The Dare - Elle Kennedy



It’s Friday night, and I’m watching the greatest minds of my generation get destroyed by Jell-O shots and blue concoctions served from ten-gallon paint buckets. Sweat-beaded bodies writhing half-naked, frenzied, hypnotized with subliminal waves of electronic arousal. The house is wall-to-wall psych majors acting out their parental resentment on unsuspecting future MBAs. Poli-sci students planting the seeds of the blackmail checks they’ll be writing in ten years.

AKA your typical Greek Row party.

“Have you ever noticed how dance music kind of sounds like listening to drunk people having sex?” Sasha Lennox remarks. She’s standing beside me in the corner, where we’ve wedged ourselves between the grandfather clock and a standing lamp to best blend in with the furniture.

She gets it.

It’s the first weekend back from spring break, and that means the annual Spring Break Hangover party at our Kappa Chi sorority house. One of the many events Sasha and I refer to as mandatory fun. As Kappas, we’re required to attend, even if that means our presence is more decorative than functional.

“Like it wouldn’t be so offensive if there was a melody, at least. This…” Sasha crinkles her nose, and her head twitches to a siren wail that blares through the surround sound system before another shattering bass line thunders in. “This is some shit the CIA used on doped-out MKUltra test subjects.”

I cough out a strangled laugh, almost choking on the cup of whatever YouTube party punch recipe I’ve been nursing for the last hour. Sasha, a music major, has an almost religious aversion to anything not performed by live instruments. She’d rather be front row at a concert in some dive bar, the reverb of a Gibson Les Paul ringing in her ears, than be caught dead under the flashing techno kaleidoscope of a dance club.

Don’t get me wrong, Sasha and I certainly aren’t fun-averse. We hang out at the campus bars, we do karaoke in town (well, she does, while I cheer her on from the safety of the shadows). Hell, we once got lost in Boston Common at three in the morning while stone-cold sober. It was so dark that Sasha accidentally fell into the pond and almost got molested by a swan. Trust me, we know how to hang.

But the ritualistic practice of college kids plying each other with mind-altering substances until they mistake inebriation for attraction and inhibition for personality isn’t our fondest idea of a good time.

“Look out.” Sasha nudges me with her elbow at the sound of shouts and whistles from the foyer. “Here comes trouble.”

A wall of unabashed maleness crashes through the front door to chants of “Briar! Briar!”

Like Wildlings storming Castle Black, the towering goliaths of the Briar University hockey team trample through the house, all thick shoulders and broad chests.

“All hail the conquering heroes,” I say sarcastically, while Sasha smothers a snide smirk with the side of her thumb.

The hockey team won their game tonight, putting them into the first round of the national championship. I know this because our Kappa sister Linley is dating a benchwarmer, so she was at the game snapchatting rather than here with us cleaning toilets, vacuuming, and mixing drinks for the party. The privileges of dating royalty. Although a fourth-stringer ain’t exactly Prince Harry, but maybe somewhere closer to the coke-addict son of someone prince-adjacent.

Sasha pulls her phone from the waistband of her skin-tight faux leather leggings and checks the time.

I peer at the screen and groan. Oh man, it’s only eleven p.m.? I already feel a migraine coming on.

“No, this is good,” she says. “Twenty minutes flat and those goons will have the keg killed. Then they’ll blow through whatever’s left of the liquor. I’d say that’s quitting time for me. Half-hour, tops.”

Charlotte Cagney, our sorority president, didn’t explicitly mandate how long we had to stay to fulfill our attendance requirement. Usually, once the drinks run dry, people go looking for the afterparty, at which point it’s easy to sneak out unnoticed. With any luck, I’ll be back in my apartment in Hastings and in my pajamas by midnight. Knowing Sasha, she’ll drive into Boston and find a live show.

Together, she and I are the outcast stepsisters of Kappa Chi. We each came to be among their ranks for our own ill-conceived reasons. For Sasha, it was family. Her mother, and her mother’s mother, and her mother’s mother’s mother, and so on, were all Kappas, so it was never a question that Sasha’s academic career would include carrying on the legacy. It was either