The nightlife in the students’ districts isn’t nearly as glamorous as the parties of the higher-ups, or even the companies and districts some of them would soon be working for.
But for the students, including a young Lesly, it was ideal. A mixture of all kinds of people from varying backgrounds.
Children of business owners and accountants and security officers, drinking and laughing with children of factory owners, chefs, maids, janitors, farmers, murderers, thieves,
and even some traitors. The lineage and futures of their peers didn’t concern most students until they entered the buildings of their universities and internships.
When they were training and learning, they wanted to keep their images unsullied, untainted, and most of all desirable to the higher-ups.
Friendships with peers born in a higher district was the saving grace for a select few people who would’ve otherwise have been working in the lower districts.
And with every potential factory worker who found a way to climb into a security position or desk job,
there was an accountant’s son whose deplorable behavior and friend circle bought them a ticket to the outer rim.
It was cutthroat to say the least, students were constantly suspicious of the other, while also seizing the coat tails of those destined for better things.
It was a place to grow future workers, not a place for friendships. But none of that mattered at night.
Dark rooms filled with haze while low humming plays in the background.
Dead instruments revived for a few hours a night,
combined with synthetic noises in order to create a compete harmony of sound which moves and shakes the hordes of young bodies on the dance floor.
Empty bottles litter the walls,
only leaving a few spaces for some strangers to speak to each other while the flickering red and green and blue and violet lights illuminate their faces for brief moments.
The air was heavy from the exhaled inhalants and hormones, and the music was blaring,
and people were having fun making conditional friendships and one-night stands and singing and dancing partners, and a nineteen-year-old Lesly was sat on a stool against a wall.
She was turned into herself, a bottle of booze dangling in her fingertips. Her eyes scanned the room, searching through the crowd of clanging bodies.
Through the maze of horny young adults, she sees a tall slender body leaving the party. Lesly gets up and pushes through the crowd and follows in their footsteps.
She sees that the long legs belonged to the boy with the red mohawk. She’s talked to him on several occasions since their first meeting.
Mostly brief words of greetings, some how’s your day’s, a handful of jokes and sharing of alcohol, and few party invitations.
Now that she’s finally seen him at this party, she was going to cling to him until it was over.
The boy turned around after hearing some footsteps behind him, and his smile cut through his aloof expression.
“Yo!” his words cut through the music, meeting her before she could greet him. He searched her face for a second, trying to recall her name.
After seeing her as a passerby for so many years he could recognize her in an instant, but he never knew her name until they were in the same classroom together.
“Lesly, how’s it going? Enjoying yourself?” He’s invited her to numerous parties before, but she’s only accepted his invitations recently.
He thought it was an association thing, that she’d only accept the company of future interns or higher-up kids.
But looking at her face now, he sees it was at least partially due to her lack of social finesse. Which was probably why he only saw her talk to one person at their university.
“Hey, Akai,” Lesly said, her voice barely audible over the music. She struggled in her mind.
How does someone ask another person if they could follow them?
She desperately wanted to cling to somebody she knew during the party, to act as a familiar barrier between herself and the hordes of unknown people.
Barry didn’t really like going to these things, he thought them a bad influence on one’s life.
But Lesly wanted to drink a little, and she didn’t have any way of getting alcohol, alcohol being illegal to serve to students.
Considering her options, her only choices were to either hang out with Barry with no alcohol, go home and sleep with no alcohol,
or go to the party surrounded by people she didn’t know and have alcohol. She didn’t like it, but she enjoyed the drinks and music.
If she only knew someone who had a connection, like Akai, who she used to see hanging on the side of her apartment building with a bottle in hand.
If she tried to pursue a friendship with him, maybe he could get her what she needs.
She wasn’t very good at networking, for that she gave up on any prospects of being an office worker, but she could try with him. Maybe she just needed some practice.
If she just pushed herself a little harder she’d be able to find the right words to say and be like more prosperous people in her class.
She needed to get better, otherwise she might get stuck as a factory worker. An idea she didn’t hate but knew it would come with less benefits.
Realizing she was staring at him with her normal dead fish expression, she turned her attention outward.
“Where…are you going?” She tried to put a bit of charm on her words, but felt awkward and went back to her normal deadpan voice.
“I was just going to go and smoke with some friends,” he said, seeing her disinterested expression. “You wanna join me?”
“Sure,” Lesly replied with the slightest smile. This caused a big smile to spread on Akai’s face.
He gestured to her and proceeded out the door and made his way down the balcony stairs followed by Lesly. They stopped at a group of students sitting around a round glass table.
A thick smell hung around them while half empty bottles cluttered the center of the table. Akai put his arm around Lesly, and introduced her to the table.
Lesly, barely paying attention to their name, stared at one girl there. Lesly remembered seeing her with the two boys she was sitting next to in most of her classes.
Her makeup was distinct, striking, and beautiful. She would’ve been jealous if she didn’t like it on her so much. The boy sitting to the right of the girl spoke up.
The boy sitting next to the pretty girl spoke first.
“Oh shit you actually came,” he chuckled. The girl with the makeup slapped his arm, chastising him for his rude outburst. “No offense, but I didn’t think this was really your ‘thing’ y’know”.
“Where’s that boy your always with?” The girl with the makeup asked. “Is he here with you?”
“No, he doesn’t really do these things,” Lesly pushed through her teeth, looking away from the group of young adults. She looked over their shoulders, then over her own, then the floor.
There was no way out. She was stuck in a particularly sticky situation. Outside of Akai and Barry, she was only vaguely aware of the other students she went to class with.
She saw them, and on rare occasions remembered their names. They were white noise in her mind. Silhouettes moving in and out of her line of sight. She rarely paid any attention to others.
And she had no mind to. As she saw it, as long as she walked her path straight, she couldn’t stray too far and fall.
The idea of meeting with others, exchanging information and favors in order to secure a favorable “maybe” for your future seemed like too much effort to her.
She had resigned herself to the life she was destined for. And she definitely did not want to get involved with a messy crowd of people who could influence how she’d be judged in the future.
It was hard enough to be at a university with her background. Being involved with a mismatched group of students could only bring more trouble to her name.
“Oh, that’s too bad,” the girl with the make-up said, with a mischievous grin. “He’s kinda cute.
” While the others shifted their attention towards each other as they passed a small inhalant around, the girl gave Lesly a side-eye, trying to read her reaction.
After giving up after a second or two, she shifted her attention the circle forming next to her. Akai motioned Lesly to sit down next to the girl with the make-up.
As she did, she was given the inhalant. She took a deep puff and coughed furiously. The boy sitting next to the girl with make-up erupted in laughter, as Akai patted her back.
She passed the hazard to Akai, who took a deep inhale with such grace and ease that Lesly thought that he must’ve been a professional delinquent.
The ceremony continued as such for a few more rotations, until they broke out into an all new commotion. They began talking about the most inane things.
They talked about books they had just read, and the weather, and the frivolous activities they had done with their families before entering their university.
Lesly couldn’t understand why people like these, people like Barry, would just sit around talking about such silly things.
What sense or purpose comes from discussing intangible things of the past or fake stories and fake emotions about a fake life or a fake future.
And as minutes passed, they never reached a real point! There was no use for such information and no reason for talking about such dumb things.
The whole conversation was ridiculous! Lesly started shifting in her seat, readying to stand up and walk out, when she got a gentle tap on her shoulder.
The girl with the make-up, passing a bottle to Lesly, with a perfectly colored smile across her face. Lesly took the bottle and thanked her. She readjusted herself in her seat and took a sip.
At that moment, against her better judgement, Lesly decided to sit there and just listen. At least a little while longer.