Meet the Girls Part I - Holly


Are you ready to hear more about the lovely ladies of Girls' Night Out? They're a pretty lively bunch, each with their own strengths, desires and, um, let's call them idiosyncrasies. I had such a blast writing these characters, somehow infusing them with different elements of my own personality. One of the girls, however, is without a doubt the most similar to me. Once you meet the three of them, we'll see if you can figure out which one she is! Without further ado, here's Holly....

Holly

I stared long and hard at my reflection in the mirror. I had put a lot of effort into my appearance tonight, hoping it would distract the girls from the shambles my life had become. Of course, the new clothes, the sleek blowout (Madame Maxine’s most promising beauty school student had outdone herself) and the bold lip color might be a dead giveaway for them. Of the three of us, I was the one least likely to care about her appearance.

I sighed heavily as I put on a last coat of mascara. The bronze eye shadow complemented my green eyes perfectly and the deep red lipstick along with my short black hair gave me an air of mystery that I found thrilling. My green velvet scoop-neck blouse and black knee-length skirt showcased my body perfectly (while allowing me some sense of modesty) and the black wedge-heeled ankle booties made me feel sophisticated. For a brief moment, I understood all the fuss Amanda made about clothes and makeup. I would never understand her obsession with stilettos though. Two steps in those things and I would have been on the ground. No question.

A quick glance at the clock told me I needed to get my butt moving. My destination was only half a mile away, but it would take me twenty-five minutes to walk there in my chosen footwear. I really had to start saving money for a car.

“Holly! You need to get going!” my mom called through the door.

And my own apartment.

I opened the door, knowing if I didn’t she would. “I’m almost ready, Mom.”

“Oh honey! You look gorgeous!” she squealed.

“Thanks, Mom.” I smiled, trying to look more confident than I felt. “I really need a night out.”

“You sure you don’t want me to drop you off?” She peered down at my feet. “Those hills won’t be easy in your fancy shoes.”

The last thing I needed was to be dropped off by my mommy. My life was sad enough already.

“No thanks,” I replied smoothly. “I was really looking forward to the walk.”

It wasn’t a total lie. Fresh air helped me to clear my head and I had to be crystal clear to deal with Jayne’s inevitable questions tonight.

After giving my mom a quick kiss on the cheek, I grabbed my coat, bid her goodnight and set out for our meeting point. I inhaled the cold winter air, relishing the slight sting once it hit my lungs. I had always felt most alive when outside. With each step I took, my mind relaxed a little, allowing me the hope that I would actually forget my troubles for the night and enjoy the time I had with my besties.

Thank goodness the girls had agreed to meet within the confines of our hometown of Gapton, Connecticut, instead of making me trek into the big city once more. I swear, if Amanda dragged us to one more hipster bar filled with craft beer I was going to puke. (The last place was actually called a Craft Sanctuary. Seriously?) If I wanted fruit flavor, or God forbid, chocolate, in my beer, I would toss a Tootsie Pop in my Sam Adams and call it a day.

Amanda and Jayne had been my best friends since we bonded over our love of Mallomars in Mrs. Berger’s first grade class. The moment I saw Jayne dive-bomb a bully to save her favorite cookie, I knew I wanted her in my life. Amanda and I promptly joined the fray and the three of us spent the next hour shooting daggers at our sparring partner while we all sat in detention for “unnecessary roughhousing.” Needless to say, he never messed with us again. This incident earned us the memorable nickname, the “Cookie Girls,” which we later abbreviated to “Cookies.” It was short and sweet, just like us. Amanda was the tallest of our group at a whopping five feet one inch.

We used to be inseparable. We were rarely lucky enough to be in the same class in school, but we spent every other waking moment together. We even managed to go to college in the same city. Jayne and I went to NYU, while Miss Smartypants went to Columbia. We got an apartment halfway between the universities and left for our next adventures hand in hand. The last few years had been far more difficult given our divergent career paths, but we had made a pact to get together once a month.

While Jayne and Amanda were well on their way in their chosen professions, I was the only one who still didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. Not that anyone who knew me would be surprised by this revelation. I saw the world as full of endless possibilities—each one more fascinating than the last. First, I thought about being a fashion designer, but my unique taste in clothes made this a near impossibility. (According to Amanda, I was too “out there” to be appreciated in my own time.) Then I thought about being a runway model, until I realized my height of four feet eleven inches would be a small impediment. Pun intended.

Every day brought the desire for a new career. I changed my mind according to my mood, the latest trends or even the weather. My parents hoped college would knock some sense in to me, but alas, I continued to struggle. I graduated by the skin of my teeth with a Bachelor of Science in…Psychology. I may have changed my major seventeen times and I may have been passed from advisor to advisor, but I walked out of that experience with a long list of life lessons and a degree. B.S. indeed.

Jayne and Amanda had spent the past decade toiling away, sacrificing their social lives and relationships to pursue their educations and build their careers; to create something they could be proud of, whereas I had, well, floundered. I had worked my way through fifteen jobs in the last six years, trying everything from human resources to dog walking, but nothing stuck. I couldn’t seem to find my place in the world.

My parents were beside themselves with worry, as my quest for the perfect career had gone on far longer than they were comfortable with. My younger brother, Jordan, however, thought it was incredibly amusing. He called me the first Sunday of every month to ask, “How’s your new job, Holly?” Like I changed jobs every month! Every five to six months was a more accurate description. (Only once after four…)

Jayne and Amanda had long since stopped bugging me about my lack of direction. They were far too busy focusing on my inability to keep a man in my life. And as much as I hoped my appearance would distract them, I knew they would ferret out my latest heartbreak before the evening was over.

(Excerpt from Girls’ Night Out by Glynis Astie, Copyright 2018)

Intrigued? Come back next week to meet Amanda!

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