What Are We Celebrating?

Commissioned by Amy Finley, written from the prompt, “besties, college, bourbon.”

Savannah has come to a decision: from now on, she is only attending upperclassmen parties. At the parties in the dorms, people actually drink the ‘punch’ made by the lacrosse team in four gallon trash bags, smelling like cherry NyQuil and pine tress. When she walked in the door of Becky-from-calculus-class’s off-campus apartment, she was offered bourbon. In a real glass.

As for the bourbon, Savannah hasn’t decided if she actually likes it or not. That’s not stopping her from drinking it, though.

She’s still not sure how she actually managed to get an invite to Becky-from-calculus-class’s post-midterm party. Standing in the corner of the small living room with her Real Glass of Bourbon, she feels distinctly out of place. She can’t even see Becky, who she only knows from calculus and even then, just barely. Their professor had been late once, and Savannah had been subjected to Becky’s rant about how calculus has nothing to do with chemistry, and if she fails it again she won’t graduate in May. Savannah hadn’t contributed anything to the conversation, but Becky somehow decided they were friends. Friends enough to invite her to this party to celebrate Becky maybe passing her midterm. They haven’t gotten the grades back or anything, but Becky is clearly optimistic.

Savannah makes herself drink slow. If she hasn’t seen Becky, before finishing her Real Glass of Bourbon, she’ll just leave early. She’s a little sad about it honestly, because Becky had said there would be grilling and Savannah can see tomatoes and a head of romaine lettuce on the counter. Parties at the dorms never have food, let alone food with fresh vegetables.

She’s one sip away from leaving when Becky emerges from a hallway that Savannah assumes leads to bedrooms, dressed far more provocatively than this party calls for. She’s wearing a too tight dress and heels she can’t walk in while everyone else in the room is in jeans and comfortable shoes. No one seems to find Becky’s clothes weird, though, so maybe that’s just Becky.

Savannah starts to take her last drink when Becky sees her. For a moment, Savannah actually thinks of running out the door. Something about Becky’s intensity really freaks her out.

“Oh my God, Savannah!” she says, rushing across the room. “You came!”

Savannah always forgets how shrill Becky’s voice is until she starts speaking.

Becky pulls her into a hug and lets her go before Savannah can make her limbs do anything. “Of course I came,” Savannah says, aiming to be polite. She is drinking Becky’s alcohol, after all. Illegally. “We had to celebrate midterms, right?”

“You should definitely be celebrating!” Becky says, almost yelling even though it’s not loud in the apartment. “You are the smartest freshmen I’ve ever met!”

Savannah isn’t sure if that says something good about her, or something awful about the rest of the freshmen class. “I just like math,” she says.

Becky doesn’t seem to register Savannah’s reply. She’s looking over the rest of the crowd, pushing up onto her tiptoes even though her heels make her plenty tall. When she finally finds what she’s looking for she smiles and grabs Savannah’s arm, pulling her behind her.

“You have to meet Nicole,” Becky says, teetering forward in her heels. “She’s a freshmen in my art class. Can you believe they’re making me take art? What does that even have to do with chemistry? They’ve already failed me in it once, which is stupid. How do you fail art?”

Savannah wonders how Becky is capable of doing chemistry effectively when she appears to fail every other class she takes.

Becky deposits Savannah in front of a girl sitting on the arm of a couch, holding her own Real Glass of Bourbon. She looks Becky up and down with the same confusion that Savannah had earlier. At least she’s not the only who thinks Becky’s get-up is weird.

“Savannah, Nicole, Nicole, Savannah,” Becky says, motioning between the two of them. “You two should be besties.”

She smiles, looking oddly sincere. She then wobbles off towards the kitchen, almost twisting her ankle. 

“Do you think she’s actually a chemistry major?” Nicole asks, “because I really don’t  understand how she’s supposed to graduate in May, as a chemistry major, when she’s had to re-take her fine arts requirement.”

“She’s not graduating in May,” Savannah says. “I sit next to her in calculus. There’s no way she passed the midterm.”

Nicole laughs, the tail-end turning in to a snort that she tries to muffle by covering her face with her hand. “What are we even celebrating?”

Years later, Savannah and Nicole look Becky up on Facebook, sitting in a bar drinking bourbon. Her profile says that she went to college, but makes no mention of graduating.

“Poor Becky,” Nicole says. “Guess she never got through calculus.”

“Or art class,” Savannah adds.

When Nicole laughs this time, she doesn’t bother trying to muffle the snort.  “To Becky re-taking her classes,” she says, raising her glass. “If she wasn’t so determined, we never would have met.”

Savannah clinks her glass against Nicole’s. “What a tragedy that would have been,” she says. “Who else would have agreed to be my maid of honor?”

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