“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Gabe! It’s just a little blood.” Mila shook her head as she popped another piece of popcorn in her mouth.
“You know I hate this shit.” Gabe’s voice came out mumbled thanks to his hands covering his face.
“Will you two stop bickering?” I took another sip of wine.
“Why do we let Mila pick the movies? It’s always this gory shit.” Zoey asked while scrolling through her phone.
“We all get our choices. It’s how it’s always been.” I said as I grimaced at a particularly bloody part.
A collective sigh resonated through the living room. I held back a laugh. For the past ten years, we’d gathered once a month to watch a movie. Our collective started back when we were working at the local video store while in high school. We couldn’t be more different if tried.
Mila Sandoval, the horror fiend, went to Catholic school and fell in love with blood and guts when she read the bible. I never made that connection but then again, I’d never read the bible. Mila was now a kindergarten teacher.
Piper Olson was the romantic of the group. She went to the inner-city school and grew up in the trailer park outside of the city. I didn’t know much about her home life but the police were called more than once to their house. I think her love of romance has been the dream she’d always wanted. Piper currently worked as web developer on a dating site she refused to use.
Dylan Newman was the history buff and quietest of the group. In high school, he was tutored by scholars from all around the world. The only child of a high-powered financial magnate gave him a level of privilege that none of the rest of us understood. His bit of rebellion in high school was working at the movie store. He currently worked as a museum curator in New York’s Natural History Museum. His love of history and unrequited crush on Piper has been a constant in our group.
Gabriel Cooper loved everything action. Did it blow up? Have car chases that ended in explosions? An alien race that blew up a planet? Then Gabe was all for it. He went to the prestigious fine arts high school. His singing and dancing skills were phenomenal. That’s why he was a successful playwright and musical theatre genius.
Zoey Allison was our resident science fiction nerd. Her love of anything space or paranormal related manifested in her acting like an excitable puppy. Zoey was the only one in our group who I’d gone to high school with at the suburban high school. We ran in such different circles we didn’t even realize we went to school together before working at 9th Street. When we all went out to the bar on trivia night, she was our secret weapon. Her ability to recall obscure facts was an asset we used on more than one occasion to get ourselves free drinks. Now, she was busting her ass as a waitress by day and a pediatric resident by night.
Lastly, I have always been the drama geek. In high school, I was involved in every play our school put on. I can’t act worth a damn but I know where to put a spotlight and how to run lines with the players. I was the only one of us who didn’t have a foreseeable career. I was getting my master’s degree and a possible job opportunity but was busy second guessing every step I was taking.
“I propose we veto Mila’s choices. I can’t have this stress. My job is stressful enough.” Gabe said.
“Ok Mr. Hot Shot playwright.” Mila stuck her tongue out at him then grinned. “How bout we make a bet?”
Gabe pursed his lips. “What kind of bet?”
“You create a gory horror musical about John Wayne Gacey and I will forfeit my horror selection.”
“Too specific.” Gabe shook his head.
“Fine any gory horror musical about any serial killer then.”
“Alright. So, what happens if I lose?”
“I get your picks.”
The group of us held our breath. Dealing with Mila’s gore filled picks was ok once every six months. Dealing with it every three months was a different thing all together. A scream came from the television cutting through the tension.
“Fine.” Gabe said.
“Awesome. You have to have it up and running before my next turn.” Mila munched on a handful of popcorn.
“You’re on. I already have the idea shaping in my head.”
“This is not going to be good for any of us.” Zoey whispered to me.
“Nope. We’re the poor suckers who have to deal with their twisted love/hate relationship.”
Zoey snorted while drinking her red wine. She began choking and I smacked her on her back.
“Don’t die. You’re the only one here that knows all my secrets.” I whispered to her but then said, “On second thought maybe it’s best if we say goodbye. Nobody will ever know my secrets then.”
Zoe smacked me as she finally dislodged the popcorn kernel that had been spot welded onto her uvula. She took a few deep breaths then grabbed my wine and downed every drop.
“Thanks pal.” She handed me back the glass of wine.
“Now, how am I getting through this?”
“I’ll bring the bottle over.” Piper left her seat and escaped to the kitchen.
After Piper brought the wine back, Zoey, Piper and I continued to talk through the movie. Mila threw popcorn at us while Gabe was typing furiously on his phone. Finally, the movie came to it’s gory conclusion.
“All of you suck. None of you watched it.” Mila huffed.
“I did.” Dylan said quietly.
“Thanks, Dyl. You know maybe we shouldn’t do these anymore. Maybe we’re getting to old for these nights.”
“What?” I screeched.
“Come on, Sky. We’re all busy with work and it’s tough to find a day to get together.” Mila sighed.
I felt my heart slowly breaking. Our movie nights were the one night a month that I looked forward to. I didn’t have anything else. My eyes began to fill with tears and I looked away from everyone.
“It was just a suggestion. We don’t have to make a decision this month. Next month Piper’s up. I’m sure it will be nauseatingly romantic.” Mila teased.
Piper blushed. “We’ll see. Maybe I will pick something totally different.”
“Uh huh.” Gabe and Mila said together.
“I gotta get going. I’m going to visit my mom tomorrow.” Zoey stood.
“I should go too.” Dylan stood then looked at me. “Will I see you Monday?”
Everyone’s eyes shot to me. Fuck Dylan and his big mouth. I smiled. “We can grab lunch after my interview.”
“Interview? Why is this the first we are hearing about this? How does Dylan know and we don’t?” The questions shot at me from all directions.
I held up my hand. “First, I am need of an internship for my master’s degree. Dylan pulled some strings to get me an interview. And like you said Mila, everyone is busy with their own lives now. I’m the only one that is still aimless. I’m hoping with this I’ll finally have a path forward.”
The silence in the room was heavy. Gabe was the first to come over and give me a hug. The rest of them joined in with a huge group hug.
“I think I can say for all of us that we know you got this. We’re proud of you no matter what you do, Skylar.” Gabe kissed my forehead.
“Aww…you guys are being disgustingly supportive.”
We all laughed then one by one we left Mila’s apartment. I was the only one still taking the subway, so I placed my headphones on and drowned out the loneliness that I felt.