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#171: Wept

#171: Wept
Odd Spot - The Age - 08/08/2022

It was bound to happen. Two teenagers ending up at the same party.

Welcome to small town life.

Matilda stood in the doorway. Rory sat by the large fire pit, warming his hands. He looked decidedly drunk, with his face drooping as if he’d just woken up.

She watched him for a long time. His eyes kept looking at someone also standing around the fire, but she couldn’t tell who. There were a lot of kids Rory’s age clustered around the glow. Their faces danced in the firelight.

One of Matilda’s friends emerged from the garage with two slabs of beer and the youngins ripped at the boxes like feral animals. Someone handed Rory a beer, and he clumsily twisted off the cap.

Matilda slipped back inside to her friends. The music was louder, and it was darker, almost as a way of compensating for not being outside.

At some point, someone whispered in her ear that Rory had stumbled off.

She found him down the street, leaning on a car. He was crying.

Matilda pulled him upright and saw a large bruise that would ripen into a huge black-eye in the few days’ time.

She could see his eyes attempting to focus on her.

She wanted to know what happened. He dabbed the side of his own face, felt the tenderness of the wound, winced in pain, and then wept.

Matilda knew what they said about him. They said it to him. Someone, tonight, punched him because of it.