Happy Place: a short story

Staff Writer

(Charles Bloom/The Kansas City Star/MCT)
She closed her eyes. Everything was so calm and so peaceful. She could hear a river flowing and feel grass beneath her feet. She smiled at the growing daisies and felt so content in her happy place. She opened her eyes. The real world was closing in on her, trying to make her something she was not, trying to change her. It was suffocating. She closed her eyes, and she was back in her private little escape. She smiled, thinking that no one could bother her here, until she was abruptly startled back to reality.
“Get a move on,” someone pushed her aside impatiently.
“Look at that weirdo with her eyes closed,” another whispered.
She looked around at the people who had spoken. She was standing in the middle of a party, and she could hear a buzz of chattering everywhere. She wished she could be anywhere else but here. She hated having to continuously refuse drinks from random strangers and feeling the need to pull her skirt down to her knee. Parties were not her thing; she had only come because of an insisting friend who had ditched her as soon as they arrived. Neither was she like those around her nor did she want to be like them. She hated that she felt the need to change to fit other people’s expectations of what was cool. Why should she have to change to be socially accepted as a normal teenager? As far as she was concerned, teenagers were rowdy, obnoxious and generally irritating. These people at the party were getting on her nerves. She grabbed a water bottle and retreated to a corner with the fewest number of people. She closed her eyes again momentarily before she was pushed again. She rolled her eyes and turned to face whoever had pushed her, fully intending to vent her frustration. She came face to face with a brown eyed, black haired boy who looked just as out of place as she felt. He grinned at her nervously and held out his hand.
“Hi, I’m Jeremy,” he said, “Sorry for running into you.”
“Bea. It’s okay.” She scooted slightly away from him.
“So Bea, what brings you to this party?” He looked so uncomfortable that she suddenly felt the urge to laugh.
“Honestly, I don’t know.”
“I know what you mean,” he chuckled. “I don’t know why I’m here either.” They sat in an awkward silence for a while before he spoke again.
“You’re not really here though, are you? You keep gazing off into the distance, like you’re seeing something I’m not.”
“Oh,” she responded, taken aback that he had noticed. “I’m not really looking at anything in particular. Just being in my happy place.”
“Your happy place, huh? Maybe I’ll try that. Anything’s got to be better than this party.” He sat back and closed his eyes. She watched as a small smile formed on his face. She could not help but smile herself. Maybe teenagers were not all bad. The five delightfully unexpected minutes she spent with Jeremy help her come to this realization. She liked her new friend already.