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The Party House at the End of the Block || Emily Hessney Lynch

by Emily Hessney Lynch


Lights strobe and the house shakes. The party house at the end of the block is at it again. Across the street in my own home, I peek through the blinds and watch. I wouldn’t mind the weeknight parties if they at least had better music. In my living room, I turn up the volume and groove to Robyn. It feels good to move.


Outside the boys are dragging a mahogany table into the front yard, dropping it unceremoniously on the brown grass. We all know what happens next. The red cups appear, filling with beer, and ping pong balls soar through the air. I open a book and pour myself a glass of whisky. I could flip through my vinyl collection and turn on my record player if I really wanted to draw your attention to this juxtaposition even more, but I won’t.


The rusted red truck in their driveway rumbles to life, solely to serve as boombox. It shakes and shudders with fumes sputtering from the tailpipe; a bunny runs for shelter in a nearby bush.


Girls pile out of a beige Honda Civic and twirl their hair as they get in line for beer pong. My doorbell rings. I assume it’s Linda from next door wanting to gossip about our party-prone neighbors, but it’s the deliveryman with my pumpkin curry. I tip 20%.


Someone arrives at the party house with pizza and wings; the boys sit on the front stoop and gnaw the chicken wings like hungry dogs. The girls look on in silence, sipping their mango hard seltzers.


“Don’t you want some pizza, Nina?” one of the bros calls to a freckle-faced brunette.


“It’s not gluten free,” she says and makes a disgusted face.


I transfer my curry into a tureen and set it gently on the kitchen table.


Thunk.

Thunk.

Thunk.


They are playing corn hole now. The boards are in the middle of the road and the beanbags land loudly each time. The boys are drunk and missing the hole over and over. They laugh and slap one another’s backs. I spear a chunk of pumpkin with my fork, slide it onto my tongue, and savor it.


The crowd is getting larger, probably twenty of them now. The music has improved and for that I am grateful. I consider starting a movie and reject the idea. The clock reads 9:12pm.


I push my chair back from the table, take a shot of whisky, and march my 34 year old ass across the street.


~


At first they don’t notice me, but eventually the guys are elbowing each other and arguing over who should welcome me to their sick party.


“Hey,” I say before they get it together.


“Hi. You live across the street,” a generic blond boy states obviously.


“That’s me. Maizey.”


“Thanks for stopping by, Maizey! I’m Phil.”


Tense grins are exchanged. He waits for me to yell at him. Corn hole and beer pong are in full swing, balls and bags flying haphazardly through the air. Phil presses a Solo cup into my hand and it sloshes with an unknown concoction.


“Make yourself at home!” he shouts over the thumping bass.


I sip the orange drink and suspect it’s Tang and vodka. I tilt my head back and chug. What could go wrong?


Over on the front steps I spy Gluten Free Nina. I make my way over and sit down next to her.


“Who are you?” she asks, bored and puffing from her vape pen.


“Neighbor from across the street.”


“What are you doing here then?”


“Thought it might be more entertaining than Netflix.” I kick my toes against the iron porch railing.


“Is it?”


“No, you guys are pretty boring.”


She puffs again.


“So go home.”


I stare into her hazel eyes, drink in the swell of her cleavage from under her lime green tank top, run my eyes down the smoothness of her thighs. It’s summer and she’s sweaty and luscious. She watches me watching her.


“No,” I say.


“No one invited you. Go home.”


“Make me,” I tell her.


She lunges for me, pressing our bodies together fiercely. My back’s against the porch railing and her tongue is in my throat. The world is dark, the music vibrates through my chest, I can’t see. I come up hot and gasping.


“Entertaining enough yet?” Nina asks.


“Yes.” I’m hungry and wanting. “So about that going home thing…” I trail off with a smile, my palm on her thigh, hoping she’ll take the hint and something good will come of this evening.


“Ew! Are you hitting on me?”


“You just kissed me!”


“I was messing with you,” she mutters. “Eric!” she clatters to her feet abruptly. “Your creepy neighbor is hitting on me!”


“Ew! Babe!” he yells back from the beer pong table. “Want me to punch her?”


I’m sputtering like the dilapidated truck engine now. “Jesus Christ! You initiated that! I’m not imagining things.”


“Get out,” Nina spits.


I creakily rise and retreat. Behind me, I hear loud whispers.


“Was she a good kisser?”


“That looked fun!”


“Why didn’t you go with her?”


“Who knew the lonely old lady was so horny!”


I deadbolt the front door behind me and head up to bed. That’s the last time I try to play the part of the magnanimous neighbor who’s down to hang with the party house kids. Maybe next time I’ll play the role of the cranky neighbor who calls the cops. These days I’m not sure where I’m supposed to fit but nothing feels quite right.


The kiss lingers on my lips. I try to ignore the continual thump of the party’s music and block out the memory of Nina’s tongue, her thighs, her softness, remembering only the heat and that rush of wanting. It’s enough to keep me warm on this cool night.



Image Credit: iStock



***


EMILY HESSNEY LYNCH (she/her) is a short story and memoir writer. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Spellbinder Magazine, Gastropoda Lit, Pastel Pastoral, Sledgehammer Lit, Lilac Magazine, The Plentitudes, and others. She lives in Rochester, NY with her husband and their three rescue dogs. You can follow her on Instagram at @EHL_writes or visit her website: www.ehlwrites.com.

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