At first the party was extremely boring and no one wanted to include Jessica or myself in any of the festivities, so we sat back, ate pretzels and snickered deviantly to ourselves about putting the lotion in the basket.
Guess how the cold-shoulder problem was solved? Everyone began to drink, and thus the socialising problem was solved. The shy couple who were too afraid to talk to us because they didn't speak English very well finally loosened up and realise that we didn't mind broken German-English, as a matter of fact, we found it very endearing. We all talked and drank and played badminton (my new favourite sport, thanks to 7th grade and my recent drunken escapades in San Diego) and listened to Moby, and when it began to get dark, all of the Germans went and got lit on bad weed.
Jessica and I stood by and watched and warned, but they only took heed when Sebastian, a scrappy, skinny, awkward brunette child with Bert and Ernie on his shirt, took to dry-heaving in the bushes because of it. After that, countless cloves, a Bacardi Rigo, some Bahama Mama, and half a Beck's, I was officially drunk. Jessica and I went to the bathroom together and thought it was the funniest thing that a) we watched each other pee, and b) we got into whoever's lipstick was sitting on the counter, and walked out with it plainly and boldly on our faces.
Shortly after we emerged from the bathroom, it was decided that we should walk to the beach to have a bonfire. We all walked to the beach carrying towels and wood and a leaking tiki lamp which the Draco look-alike kept accidentally setting himself on fire with.
When we got to the beach, it was beautiful. Like a darker version of the scene in Contact where Jodi Foster is reunited with her dead father in Pensacola. The farthest point of the sky was blue with a gauzy deep pink veil on it from the sunset, and the surrounding houses' lights made the water appear as though it was covered in thousands of floating jewels. The sand appeared silver under the pale moon, and for me, it was all too much to resist.
"Let's go in the water," I said.
"Katie, it's freezing outside," Jessica protested. "And besides, what are we going to do, go in our clothes?"
"Underwear is like a two-piece," I offered, shrugging. And then, "We're only young once."
"They will see my ass," she said. She was wearing a thong.
"That's why we'll be in the water, hiding. Come on" I urged. "You drink, you're a madwoman! You smoke, you're a madwoman! You're 18 and you're in Germany, you're a madwoman! Now let's be madwomen and join the culture and go swimming in our underwear! We're only young once!"
"You first," she said, a faint grin appearing on her moonlit face.
So after we placed our shoes at the top of the beach near the bonfire and having decided to use our jackets as towels, we stripped of our clothing and dove into the strangely warm water. We swam out as far as we could in the darkness, and then back in, breathless and waded there, just drinking in the beautiful view.
After a bit, thoroughly exhilarated, we emerged from the water and stood by the fire to dry off. We were putting our clothes back on and exchanging possessions when I took Jessica's rings and put them on so that she wouldn't have to hold them while she got dressed. I stood up to replace my shirt and my stomach lurched as I simultaneously felt and saw one of the rings slip off of my finger, glint in the firelight, and then disappear into the sand. I froze on the spot and said, "Nobody move!"
I was then forced to recount the awful truth to Jessica. As it turns out, it was a very important ring. How could it not be? People never lose their worthless things. It was a $300 graduation gift that she and her parents had picked out together of immeasurable sentimental value. We searched the sand for over an hour and found nothing more than dirty fingers and smoke in our eyes. Four of our German comrades even pitched in to help, but it was all to no avail. The night's atmosphere had transformed in one false move from the delicate beauty of roses into the twisted nightmare of a train wreck.
The fire had been put out, I was cold, wet, shivering and ill with what I had done, accident or no; Jessica was cold, and crying and rocking back and forth in the sand; the hostess was another year older, and everyone else was either tired, or confused, or drunk. I told Jessica that I would sit in that very spot and wait until dawn the next day so that I could find it for her. She said nothing, but everyone else told me it would be pointless, and that we could mark the spot with a tree branch.
"We'll come back in the morning, ok?" Tanja said.
"It's kind of impossible," Jessica returned, sighing heavily, throat clenched with tears. "Even if we do come back, I know we won't find it." This realisation set her off crying even harder.
Tanja helped her up and put an arm around her shoulder and I couldn't look anyone in the face. They all knew what I had done. They knew that I had made my best friend cry by losing her once-in-a-lifetime-only-graduation-gift-t
I started to trace the blame: I dropped it... it was my idea to go in the water... she shouldn't have brought something that valuable here anyway (and I found out later, her parents told her the same thing)... if I would have died in March '00 like I was supposed to this never would have happened... if I was aborted, not adopted, this never would have happened.
I thought about how if my birthmother didn't want me she could have at least had the decency to kill me while I was unaware and had no idea what pain was. If I had been aborted, this bad luck wouldn't follow me around like a curse.
It was me who dropped the ring.
The Rasputina show I attended was the only one that I know of this whole tour where the girls didn't come out and mingle with the audience afterward, etc, etc.
With all of these thoughts spinning wildly about in my head, I didn't realise I was lagging behind until the Harry Potter look alike's voice drew me out and told me to walk in front of him so that he would take up the back and I wouldn't get lost on the way back. I felt so sick that I could barely walk fast enough to even catch up and be side-by-side with him, so he slowed down and walked next to me.
All was silent except for the crunching of our shoes on the leafy floor of the surrounding woods, and my laboured breathing. I didn't know whether to scream, or cry, or puke, or pass out, but my head was racing and all I could see were words like, "DIE" "MISTAKE" "IDIOT" "DIE" "MORON" "DIE"
"Please say something. Say anything. Please?" Said the Harry Potter look-alike as we approached the last stretch toward the house. "I really hate silence."
You asked for it, I thought, as every single word in my brain tumbled effortlessly out to him. His face paled and the only thing with which he was able to return it was, "Hm, well..." And I left him behind. I didn't want anyone seeing us being the last people to come back. I was afraid they'd think things like, "That fucking little slut. The bitch drops her friend's ring in the sand and then uses the tragedy as an excuse to stay behind and mack." It was a crazy thought, but I thought it all the same.
I booked it into the house and sat, speechless on a chair next to a couch on which Jessica was perched, her tears finally beginning to dry.
Jessica and I sat silent, not looking at one another for a long time. Tanja came in and saw us sitting, staring blankly at the wall in front of us, and not breathing a word, side by side. She asked us if we were ok, and in unison, we replied, "Yeah." She told us to talk to each other, and though I tried to find better words, "I'm sorry, Jessica," was all that made its way out of my mouth.
She told me it was alright, and then there was more silence. So much so that I began to doze off in the chair, until she asked me for a blanket. I gave it to her, and we both fell asleep, regardless of our positions, our wet clothes, our sick hearts, and the blaring light above our heads, while the rest of the party raged on outside.
I slept curled into a little ball in that chair, muscles aching, joints straining and screaming, "No Katie, I don't bend that way!", and a mosquito buzzing around my head all night, and a case of the sneezes. My undergarments were still wet from the midnight swim, and because of that, so were my jeans and sweater. As I lay there dirty, shivering, miserable and exhausted, I thought to myself, "This is what I deserve."
The next morning, Jessica and I woke up, sat in silence, and then walked to the beach together, and after about 20 minutes of looking, finally gave up the search. We later discovered that Tanja, Sascha, and Tina had gone to the beach at dawn and looked too for about an hour. I thanked them profusely, and then we left.
After dropping Tina off and putting bad food into our starving bodies, we came back to Tanja's, and now, being dry and clean, but still sad and exhausted, I am going to sleep. We have clubbing and drinking and forgetting to do tomorrow.
And thankfully, since we left the beach, Jessica hasn't mentioned the ring. I will make it up to her somehow.