|The Blood Bather|
Chapter 1 -
Imagine long perfectly manicured lawns before magnificent Victorian homes lovingly retrofitted with updated plumbing and heating. Greek letters one after the other displayed above the doors; the music, lights and female chatter and laughter spill into the street attracting no small amount of attention. The view is low and feral, a heartbeat begins to become apparent, first quickening then slowing. The sound of breathing, slow and laboured as it drinks in all that it surveys.
"Girls, ...girls!" The president is tapping her champagne glass filled with whiskey with an equally long manicured fingernail, her iPad balanced precariously upon her ultra skinny legs in suede cashmere boots and micro pleather mini, her perky ultrablonde ponytail bouncing with effort.
"Pay. Attention!" each word enunciated carefully to mask a slight slur. She continues reading: "The Panhellenic Association of this university does not condone the use of alcohol at parties. So all drinking must be done off campus..."
Stifled giggles all around as each female takes a shot of tequila from a selection of ugly shot glasses, souvenirs of spring break vacations with favorite frats on campus. Like a debauched nun, a sister is pouring from a carafe for those who seem too sober. The president punches the screen with her finger and reads the next regulation. "The university recognizes the signs of alcohol abuse as the following: "Drinking every day" - shot - "Drinking to get drunk" - shot - "Drinking to manage stress" - shot...
Tucked into a corner of the overstuffed couch, beside the president but not infringing on her status by bearing too close, Audra sat lip-syncing each regulation as it was read aloud. Her "little sis" Song Le giggled as Audra timed it with a small nip from her own silver flask, and then gave Song a playful wink. Little sisters, or "littles" as they were known, were not in the biological sense related but rather in the sorority sense meaning Song Le, now a sophmore, had been paired with Audra last fall after becoming a full-fledged Omega after rush week. The president, one Whitney Rose Hessian-Hamilton, who preferred to be known as White Rose noticed the wink but said nothing.
White Rose continued reading from the primer on alcohol and then moved on to some new business. "As you know, there was that unfortunate incident last year resulting in the new anti-hazing regulations. Even though the girl no longer attends this school, we still have to abide by it. There are to be no, NO!, members of the opposite sex in the house during rush week" - a small smattering of groans came from behind Audra - "and there are to be no, NO!, incidents of public nudity from yourselves." This was followed my some more giggling.
"And if you are going to jump in that fountain, you are going to have to do it fully clothed, bitches. Better yet, no one jump in that fountain and none of us will have to be treated for chlamydia this year, you disgusting whores."
White Rose, who could swear like a sailor but lacked basic impulse control, was referring to a truly unfortunate incident last September where a house decided to parade their rushes in front of a frat wearing only their bra and thongs, then gave the brothers sharpies and told them to "circle the fat". The resultant mayhem, from feminists, administration, and the general public led to the entire group of rushes running toward a public fountain in a misguided attempt to rinse off the evidence of permanent marker, creating a truly memorable photo shoot of college coeds - most underaged- in wet cotton unmentionables soaking wet, freezing cold, crying with make up running and an ravenous audience of lacrosse players hooting and recording it all for youtube and posterity. The president of that house was summarily expelled, the house lost its charter for three years and most of the rushes are now rushing different sororities at different colleges. The lawsuits were still ongoing.
"Finally, you ugly retards, go upstairs and put on some goddamn make-up. For those of you still at loss, they have makeup tutorials online. Or better yet, hire a fucking professional! Look perfect, be friendly, talk about positive things and for Christsakes DO NOT EAT anything. You freaks drink all your calories anyway... she paused to lift her glass and finished in a singsong voice "and that's exactly how we like it". Audra was quite sure White Rose was drunk now. Everyone took a shot.
The girls staggered to their feet and dispersed throughout the house to change and ready themselves for the first soiree of the new semester. It was with their unofficial brother house, DKE, known as "Deek". Former members of the house included several
Presidents and currently comprised the most eligible bachelors on campus. US
Because she was vice-president, Audra stayed behind to have an executive meeting with the other chairs of the house. The grand salon, with its thick blush carpet and heavy ceiling to floor voile curtains covering giant picture windows grew very still as soon as it emptied. Almost eerie, or somehow sacred. Like a church, thought Audra, and we are the sisters of unmercy. The softest shell pink lacquer covered the walls. It had clearly been decorated in the mid-80s by some Laura Ashley-loving sisters.
"I saw what you did there" White Rose spat, as soon as they were alone. "I can not allow you to undermine my authority in meetings. Especially during rush week!"
"Rush week hasn't started yet and it's not a big deal" sighed Audra. White Rose was a pain in the ass, more so when she was hungry making her an angry drunk. A hangry drunk.
"Rush week hasn't started yet" White Rose squeaked in a mocking voice. "I'll tell you what hasn't start yet...my fucking period,"
So that was it.
"How are things with Micah?" Audra asked, looking at her nails.
"Micah? Fine. He's probably taking shots from between the breasts of freshmen cunts right now..."
A mixed metaphor with an interesting visual, thought Audra ruefully.
Last spring, when some of her abusive emails to her sisters were leaked to the on campus newspaper, then to the internet and then the world, White Rose had been taken to task for her words and her behaviour. But her father was a very successful litigation lawyer and she managed to hang on to her spot at college, her spot in the pre-law program, and was still voted President of their house. Which proves that some women are just asking for it.
Just then White Rose produced a two-toned blue pill in the palm of her hand, like a magic trick, and quickly chased it with a belt of single malt scotch from her champagne glass. She stared forward the entire time, pretending Audra could not see her.
This is new, Audra thought. "What was that?" she ventured. And it was then she heard White Rose's thoughts. A single word, amplified by fear: LIE.
White Rose: "Caffeine pill. Micah has a lot of energy before the season starts, y'know." She shrugged like Olympic sex marathons were her major. Which actually might be true, they just didn't include her boyfriend.
Audra looked at her nails again and nodded. One was broken, the ring finger on the left hand. She would have to get that fixed. Audra really wanted to ask why White Rose had switched from her preferred champagne to scotch but it was more effort than she could bear at the moment.
"Where are those fucking bitch-"
Sherisse Pinto bounced down beside Audra, the beads in her perfectly coiled dreads swinging. Sherisse was Treasurer and Secretary of their chapter, and the daughter of a local news anchor, who specialized in true crime shows that aired late at night. She was slightly famous, very privileged and intended to become a clinical child psychologist. That is, if she could ever shut up about her horses.
White Rose always changed slightly in Sherisse's presence. She became softer and less volatile. Audra thought it was because Sherisse was black or slightly richer or more well-travelled than White Rose, but honestly she couldn't put her finger on it. Audra focused her mind on White Rose, trying to hear something but just got white noise. Airhead, thought Audra.
"Hiiiiyyyyyeeeee" breathed Bronwyn as she glided in the door. "I just did a double hot yoga class and I feel ahhhhmazzzziinnnggg" Browyn Olsen was the Social Chair, rounding out the four positions. Her ultra slim noodle body seemed to disintegrate on the floor and arange itself in a crosslegged sit with perfect posture. "Are you high?!?" spat White Rose.
"Not yet..." Bronwyn pulled a small joint from her sports bra - bra being a more impressive word than what it was holding up; stark-naked Bronwyn could be confused for an undernourished adolescent boy - and smiled with all her teeth. It was like she had double the amount of a normal person. Her father was an orthodontist and they were all perfectly straight and even, like Christy Turlington in the early nineties. Audra wondered if she hid a lot of emotion behind that extreme smile. No one could be that chill.
"Oh what the actual fuck. Let's bring this fucking pathetic meeting to fucking order", began White Rose...
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