20: “You look so funny!”

Bernie and Lawrence were invited to his friends’ Mickey and Georgia’s for a Halloween party. They accepted the invitation just two days before Bernie was invited to Oscar and Ramsay’s Halloween party, the party that all of her other friends were attending. Mickey and Georgia’s guest list included Carla and Roisin, who were back together but tenuously, Keith, who had invited Priscilla, and a whole host of other people Bernie had never met before. She assumed they would all be gorgeous as that was something of a trend within Lawrence’s social circle. Priscila had, much to Keith’s disappointment, turned down the offer in order to attend Oscar and Ramsay’s party instead. Bernie was envious and furious. She had to spend the evening with strangers and Priscilla got to spend her evening getting drunk and having fun. To make matters worse, Keith took the opportunity to ask Bernie’s opinion on his and Priscilla’s relationship, which wasn’t something she wanted to do at all.

“Why didn’t she want to come to this party with me?” Keith asked, managing not to sound as whiny as Bernie figured he ought to. She loved Priscilla dearly, but it had kind of been a dick move. Of course, Bernie partially thought that because Priscilla got to do something fun while Bernie ultimately suffered and also because she could’ve sacrificed her chance at fun to spend the evening with Bernie. If Bernie had had Priscilla by her side, she doubted Mickey and Georgia’s party would’ve been so hellish. Beyond all that, however, Keith had technically invited Priscilla to his friends’ party before Oscar and Ramsay invited them to theirs on the subway ride to work one morning and she had turned him down.

“Uh…I don’t know,” Bernie answered uncertainly. “She and her sister had a partner costume so it was probably that.”

Bernie wasn’t so sure it was that, but, at the same time, it was difficult enough to go as a French grammar concept as it was; she was sure it was much harder to convey on one’s own.

“But do you think it’s a bad sign?” Keith asked, persisting in having a conversation that Bernie clearly wanted no part of. She had thought she was being fairly obvious. Her back was half turned on him and she was actively scanning the crowd for someone else to talk to, doing nothing to hide that fact. Of course, the answer was that it most definitely was a terrible sign. No good could come from this, least of all for Keith. He’d already lost so much; his job, most of his dignity. Bernie wanted to warm him to get the hell out while he still could, but she was fighting some kind of abstract and fierce support of her friend and, most importantly, she wasn’t sure she cared all that much.

“No, it’s fine,” Bernie waved him off dismissively, lying through her teeth. She briefly wondered how he could even question it without knowing innately that it was a terrible sign. No one bailed on a party in favour of another party unless they thought the second party was a much better option. In a way, it was a very good analogy for Priscilla and Keith’s entire relationship. Keith was this horrendously boring Halloween party and Priscilla was just biding time until she could bolt for a much better option. Bernie felt a little bad for Keith. Unfortunately, she also felt very bad for herself because she was already stuck at this boring Halloween party; she at least wanted to be doing something other than talking to him. She would definitely like to be drinking more and possibly eating.

“I guess I thought she might like to spend the holiday with me,” Keith said, a touch forlornly. Bernie wondered what kind of holiday he thought Halloween was. As far as holidays went, it was probably the least romantic. It was even less romantic than Easter.

“Ah well, you know how these things go,” Bernie said, waving her hand about, before bolting in the direction of the kitchen in search of alcohol, food, and more alcohol.

In the kitchen, she ran into Georgia and Roisin. Georgia had dressed as an extremely sexy Jessica Rabbit and Roisin was an extremely sexy cavewoman. Bernie had never felt more out of place in her life, even when she had feathered bangs in high school in the 2000s. She and Lawrence had come as Beth Beyers and her living room wall from Stranger Things, except they had decided that it would be funny if Lawrence went as Beth. He had bought a brown wig and was wearing plaid. He had spent the entire time getting ready proclaiming that he looked just like Korean Winona Ryder, which wasn’t entirely true, but Bernie let him have it. She, meanwhile, was wearing a floral pantsuit they’d found at a thrift shop. It was truly hideous and ill-fitting and not at all sexy. And then they’d wrapped her in battery-powered Christmas lights.

“You look so funny!” Georgia crowed when Bernie joined them in the kitchen. She and Roisin laughed. Bernie assumed they meant it in a nice way, as in her costume was so clever and hilarious, but it felt a little bit more like they were telling her she looked physically funny, which was significantly less nice.

“Oh, thanks,” Bernie replied awkwardly. “You guys look great.”

Roisin literally flipped her hair at that. Georgia at least smiled and thanked her, showing a modicum of humility. Bernie was beginning to suspect that Roisin and Carla were constantly fighting because they were both ridiculous human beings. Carla may have been a crumby slob and an insensitive prick, but Roisin seemed a little up herself. Besides which, they were two people who thought it was acceptable to give someone a larger than life-sized oil painting of their own face for their birthday and that was really weird.

Bernie drank a lot, but it still managed to not be quite enough. Lawrence never left her on her own for very long, but it was still terrible. She mingled with a few of his very, very good-looking friends, attempted to avoid Keith, and, at one glorious moment, she saw Roisin’s monkey feet. They really were like monkey feet. They were hideous and Bernie was delighted.

“Next year, we can spend Halloween with your friends,” Lawrence told her as they left Mickey and Georgia’s, arms linked. He smiled at her. It was the first genuine smile Bernie had received all evening and hers in return was the first sincere one she’d worn as well.

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