and make some pottery, then he is more than welcome." Evie leans back on her hands and stretches her legs out, raising her eyebrows multiple times.
"Anyway," Leah jumps in. "Movie?" She surveys the stack beside the TV and looks through them slowly, waiting for the inevitable moment one of them mentions it.
"Wait, what about you Leah?" Cat leans forward an wraps her arms around her legs, clicking her tongue. "I don't think we know which teacher you fancy at school?"
Leah turns slowly to face them. "I don't fancy any of the teachers, because that's wrong on so many levels."
"It's okay to window shop you know - at school we can certainly look; just not touch." Kim stares at her waiting for her to crack. "Come on, Leah, this is a safe space. Plus, you said we know all your secrets, but here we are finding out something new about you."
Leah turns to face them properly not sure she wants to go through with this. She knows they will ridicule her - not that they mean it in a nasty way, because if you can't joke with your friends then who can you joke with?
"Come on, we promise we won't laugh or judge." Cat pleads, a small smile on her face telling them all otherwise.
"Yeah, come on. We've all shared and we didn't let each other off lightly either." Evie joins in, realising that wasn't exactly encouraging.
"Ignore them - just tell me who you fancy!" Kim moves closer to her, hands together in prayer.
"Why do you need to know so much?" Leah eyes Kim suspiciously. "What are you planning?"
"Nothing, I swear." Kim holds up both hands in surrender. "It's just, we should be able to talk about this stuff without getting embarrassed. We are allowed a few school girl crushes from time to time, even with people out of our league."
Leah looks between them all, deep down knowing it's a mistake, but they are the only three people she could ever tell. "Okay, fine." She sighs as they all let out an excited breath. "Mr. Walker." She is met with silence which unnerves her for a while. She expected a load of jokes thrown at her about him, but not complete silence. She can't tell if that's good or bad.
"The Maths teacher, Mr. Walker?" Cat clarifies.
Leah nods. "Come on then, what you got? Throw 'em at me!" She gestures towards herself waiting for the onslaught.
"What? Why would we have anything to say against the man? I mean if I needed fashion advice, I'd totally go to him." Evie tries and fails to keep a straight face.
"Yeah, and you know he's good with numbers so that has to come in handy every now and then. Imagine the pick up lines he must have hidden away." Cat joins in sniggering with Evie, not bothering to hide it any more.
"And you?" Leah stares at Kim, waiting for her to add fuel to the fire.
"What makes you think I have anything to say? I see nothing wrong with the guy - to be honest he almost has a Clark Kent kind of vibe going on."
Leah looks at her waiting for her to add an insult to her comment. "That's it? No jokes about him? Nothing?"
Kim shrugs. "What do you want me to say? Do you want me to insult him?"
"Well, no. I just thought -" Leah sighs. "Never mind. Forget I said anything."
"Okay..." Kim faces Cat and Evie again, her eyes lighting up. "Anyway, now they we've all shared, I'd like to admit to the main reason why I arranged this sleepover."
"You mean it's not to drown our sorrows that we go back to school on Monday after six long weeks at home with nothing to worry about." Cat lays down and closes her eyes hoping that she will wake up soon and find it is only week two of their summer holiday instead of two days until the end.
"Well, yes and no." Kim sits up straight and flicks her red hair over her shoulder, having managed to find a shade of red that was dark enough to get away with having an unconventional colour for school, but bright enough to be obvious that it was actually red. "I want this year to be special - it could be the last year we spend all together being able to meet like this, so I want to propose a little end of high school game."
Leah looks away and rolls her eyes. Trust Kim to come up with something like this. Why can't we just focus on getting decent grades and chilling out at the weekends? Why do we have to work for something else too? It's not like there is any fun in any dare type games.
"What sort of game?" Evie eyes Kim suspiciously, not sure even she likes where this is going. As the quietly confident type, she rarely objects to things, but something tells her this is something none of them are going to be that sure about.
"Don't worry - it'll be fun." Kim smiles wide. "I want to make this year memorable and now that we have all admitted to our forbidden crushes, I want to make a suggestion." She looks at each of them slowly, her smile widening. "Or a bet if you will."
Cat sits up suddenly intrigued. "I'll take that bet. What are we playing for - money, clothes swap, homework duties?" Her eyes light up on the last word.
"Only you would want to take part in a bet where there is a chance to do more homework." Evie smiles and shakes her head. "I, however, do not."
"But what if you win and don't have to do any homework?" Cat looks at her, smiling when her face changes.
"All right. I'm in." Evie nods and moves forward, crossing her legs . "Leah?"
Leah looks at them all, saving Kim until last. "I'm not agreeing to anything until, I know what I'll be agreeing to."
Kim smiles wider than ever. "Oh girls, this is going to be fun!"
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