Really Tall

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Good Things Fall Apart (Stripped) - Illenium

Benji

Trevor's party was in full swing already when Hannah and I pulled up. She flipped down her visor to check on her lipstick while I scanned the lawn for cars I recognized. "Ready?" she asked, turning towards me. The tiny overhead light reflected off her tinier sequined top and I squinted into the disco ball effect, nodding. Inside the house, I spotted Simon quickly. Taking Hannah's hand, I Beelined for him and we exchanged a slap on the back. "My man!" he shouted, his red-rimmed eyes shining with excitement. He shoved a red solo cup of beer into my hand and wiggled his fingers in greeting at Hannah, "m'lady," he bowed deeply, swaying a little as he stood up, "may I get you a beverage?" Hannah giggled.

Earlier, while I waited on her to finish getting ready at her house, she had held one pink fingernail up to her lip and pulled a handful of mini fireball shooters out of her purse. I had declined, knowing I still had to get us here, but that hadn't stopped her from pregaming and now, standing in Trevor's parents' sprawling white kitchen, she was already beginning to go weak in the ankles, her high heels wobbling.

"Beer," she shouted to Simon over the music. He bowed sloppily again and went to go grab her one. Hannah turned to me and trailed a finger down the front of my shirt, "can we go dance, Benji," she blinked her fake eyelashes and turned my name sing-songy. Quickly knocking back the rest of the beer in my hand as Simon arrived with one in each of his hands, I took both beers from him, handed one to Hannah and gave Simon a salute and she pulled me into the middle of the pulsating crowd.

A Post Malone song was playing. Everyone was singing in a way that sounded much more like yelling. People kept handing Hannah shots. I took one that she thrust into my hand, then passed the glass on to someone else, hoping no more made it my way. Hannah was ordinarily a really sweet person, but drinking made her trashy. Her dancing was quickly devolving to grinding and her sparkly outfit kept scratching my arms.

I was sleepy-drunk and just beginning to dissociate a little when I looked up just in time to see Jorge being led through the crowd by a girl I recognized from one of my classes freshman year. She was yelling something at him around a cigarette clamped between her lips. He looked around warily before his eyes finally landed on me. "Hannah," I said urgently, grabbing her shoulder, "go dance with your friends, I'm gonna go do a lap." She smiled at me and puckered her lips for a goodbye kiss but I moved away before she could lean in. I shouted his name and waved an arm over my head. "I am so glad you're here, Jey," I told him when we were close enough for him to hear me. He gave me a tight-lipped smile.

"Let's party!" I called to the people around me. A cheer rose up, but I watched Jey's eyes darken a little. "It's a lot, I know," I leaned in close so he could hear me better, "are you overwhelmed?" I could feel his exhale against my cheek as I turned my head to better hear his words and then felt a tickle as his nod made his curly bangs brush against my face. A chill ran down my spine, but I brushed it off. "Let's go downstairs," i told him.
"Aspen is coming, too," he replied, matter-of-factly and featured to the girl he had come in with. She raised her cup to me in hello and I led the two of them to the basement door. Pausing with my hand on the knob, I scanned the dancers for Hannah. She was leaning against the wall now, talking to a group of people. She wasn't the clingy type at parties. Wanted her space to mingle. So I led Jey and Aspen down the carpeted stairs.

The basement was much more manageable. A group of guys stood around a ping pong table bouncing balls into cups and another group were playing video games on the couch. Out the sliding glass doors into the backyard, I could see some people passing around a joint lazily. I glanced over at Jey. He looked much more relaxed now. "Do you want to play beer pong?" I asked him. His eyes moved to the game. "I have never played that before," he admitted, biting at the skin at the corner of his thumbnail.
"I'll teach you!" I told him and we moved in to take over as the other game ended. I pointed across the table, "our goal is to bounce the ping pong ball into one of their cups. They're allowed to try and blow it out or 'finger it' out with two fingers before it hits the beer. But if they can't get it out, they have to drink what's in the cup then remove it."

"Two re-racks," Aspen called across the table, "and loser takes 3 shots." She had pulled TJ out from where he had been smoking on the porch. He was wearing his signature black hoodie and raised his chin at me both in greeting and in challenge. "Do you want to go first?" I asked Jey, turning to look at him. His dark eyes were fixed on the opposing team's cups, "I will watch you first," he decided, then turned back to face Aspen, "we have to win." His voice sounded so serious I had to laugh, "competitive are we?" He just set his jaw even harder and nodded once, tightly. "Okay, then," I said, "Let's win."

The first couple bounces were awful. All of us were bad. On our third turn without anyone making one in, Jey grabbed the ball out of my hand. "I'm ready," he said and squared up to the table. We all watched as one perfect bounce landed perfectly in their front cup. Straight in the beer, no opportunity to get it out. A small roar of cheers rose up from the onlookers around us. Even Aspen whooped. I threw my arm around Jey and hugged him to me, "awesome, dude! I didn't know you were some kind of beer pong prodigy!" His face was split in the biggest smile I've ever seen and his neck and cheeks were a blush pink. I stepped back from him, feeling my own face burn a little. "Let's keep going," he said, clearing his throat.

We finished the game, everyone falling into a rhythm. When Aspen landed her first ball, I reached for the cup to drink it but she slammed her hand on the table, "THAT one," she said smiling sweetly at Jey, "is for him." He hadn't had anything to drink all night. "Jey, it's cool. I got this," I told him. I could feel my words starting to trail together even as I said this. I had lost count of how much I'd had to drink. "I will drink it," Jey grabbed it with determination and threw back the beer before any of us knew what was happening. As he lowered the cup, I realized I was smiling goofily at him. He smiled back, a trace of beer foam stuck to his deep Cupid's bow. I reached over without thinking and wiped it off with my thumb. His eyes were suddenly serious and I had to look away.

We returned to the game and 10 minutes later, we lost. As TJ poured out shots of peach Burnett's for us, Aspen shoved two over to Jey and handed me one. She had another cigarette between her lips now and it bobbed as she said, "for you," with a wink. I had just lifted the shot glass to my lips when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning around, I found Wyatt and started to raise my hand in a high five. I hadn't realized he was there. It took me a second, but I realized his face was sober and there was a flash of sadness in his eyes. "Can you come with me for a second, Benji," he asked quietly, but clapped his hand on my shoulder to steer me upstairs anyway.

We climbed all the way up to the third floor, where he led me down a long ball and gently pushed open a bedroom door. "I was just looking for the bathroom, but..." he trailed off and raised one shoulder in a kind of little shrug. I peeked around the doorframe and my heart dropped to my toes. I could see a familiar cascade of blonde hair, swishing over Hannah's bare back. Her sequined top was down around her waist now as she pressed up against some guy I had never seen before. He was tall. Really tall. And had blonde hair nearly the same colors as Hannah. He kissed her sloppily. I felt her name slide from between my lips as I processed what I was looking at, "Hannah?" She whipped her head around to look at me, her blue eyes dark and her lips red and puffy.

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Okay this part is longer than the others and I've spent several days working on it now, but I wanted a little benjey spark and also needed Hannah GONE! Anyway, hope you liked it and thanks for reading my silly lil story 🥰

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