Take me back

It's New Year's Eve, Let's Get Drunk04-21-2021, 2100 words

High school

It was New Year’s Eve and Sol was alone in the house.

This wasn’t anything new. He was used to staying home while his parents went out to parties and galas and banquets and whatever else they were invited to. It was an arrangement that worked out for all of them, since Sol didn’t want to wear a suit and embarrass himself in a room full of big names and his parents didn’t want him embarrassing them either. These kind of events were networking opportunities.

After seventeen years, it didn’t bother him because he didn’t let it bother him. Not even when he came back from winter break and heard his classmates talk about what their families did. He was good at not being jealous.

Tonight would be like any other night. Sol would spend it watching reruns of some sitcom or other, inevitably losing the plot by the fiftieth episode. If he was lucky, he’d drift off to sleep right there on the couch and then the night would be over. He’d wake up to a new year and strangely enough, he would feel better even though nothing had changed.

He was on the sixth episode of The Batvenger: Fly by Night, a painfully C-list series whose titular hero reminded Sol way too much of another masked bat, when he heard tapping at the window. His first thought was the wind or maybe a tree branch but the sound continued, getting louder until it was clear that someone - a clearly irritated someone - was at the window. Which was kind of terrifying because home invaders were a thing and Sol’s house had enough valuables to feed them for years.

It did, however, seem counterproductive for a robber to knock before they entered. So resisting his instinct to hide beneath the bed, Sol turned his head towards the window and was rewarded by a freckled face grinning at him.

Oh. It was Chet. Well, that was better than armed robbers or something.

“Wait, this is the second floor.” How did he get up? There was a tree by the window but the branches were thin and Chet could fall at any moment. Sol wrenched open the window and grabbed Chet’s arm, pulling him in before he did. “You could’ve just knocked like a normal person.”

Chet shrugged, completely unapologetic. “Felt like climbing, I guess. Anyways, look what I brought!” He lifted a hand and showed Sol the bottle he was carrying. It was tinted blue and labelled in a language Sol couldn’t read, but it was obvious what it was.

Sol was suddenly reminded of all the elementary school assemblies he sat through, the ones with policemen who shook their fingers at an auditorium full of kids and told them to say no to peer pressure. He was pretty sure, like ninety-nine point nine percent sure, that he shouldn’t be doing this.

Sol swallowed, looked at Chet, and found that he couldn’t bring himself to say no. Because it was Chet. “We’re underage,” he said instead. The drinking age in Ontario was what, nineteen? They still had two years to go.

Chet must’ve found that funny because he barked out a laugh and shook the bottle in Sol’s face. The liquid inside (vodka, Sol guessed) sloshed obnoxiously. “Since when has that stopped anyone? New year, new…” Chet squinted at the bottle. “Damn, I can’t pronounce this.”

Sol tried again. “Shouldn’t you be at home? It’s New Year’s Eve.”

"I snuck out,” Chet said smugly. “My mom let me, she probably knows I’m at your place. I think she feels sorry for you.” He said the last part quietly, like he wasn’t sure if he should say it at all.

Sol looked away. Chet’s parents were nice, or at least nicer than his were, and his mother always gave him soft, worried looks whenever he came over. Chet didn’t know how good he had it, Sol thought. Or maybe he did and that was why he was here, waving a bottle of vodka in Sol’s face. It kind of made Sol feel warm and fuzzy inside. Saying no was getting harder and harder.

With a sigh, the last of Sol's resistance faded and he held a hand out for the bottle. “Alright,” he said. “I’ll try.”

He didn’t have any cups. Sol wasn’t messing with his parents’ crystal collection, not when his parents still hadn’t forgiven him for dropping a tumbler when he was eight. In his defense, he’d been a clumsy kid who liked shiny things and crystals were just that. So he took the bottle and chugged it straight.

Then immediately spit it all out because god, it tasted disgusting. Vodka was basically rubbing alcohol in a fancy bottle. It tasted sterile and even worse, it burned.

“Christ,” Sol muttered, wiping his mouth on the back of a hand. He looked up, realizing that he’d sprayed vodka and spit all over Chet. “Um, sorry.”

Chet was laughing, which was sort of mean but made Sol want to smile too. After a while, he calmed down, though a grin remained on his face. “First time for everything,” he said and grabbed the bottle from Sol. “Here, I’ll show you how it’s done.”

He was staring at Sol as he brought the bottle to his mouth, green eyes turned towards him like he was waiting for a reaction. Sol sat there and felt kind of warm. He watched the movement of Chet’s throat as he swallowed and wondered if he was drunk already. Even though he hadn’t actually drank anything. Weird.

Chet drank well, without any hesitation, which didn’t surprise Sol one bit. He was sort of a delinquent and it made sense that underaged drinking went hand-in-hand with starting fights and smoking on school property.

With a satisfied look on his face, Chet finished and brought the bottle down. He handed it back to Sol and looked at him expectantly. “Your turn.”

Right. Sol was supposed to drink too, actually drink and not just spit vodka on Chet’s shirt. He took the bottle and stared at the rim, working up the courage for a second try. Vodka tasted bad, really bad, and he had no idea how Chet stomached it. Was getting drunk really worth it? He wouldn’t have said it was, but getting drunk with Chet, that was different.

He brought the bottle to his mouth and took a breath. Some part of him thought about indirect kisses and he pushed it away because now was not the time, not when he was about to get crazy drunk.

This time, Sol was ready for the burning sensation as he forced the vodka down, ignoring the nausea that hit his throat. For good measure, he swallowed again and then a third time, just because he wanted to impress Chet. “There,” he gasped. “I did it.”

Chet was looking at him with wide eyes. “That was a lot,” he said slowly, like he wasn’t sure if Sol was okay.

Sol looked at the bottle. The two of them had somehow managed to drink a little less than half of it, and already, he was starting to feel the effects. There was nothing to do but shove the bottle back to Chet. If he was getting stupid drunk then Chet was too, especially since it had been his idea in the first place.

“Drink up, Chester,” Sol said and winced at how loud his voice was. Since when had volume control become so difficult? He shook the bottle in Chet’s face, just like Chet had before.

“Fuck you,” Chet said fondly and finished the rest of the bottle.

They sat there and waited for the alcohol to work. It was actually a little underwhelming, two boys sitting on the floor while the room spun around them.

“I don’t feel drunk,” Sol said and couldn’t tell if his voice was still too loud. One hand went to his face, testing for numbness, and he found he couldn’t tell that either. “Do you feel drunk?”

Chet tilted his head back and closed his eyes. “I feel like I’m gonna puke,“ he groaned.

“Well, don’t.”

“Distract me then,” Chet said and the way he said it made Sol’s face heat up. Or maybe he was just drunk and hearing things because the next thing Chet said was, “do a funny dance.”

That was the stupidest idea ever but somehow, it made sense. Still, Sol wasn’t doing it. He didn’t know how to and besides, his legs felt wiggly enough that he’d probably fall over as soon as he tried. “I can’t dance,” he said.

“Yeah you can.” Chet leaned forward and reached out with fumbling hands to grab Sol’s shoulders. He shook, once, hard, and tried to pull Sol up. “Let’s do it right now.”

Sol tried to get up, he really did, but then his legs collapsed beneath him. He stumbled, grabbed Chet for support, and ended up pulling him down with him. The two of them fell over in a mess of flailing limbs, Sol hitting the ground with Chet on top of him.

Sol flushed and it wasn’t from the alcohol. “This isn’t dancing,” he mumbled, tongue strangely heavy in his mouth. He felt Chet’s body against his, limbs tangled against each other, and wanted to shove him off. But he wouldn’t - shouldn’t - need to. Chet would get off by himself. If he stayed, it was weird.

So either Chet was weird or he was really, really drunk because he didn’t move at all. Instead, he all but relaxed, flopping on Sol with an exhale. The feeling of Chet’s weight on him was more comfortable than Sol would ever admit. He was warm too and his breath ghosted the side of Sol’s neck, making him want to get closer but also to run away. Rather than doing either of those, Sol awkwardly patted Chet’s back.

“Comfy?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Chet replied. He shifted a little, and Sol was met with a faceful of orange curls and hands that grabbed at his arms. “Actually, I thought you’d be bonier,” Chet said, squeezing a bicep and making Sol go red.

“I’m not that skinny,” Sol said, except if he compared himself to Chet, then he kind of was. But that wasn’t fair, Chet played sports so of course he would have more muscles. “I’m also not drunk,” he announced to no one in particular.

“Well, I am,” Chet said and laughed, propping himself up on his elbows so he was looking down at Sol. He stared at Sol with a thoughtful look on his face, and Sol hoped he couldn’t tell how flustered he was.

“You have nice hair,” Chet said after a while. “It’s so long. Does it make people think you’re a girl?” He reached out and yanked a strand.

“Sometimes, but only from the back,” Sol admitted. “They take it back as soon as I turn around - ow, that hurts.”

“Sorry, I’m drunk,” Chet mumbled.

Sol rolled his eyes. Like that was a good excuse for pulling on people’s hair. The room was spinning around him but his hands weren’t anywhere near Chet’s head. “So am I,” he said and got an apologetic grin in response.

“I’m more drunk,” Chet said and moved his hand to the top of Sol’s head, patting it clumsily. “This better?”

“Sure.” Sol closed his eyes and let Chet keep touching him. He was running fingers through his hair, making Sol thank his past self a million times for deciding to grow it out. Sometimes Chet pulled too hard or twisted his hand in the wrong direction but he stopped as soon as Sol made a noise about it. Then he was back to soft touches that made Sol sigh and his heartbeat slow. It was actually rather nice, nicer than it had any right to be.

“God, you’re so…” Chet trailed off, an impossibly nice expression on his face, and Sol wanted Chet to look at him like that forever.

He had a feeling this wasn’t what friends did, or boys, or boys who were friends. But it was New Year’s Eve and they were drunk and Chet was special. Sol wanted him to do things like play with his hair and look at him like he was the only one in the world. He had a tendency to feel like that around Chet, even if he wasn’t sure why.

The clock would strike midnight soon and then it’d be New Year's. The first New Year he'd be spending with company. The first one he'd be spending drunk too, and more important than either of those, the first one with Chet.

“Merry New Years,” Sol said after a moment.

“Yeah,” said Chet. “You too.”

He was going to remember this day for the rest of his life. Or at least he hoped he would, if alcohol-induced memory loss didn’t get to him.