Shine Not Burn
Author:Elle Casey

“You’re welcome. Thank you for flying Delta. Have a pleasant trip.” He looked past me to the person next in line, so I took the hint and moved to the side.


Grabbing our carry-ons, we left for the security area, Candice and Kelly already making plans for our first night in Vegas. I heard something about slots and a night club before trying unsuccessfully to block out the rest. I let out a long sigh, realizing as each part of their plan was revealed that I had two days of adult babysitting to look forward to. It was no big deal, though. I’d had lots of practice in college being their roommate. I’d always been the responsible one, the dedicated driver, the girl who held their hair while they barfed over the toilet, the one who dispensed tissues and served up ice cream when boyfriends made them cry. Two days in Vegas, running after my best friends and keeping them out of the kind of trouble that follows a person home. How hard could it be? I had four years of practice at the University of Florida. This would be a piece of cake.


My phone buzzed after I went through security, and I read the text on the screen while we walked to our gate. The words glowing out at me didn’t make the outlook for my trip any brighter. I considered turning around and dealing with the problem now so I could get it all over with, thinking I could hook up with my friends later. This was seriously going to ruin the trip for me.


“What’s wrong, party pooper?” asked Candice, coming up beside me and putting her arm across my shoulders. She’s normally only two inches taller than me, but with her stilettos, she had me by half a head easy. I’d worn lower heels today so I could be comfortable for the trip. It was more practical, and I was nothing if not that. Candice, on the other hand, abhorred practicality. She considered it the devil’s influence and the road to a truly boring life.


I gritted my teeth, trying to contain my anger, trying not to let Luke ruin our bon voyage. “It’s nothing,” I said, acting nonchalant about it. “Just Luke.” I went to slip my phone into the outer pocket of my purse, but Candice snatched it away from me.


“Hey!” I protested, reaching for it.


She handed it over to Kelly, keeping her grip tight on my shoulders. “Just relax. We’re here to help.”


“Oh my pink granny panties, did he actually just send this to you in a text? What a total douchebag McGee.” She looked at me with her patented WTF expression. “Seriously, Andie, you so need to kick him in the balls when you get back.”


“Whatsit say?” asked Candice, letting go of me and reaching for the phone.


“Read it and weep.” Kelly gave me a pity frown as she handed the phone to Candice.


Two seconds later, Candice was typing something out on it.


“No!” I said, reaching for it. “Don’t!”


“Too late! Too late!” she sang, dancing around in a small circle, holding the phone above her head.


I jumped up and snatched it away from her so I could read the very short conversation.


Luke: I can’t believe you’re going. Have a nice life.


Andi’s phone: Have a nice life yourself, assbag.


“Wow. Thanks, Candice. That was awesome.” My thumb hovered over the keys, ready to type out an explanation. An apology. Something.


Candice grabbed me by the arm and dragged me over to a group of empty seats inside our boarding area. “Listen to me, Andie. Before you send him another text, consider this...”


I sat down letting out a huff of frustration. I had already reached my vacation destination. Welcome to Sucksville! Next stop: Shit City!


Candice continued. “Luke’s been sucking the life out of you for three whole years. Three years! And in all that time, what has he done, other than annoy the crap out of your best friends and make you cry? Huh? What has he done to deserve your undying loyalty? I don’t get it.”


“He’s not that bad,” I said, feeling a little guilty as I said it. My grandmother had always told me even little white lies were bad lies.


“Not that bad? Yeah, right. What did he get you for Valentine’s Day this year? Oh yeeeaaah, that’s right! A gift certificate towards liposuction! Wasn’t that thoughtful.” She rolled her eyes and threw up a hand for emphasis.


“Not,” interjected Kelly.


“He knows I don’t like my love handles on the top of my butt,” I said, knowing as the words left my lips how incredibly lame I sounded. Why do I keep allowing this stuff to happen? How can I call myself a strong intelligent woman when I act like a complete loser with men?


“Right. Whatever.” Candice was disgusted. “Talk about keeping a woman down. And what did he do the last time you went out of town for work? Oh, yeah. I remember now! He made out with his secretary at the office party!” She threw both her hands up and let them fall to slap the top of her thighs.