The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 19

who look more at home than I do makes me want to melt into the wall. Blue and orange streamers are everywhere. Bucknell colors.

"Look who’s here!” Aunt Carol swoops an arm around my shoulder and hands me a slice of pizza. Donny and Uncle Jack are sitting at the kitchen table with Dad, who just smiles at me like he never doubted I’d show.

“Bill said you were busy with homework,” Aunt Carol says. “And your car—so sorry about your poor car! We really need to get that crater filled in.”

Uncle Jack exhales loudly. “I’ve told you all, when it’s this cold and snowy, there’s nothing—”

“Yeah, yeah, we know.” Aunt Carol sips from the beer in her hand and continues talking to me. “Desiree is around here somewhere, I’m sure she’d love to see you. She’s probably with Gavin, so if you find him, you’ll find her.”

Gavin is Des’s latest boyfriend, a Hulk-sized football player who just got a scholarship to play for Penn State. I’d hoped Des would follow him there in the fall, but deep down I knew she was too smart to do that.

“Did you bring anyone along?” Carol shoots me a pointed look.

I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s making this into a competition, too. But the idea of Des and me vying for the best love life makes me feel like a second-rate reality show contestant. Not to mention Carol just asked about it in front of my dad and Donny, who—between the two of them—have scared away all of my potential boyfriends.

“You mean the secret boyfriend I’m hiding in my jacket pocket?” I take a huge bite of pizza and revel in Carol’s chipper smile icing over. Donny snorts into his beer.

“Wine’s on the counter, beer’s in the fridge, baby doll.” Carol disappears into the living room crowded with people. I’d enjoy this night infinitely more if I were drunk, and I think about slipping a wine glass from the cupboard. But Dad’s right here with his fingers wrapped around a Pepsi can. These parties have been tricky for him ever since he decided to quit drinking. So I grab a bottle and