It was hot with all those bodies in the room, so she opened the balcony door.
The left speaker had just blown and the room felt unbalanced with music filling only one side of it. It made her feel off-kilter, like the moment the world goes quiet before a fainting episode.
There were people perched precariously on all surfaces – the arms of chairs, the step leading to the kitchen, the glass coffee table. A glass half full of red teetered on the edge of the bookcase.
She returned to the decks and looked up to see a boy she didn’t know enter from the hallway. He seemed to know her flatmate, who was gesturing around the room.
He was wearing a shirt in a pattern of tiny red and white checks and nodding at something she was saying. Her flatmate handed him a beer and he took a swig, letting the bottle fall to his side.
She busied herself with choosing the next song and smiled as her best friend Alice approached the decks.
“I’ve just been talking to that bearded guy. He’s a bit awkward but he seems nice. You should go talk to him.”
“Oh…” she said, trying to think of an excuse.
“You should, go on.”
She tutted. “Alright.”
She motioned for her friend to take over the music and walked over to the boy.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you.”
He took a long drink of beer and sat down on the ledge between the kitchen and the living room.
“I’m Meg,” she said, sitting down next to him.
There was a pause just long enough to border on uncomfortable.
“So… do you know Sarah?”
She nodded. “Cool. She invited you then?”
“Sort of. I saw it on Twitter.”
It was her turn to take a long drink. Her flatmate is inviting people to their party on Twitter.
“Where were you before this?”
“I was at my mate’s birthday down the road, but I got bored so I came here.”
“On your own?”
“That’s kinda brave, rocking up to a stranger’s party on your own?”
He shrugged. “I guess.” He drained the dregs of his beer.
“So what do you do?” she said, grasping for something to talk about it.
“I work in the travel industry, in events.”
“Wow, you must get to go to some good places then?”
“Yeah,” he nodded.
“I’ve only really been to America, but I love it, have you been?”
“Yeah, a few places.”
“New York, California…”
“They’re both great aren’t they?”
She took a drink.
“Do you want me to go? It doesn’t really seem like you’re that interested in talking to me.”
He turned and looked at her. “No? I guess I just don’t have much to say right now.”
“Wow you’re hard work.”
“OK,” she said after a beat. “I’m gonna go back and DJ a bit more,” she said.
She walked back over to Alice.
“You weren’t kidding were you?”
“HA, I know. He seems nice though.”
“How can you tell?”
“He’s just a bit quiet.”
Meg rolled her eyes.
Across the room, Adam rolled a cigarette.
She watched him walk over to the balcony and light up. She decided the best course of action was to circulate with a glass in hand.
By the time she reached him again she was wearing a confidence-boosting booze jacket.
She lit a cigarette even she’d blagged. She didn’t really smoke but it gave her something to do with her hands.
“Hey,” he said. He was holding a record.
“War of the Worlds.”
“Why do you have a copy of War of the Worlds with you?”
“I was DJ’ing my friend’s party and I wanted to play it, but it’s the wrong version.”
“Why, what’s wrong with it?”
“Oh. I guess that’s a good enough reason. Though I’m not sure why you’d want to play War of the Worlds at a party.”
He took a drag on his cigarette.
“Bet I can throw it over there.” He gestured to the multi-storey carpark on the other side of the street.
“It’s too far away.”
He took the vinyl out its sleeve, rollie between his lips.
“Bet I can.”
He looked at her, waiting for the dare. She shrugged, “Go on then.”
Hurling it like a Frisbee, he sent the record sailing across the road. They watched it land on the roof of the carpark.
She nodded slowly. “Very good.”
“Shall we go back inside?”
They sat beside each other on the sofa.
“Your dress is like digital chainmail,” he said.
“Do you maybe want to hang out this weekend?”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
He had been hard work. She wasn’t giving in that easily.
“Yeah… If you want to.”
He was looking down at his hands. She waited a few seconds. Let him sweat.