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   Chapter 1 The Cuddle Application

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 14908

Updated: 2017-12-12 13:13


"In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria."

~Benjamin Franklin

~~~

"Goddammit, Skylar!" One of my best friends screamed from across the room, their voice assaulting my eardrums like a chorus of unwanted base drums. Something—many things, actually—hit me in the face, my fuzzy brain barely comprehending it, and I rolled my eyes in time to see a deck of cards fluttering down onto the beige carpet.

I eyed the ace of hearts from my upside-down position on the bed. The swirling design swam in and out of focus like a pool of black ink and melted, red candy.

"What?" I mumbled, my words coming out gargled. I laid both upside-down, and covered with stifling hot blankets. My head felt heavy, buzzing softly from the alcohol, and my feet began kicking randomly, trying to find an escape. The alarm clock from the bedside table swung into view, the red numbers square dancing in front of my eyes. I could barely make out the time.

3:14 AM.

The Jack Daniels bottle appeared in front of my face. My eyelids fell shut.

"Your turn, " Lina announced loudly. The only noticeable thing I could see about the face mere inches in front of mine were the piercing blue eyes. The rest of Lina's features didn't quite pop out at me in my drunken state, besides the abominably red hair that sprung out in multiple directions. Lina's blurry lips moved as she morphed the word, "Drink."

Overtaken by excitement and adrenaline, I sprang up from my position, my legs getting tangled under the blanket. I tipped off of the bed, landing haphazardly in the deck of cards. My head swayed and my eyesight became blurry. The dimly-lit room turned even darker as my head lifted from the floor.

"Whoa, " I slurred, and then I laughed. My nose hurt.

"Drink, " Lina ordered again, handing me the alcohol. She blinked rapidly, fighting off the sleepiness that threatened to overtake her. I was surprised. Lina never stayed up this late at sleepovers; usually it was Cora who would cheer me on and force more liquor down my throat.

But it was Cora -- who had long since passed out -- who had recommended that we play Truth or Dare. But I had said that "truths are for pussies, " so Cora had suggested raiding her parents' liquor cabinet. Getting away with this was terribly easy, since neither her mother nor father were home. They seldom ever were.

So it had turned into a game of "Do What I Tell You To, " with a gulp of alcohol between each turn. Cora had passed out, sprawled across the fluffy, beige carpet, when the bottle of Jack had still been half full. She had never been good at holding her liquor.

My friends were such good role models. I was an even worse one, our weekly sleepovers having been my idea.

A small amount of amber-colored liquid sloshed in the bottom of the Jack Daniels bottle — it had been full when we'd taken it from Cora's wine cellar. I tipped the glass from side to side, hypnotized by the wet consistency that crashed against the side of the bottle, like waves against the shore. Waves that held the capacity to cause mass destruction in the form of a hangover the next morning.

I looked over to Lina, watching her fiery hair morph from blurry to focused as my eyes failed to separate the two. Her doe-like eyes blinked at me from her lounged position on the floor next to me.

"I like this game, " she said, grinning. "We should play more often."

I nodded, and the movement sent my brain into a hammering frenzy.

I looked to the floor - the only thing that wasn't moving - and saw the back of a blonde, curly head.

"Hey Cora, " I mumbled in greeting. "What 'cha doing over there?"

She answered with a snore that sounded like the rumblings of a small avalanche.

Turning back to Lina, I giggled, "Last one. Make it good!"

I took a large swig from the bottle, finishing off the drink. It burned down my throat, and left my belly in a heated panic.

At the same time, it made me laugh.

"Okay, what do I do, Leaner?" I asked Lina, using her nickname. I barely got out the sentence before my head drooped.

I was on a fast track of becoming Cora - passed out, with my face shoved in the carpet and my ass in the air.

"Um, lemme th-think, " Lina stuttered. A hiccup escaped her lips, which caused her face to light up, and her icy blue eyes sparkle with laughter.

Just then, my phone chimed from across the room, lighting up. It was one of the only sources of light in the room - besides the faint strip of yellow beneath the door - since the sky outside had slowly faded to the darkness of twilight.

"I got it!" I screamed in an incredibly phony British accent. Facing in the direction of my phone, I bellowed, "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!"

Tumbling off the bed, I tripped over a math book, briefly reminding me that school was tomorrow. I crawled over to the desk my phone was on and grabbed it with greedy fingers.

Also on the desk sat a closed computer, purple and sleek, a desk lamp, and a few papers strewn about on the wooden desktop in an unorganized manner. I had pushed some of the papers in my hasty attempt to reach my phone, and they slid to the floor.

"Maybe it's Superman, calling to let me know he found my cat, Mr. Wombleton!" I bellowed excitedly.

Lina snorted. "You don't have a cat, Skylar."

Staring at the brightness of my phone screen, I was suddenly disheartened at this sullen information.

"You are clearly not as drunk as m-me, " I huffed towards my friend. Lina didn't drink that often.

"Just check your text, " she ordered.

Lina got up from her seated position - swaying a little - and walked over to her computer.

I looked at the small screen of my phone.

Park: come party wit us

The words didn't entirely make it to my brain for processing. It took me more than a few seconds to understand what Park wanted.

Me: why don't you make me

I sent the text and giggled to myself. Park was Cora's older brother and one of my best friends. He was a year older than Cora and I were, my brother James' age. They'd been friends all of high school, teammates in football and basketball, as well as baseball before my brother quit. Now they were seniors, graduating in barely two months, a fact that made me sad. I didn't want to say goodbye to Park next year.

Park: maybe i will. where r u?

The words blurred, and I struggled to comprehend them. I blinked, my eyes drooping from exhaustion, and steadied my hand on the desk. It took me three rereads to conjure up a response.

Me: no wher. I'm havin fun. Lrsve me akome

Park: your drunk

I blinked. Pshh. Am not.

Me: nope

Park: when ur sober, u capitalize everything correctly and yell at me for bad grammar. Like how I just used "your" instead of "you're"

I crinkled my nose, eyebrows furrowing. Was I really that easy to read?

Putting the phone down on the desk, I was suddenly very upset with Park.

He's mean.

My brain pushed out a memory as I huffed beside the desk. It began with Park and I at eleven and twelve years old. We had been racing on the street outside my neighborhood.

"Boys are better than girls, " Park had yelled, biking around me in endless circles. I had clenched the handlebars of my own bike, unable to accept this fact.

"Oh yeah?" I had asked confidently. "I bet you five dollars I can beat you in a bike race!"

He had smirked, a cocky habit he

had taken up even then, already sure he was going to beat me. "Ok, deal. I'll even give you a five second head start."

I had glared at him. "Don't need it."

He had laughed, positioning his bike next to mine on the street. "Alright, we race from here to the third mailbox."

I had looked down the street, counting down to the one he'd been talking about. "The red one?"

"Yeah." I remembered thinking, I am going to win. Boys are stupid.

"Ready, " Park had said.

"Set, " I had continued.

"Go."

Years later, I thought back to that moment as the day I had beaten Parker Creevy. The day he had let me win, although he'd never admit it.

Our friendship had only blossomed after that. Now I couldn't imagine a life without him.

I sat thinking for another moment before something caught my eye on the ground beside me. A bag of orange Goldfish crackers sat abandoned on the floor. I grabbed it hastily, digging my fingers into the bag. Plopping down on my bottom, I leaned my back against the desk and tapped my feet - which were clad in bunny slippers - together.

"I've got you now, Mr. Fishy, " I murmured to myself, tossing a fish cracker into my mouth and chewing loudly. "Die!"

I ate a few more before the bag was snatched from my fingers.

"Hey!" I exclaimed, loudly. "Dick move!"

Lina just grabbed me by the arm, dragged me up, and flipped me around to face the computer.

"Now you've done it." I informed her, stumbling. "Now Dr. FishFry is going to take over the world with his goldfish minions at his side!"

I had no idea what I was saying, but I figured somewhere deep down it made sense.

Lina shoved me into the black swivel chair, maneuvering my head so I was looking at the computer and not my beloved fishy treat.

"Ow, " I yelped. The computer screen seemed to be at maximum brightness in the dark room. "Leaner, your computer's on fire."

Lina's red hair formed a curtain between her head and mine as she leaned down to type something into the search browser.

"No it's not. Now read the screen, " she demanded.

"Are you even d-drunk?" I stuttered sleepily.

Smirking, she turned, skipped towards her bed, and executed a perfect nose-dive right into her flowery comforter.

"You belong in the Olympics, " I said, staring at the blob that was lumped on the top of the queen-sized bed.

"Skylar, read the screen, fill out the questions, and submit the sheet, " Lina ordered, burying her head under a pillow. "That's your dare. Do it."

I frowned and looked at the screen, which still seemed much too bright for my intoxicated eye site.

Peeking down at the computer mouse, I was overcome by a fit of giggling laughter.

"Aw, cute little mousy." I ran a finger over the wheel of the mouse. It moved, and with it, the small, arrow cursor on the computer screen. "Cute little guy. Do you like cheese?"

"Sky, " Lina warned. I snapped out of my trance.

"Fill out the sheet, " I repeated. "I got it." I stared at the screen. I squinted. I leaned closer.

I paused.

"Lina, I don't know how to read."

In the silence that followed, I attempted to study the letters that had been typed on the screen. Nothing made any sense. I tried to pronounce a word in the first sentence.

The.

"T-he, " I murmured. "Tee-he. Teh-heh. What the hell?"

"Skylar, you're seventeen, not four - you know how to read, " Lina murmured from the bed, her words hard to hear through my haze of drunkenness.

I looked back at the computer, blinking to try and clear the fuzziness that clouded the edges of my vision.

It appeared to be a website; that much was obvious. A form composed the web-page I staring at. It seemed suspiciously similar to a job application or questionnaire.

I looked at the top, and the website logo stared at me from the screen.

"CuddleMe, " it read in blue bubble letters.

"Oh my god, I can read, " I said aloud.

Next to the CuddleMe brand name were two little bears, one pink and one light green. They both faced each other, locked in a hug.

"This looks like a website for diapers, " I commented. Lina scoffed loudly.

I looked at the sheet.

"CUDDLE APPLICATION."

What does that even mean? I thought to myself.

"Lina, where'd you get this?" I asked in her general direction, suddenly feeling a little more awake.

When she didn't respond immediately, I looked over at her. She was face-down on the bed, pillow pressed to her face so her cheeks squeezed together. Her curly hair was splayed across the pillow and her face in a very non-ladylike manner.

"Lina? Are you awake?" I asked.

"I got it online, " she finally answered groggily. One of her eyes slid open to look at me. "I thought it was s-super cute so I saved the website." Her eye drooped closed again. "I thought it might come in handy."

I turned to face the computer again, satisfied with her answer.

"Handy, " I heard her mumble behind me. "Handy. Handy. Is that even a word?"

I poked the mouse. The cursor moved.

"... Handy."

I read the rest of the questions on the sheet. They were pretty basic, most of them "yes/no" questions.

"Okay, " I started. "So I fill this out, submit it, and boom - what happens then?"

"Why do you keep talking?" Lina asked. "I'm trying to sleep."

"What happens to the a-application when I click submit?" I repeated.

"It goes into the website, and people can see it. If they l-like what you answered-" she yawned "-they'll send you a Cuddle Request."

"What the hell is that?"

I was met with silence, and then a deep snore.

Great.

The Cuddle Application, although I had pretty much no idea what it was, suddenly sounded like a great idea.

I like cuddling, I thought. This is perfect.

I began to fill out the questions.

Name: Skylar Lane

Age: 17

Gender: Female

The whole process seemed incredibly easy. The only thing I had any problem with was filling out my phone number - which seemed near impossible to remember in my drunken state.

I moved on to the "yes/no". The first few were basic, such as, "Do you have a current boyfriend/girlfriend?"

I couldn't remember having anyone, so I pushed the "no" button with such force that the mouse crashed into the wall behind the desk. I startled, drunken eyes wide, and searched the room for any signs of disturbed life. Cora and Lina were still snoring, bodies glued to their beds. I turned back to the computer, glaring at the mouse.

"You almost made me wake up my curly fries."

Towards the end, the questions started to turn to mush in my head. I was exhausted and about to hit the sack - hard.

I stared at the last four questions and filled them out groggily.

Do you mind if I give you a cute nickname?

I clicked "no."

Can we build cute forts?

I clicked "yes."

Will there be junk food and random food fights?

I clicked "yes." After all, who didn't like food?

And last:

Do you mind kissing?

If there had been an option that read, "I don't mind kissing at all - come at me, bro, " I would have clicked that.

Instead, I clicked "no".

Then, after rereading my name to be sure I spelled it correctly, I clicked the blue "Submit" button.

And, without knowing who would see my application, or what would become of the sheet I had just filled out, I stood up from the chair and plopped right into a striped, pink and yellow beanbag.

There, buried in blankets, was where I fell asleep.

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