Could this party get any more boring? I’d been leaning against this wall for the last thirty minutes watching everyone in the crowded room. I’m surprised I haven’t left an imprint of myself on the wall. I have had several people stare at me but ultimately they are all strangers to me other than my cousin JP and his best friend Rafe who dragged me out tonight. Being new in town they thought I needed to mingle. I wanted to stay home and try to get some sleep for once. I’m always so tired but can never sleep. My thoughts keep me awake. Don’t think. Don’t think. Don’t think.
So here I am, surrounded by drunken teenagers but feeling utterly alone. JP and Rafe have ditched me and are nowhere to be seen.
There are so many people crammed into this room and not a single one has approached me or tried to make conversation. I guess that’s what I get for being the new guy; invisible and easily looked over. It will be a different story once we start school next week. And that’s when I spot her; the girl from the other night. This time she’s dressed in a simple white strapless dress flowing down past her knees. The skylight above her casting a spotlight on her, illuminating her, giving her the appearance of an angel minus the wings. I wonder if she remembers me? I watch her. She’s magnetising and I can’t resist the pull. My eyes refuse to leave her. She’s so alive and carefree. So different from the girl I came across by chance. She laughs then but it doesn’t reach her eyes.
No one else notices. It’s all an act. To me she’s scared and ready to bolt from her cage at a moment’s notice. However, to the ignorant drunken people surrounding her, she is the life of the party.
Her friend spins her around, her dress lifting and twirling with her body. They’re having a right old time laughing and spilling their drinks, throwing caution to the wind. She peers around like she can sense someone watching her. She catches my eye and we stare at each other but while my gaze is filled with curiosity, hers is blank. There’s no recognition on her face. I don’t understand. Does she not remember me? Does she not remember the other night?
“Don’t think. Just breathe” is Sarah Delany’s debut novel. It is the first in what she hopes will be a trilogy. She is one of eight siblings, has a loving partner and is a stay at home mother to their four young boys. Writing this novel was a therapeutic way for Sarah to deal with the pain and grief she suffered in 2019 after losing her father but also her sister and one of her best friends. She’s a New Zealander who currently resides in Queensland, Australia.