IF YOU MISSED IT... HERE'S PART 1 of THIS SHORT STORY! https://www.storywell2.com/post/chillers-by-bree-pt-1-creative-writing-wednesday
Chillers by Bree took the school by storm. Every day, a new customer hopped by, eager to try Isabelle’s much hyped flavors. She was constantly experimenting with new ones, trying to find the perfect blend.
There was the effervescent, foaming pink that tasted like lavender, sunflower seeds, sunset, and licorice. The silver and red tasted like nickels and apples; the cyan was, oddly enough, cinnamon toast. Everyone couldn’t get enough of that one. Isabelle called it Cinnamon Cerulean.
Although Shawn and I hung out by Isabelle’s locker almost every day, I never took a sip of a Chiller. I only asked around, interviewing the crowd, to quench my curiosity -
“Hey you, what’s that taste like?”
“Hey you, feeling drunk?”
Isabelle would joke that I should run a news feature on the Chillers, or maybe be her marketing girl.
“You could be my hype chick,” she said one day, after I’d cornered down Lilly Dawlson and asked her like fifteen questions about her Chillers by Bree experience.
“Sure, haha.” My stomach folded again. I had a terrifying vision of myself, taping up electric yellow posters with psychedelic fonts screaming CHILLERS BY BREE. My stomach leapt into my throat. No way, Jose.
People might’ve thought I was a bad girl, cigarette, beer bottle type. Nope. I wouldn’t survive a minute in the principal’s office, being asked why I’d promoted selling alcohol to minors.
The thought made me shudder.
But there was something undeniably irresistible about the Chillers. Their colors were mesmerizing, and Isabelle refused to tell how she made them. “A magician never reveals her recipes,” she’d say, leaning against her locker, curling a strand of red hair around her finger.
And it wasn’t just the colors, but the flavors, that seemed impossible.
Smoke and ocean. Cigarettes and flax. Vanilla and endless forest, white rose and clean air.
And it wasn’t just the flavors, but the way people felt after their drink was drained.
Kids proclaimed it was the best high they’d ever felt. Girls said they could fly to the moon. Boys said they were deep in the sea, the glint of pirate’s gold in their peripheral vision.
Cinnamon Cerulean made you think you’d sprouted angel wings; Blackberry Storm transformed you into a gorgeous heart-throb (in your own mind). It was kind of like that placebo Felix Felicis from Harry Potter that makes Ron win the Quidditch game. (Hey… stop looking at me like I’m a total nerd!)
Basically, Chillers by Bree were a beautiful thing in the eyes of a stressed high school kid. It gave relief, it gave escape, it gave stimulation and excitement. It was the most potent drug you ever popped, with none of the side effects - except the withdrawal.
Kids craved their daily Chiller. Like zombies, they crawled to Isabelle’s locker, and once they’d had one, they would never have enough.
Isabelle started going to every party, serving Chillers in red Solo cups. She relished in their praise. She was queen of the school, and we were all under her thumb. Even me. Even though, though she bugged me day and night, I refused to drink the magic potion.
Isabelle wanted to spend the night at my house, and she wanted to bring Henley Cox.
“Why?” I slammed my locker door shut, hitching my backpack higher on my shoulders. “She’s insufferable.” “She’s quite nice if you get to know her.” Isabelle hugged her textbooks to her chest. “Don’t be so judgemental.”
“Please. I’ve known Henley for like, ten years longer than you have, and she is insufferable. I rest my case.”
“You aren’t resting anything.” Isabelle pulled her phone from her pocket. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing. Me, you, Henley, and Larissa are sleeping over tonight.”
“Hold up. Larissa?” I pictured her red-red nails, her red-red lips. “She’s even worse.”
“Just. Trust. Me.” Isabelle rolled her eyes. “See you at 7.”
“It’s a school night.”
“Who cares? So, 7?”
I was powerless.
“8,” I told her, just to be contrary. In any small way that I could.
“Can I have some girls from school over tonight?” I asked my mom that afternoon, trying to sound innocent. As if one of those “girls” hadn’t handed my boyfriend a spiked mason jar just ten minutes ago.
“That’s fine.” She sighed. “Work sucked today.”
“Oh?” I tore open a package of Oreos and started dipping them in peanut butter. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it, m’kay?
“ Oooh, gimme some of those.” My mom snatched a PB-coated cookie from my hand.
“Mom tax.” She shrugged.
“Hey,” I repeated. “Unfair.”
“Just like taxes in real life. Get used to it, Shims.”
I groaned (internally). I was so sick of being called Shims and Shimmy; what was wrong with Simone, anyway? I guess everyone’s gotta have some kind of nickname. Even if it’s stupid.
“Whew. Make sure to change before you have friends over.” Mom fanned her hand in front of her nose. “Try to sweat less next time.”
I rolled my eyes at her, which made her point to the broom, which meant, don’t-be-rude-,-sweep-up-the-kitchen. So I stopped being rude and swept the kitchen.
Drew came in through the front door, painting mud all over the carpet with his dirty, dirty cleats. “Hey Simone. How was track?”
“It was fun. How was soccer?” I eyed him suspiciously as he edged nearer and nearer my Oreos.
“Ditto. Mm. Those look good.” Drew grabbed a treat from my plate.
“Bro tax.” He downed the Oreo in one bite. “Wish we had milk.”
“Urrrgghhh.” This time, I groaned out loud. Then I whacked him with the broom.
So were we even.
And life was good.
Things were different back then.
I rolled out four sleeping bags on my unfinished basement floor. “Sorry,” I shrugged, to Henley’s sour glare, “We’ve been exiled to the Arctic.”
Henley made a show of rubbing her sweater-clad arms. “But I’m so cold! Can’t we go upstairs?”
“My dad works from home,” I told her. I didn’t tell her why. “Still has weird hours. Late nights. We can’t bother him.”
“Well, my dad doesn’t care if I’m around,” she sniffed. “I don’t bother him at all.”
“Good for you.” You bother me. “What a life.” I started snooping around for the space heater.
Henley frowned, obviously upset that I was no longer “entertaining” her. “When are the fun people getting here?”
“Wow. You suck.” I said. “Y’know, it was pretty nice of me… to let you come over… to my house…”
Henley pulled her dark curls into a high ponytail. “I only came because of Bree. Don’t get a big head.” Her eyes brightened. “Hey, can we go upstairs? I saw a TV.”
“It’s Drew’s day for the TV, plus, just, urgh!” I kicked over a stack of abandoned cardboard boxes. No space heater. “I’m looking for the heater, ok? So you won’t be so goshdarn cold anymore!”
“Your parents make you take turns with the TV? What are you, five?” She laughed.
“Please, be quiet. This heater’s going to make me go ballistic.”
“Are you sure it’s down here-”
“Yes! I’m sure it’s-”
“Because it doesn’t seem-”
“Just shut up!” I roared. I did tell her I was going to go ballistic.
Then the doorbell rang.
“Nice, you carpooled?” Henley gave Larissa and Isabelle an approving nod. “That’s super good for the environment.”
“Sweet.” Isabelle smiled, that shimmery fairy-tale gossamer smile. “I brought cupcakes too. Homemade.”
“Of course you did, Bree, you’re the best.” Henley said, dimples deepening. Why do only mean people get those über cute dimples? It isn’t fair.
“Come on in!” my mom shouted from the kitchen. “Simone, why are you making them just stand there? Don’t be a weirdo.”
“I wasn’t making them do anything.” I mumbled. “Hey, uh, come in.”
Larissa and Isabelle stepped inside, slipping out of their shoes - brand new checkerboard Vans for Larissa, faded pink and green hightops for Isabelle. They must’ve noticed the pile of shoes by the front door; my brother’s dirty sneakers and my dirty boots. Suddenly, I was embarrassed. Not just by the shoes, but by the dishes strewn across the living room, popcorn kernels on the carpet. And the ashes in the fireplace, and the sticky, spilled smoothie on the kitchen counter I’d forgotten to clean, and my brother’s muddy cleatprints on the floor, and my mother’s over-boldness and my father’s conspicuous absence, and…
All my life’s little flaws were normally just background noise. But when I saw them through other’s eyes, they became magnified.
What must Larissa think, clean little mouse, with perfect parents, when she sees the mess I am? What about gym class hero Henley, or Isabelle, cooler than thou?
Now they knew how messy my life was. I shouldn’t have been ashamed, or cared what these girls thought. But I was, and I did. And it sunk deep into my core.
All this, sprung about by the contrast between Larissa’s store-bright Vans and my scuffed boots. Isn’t being a teenager a funny thing?
“So did you bring the good stuff?” Henley whispered when Isabelle set the cupcakes on the counter.
“Of course,” she replied, patting her overstuffed duffel bag. “I’ve perfected a bunch of new recipes. We’re going to have the best night of our lives.”
I pictured a version of Henley, drunk as a boiled owl. Well, isn’t that grand. Best night of our lives? Likely story.
By nine-thirty, we were sprawled out on the sleeping bags in the basement, which was now more akin to Antarctica, me having still not found the space heater. It was mostly the Henley and Isabelle Show. Larissa didn’t talk at all, (being mousy), and I was still pretty mad at Isabelle for inviting people over to my house - my house! Why not hers? So I just sat there and silently steamed.
At nine forty-five, Isabelle dug out the Chillers. “This one is charred lime and seasalt,” she said. “This one is ivory, blueberry and silk. This one is citrus and chai, and this one is cotton, sugar, and seafoam.”
Henley grabbed the dark green, bubbling concoction. “Right on time. I was starting to wonder if I was ever going to get a taste.” Larissa chugged the orange drink til it was gone, and smiled for the first time all night. Isabelle herself had nothing.
“Simone?” She taunted, wiggling the glittery white Chiller around teasingly. “I made this one especially for you.”
“Cotton, sugar, and seafoam?” I said. “Um, no thanks.”
“Trust me. It’s the Simone blend. You’re gonna love it.”
I crossed my arms. “Didn’t I freaking tell you? I don’t drink.”
Henley giggled. “Chillers are different, Shimmy. This isn’t just some lame Miller Lite.”
Larissa nodded. “Yeah, you really should try it. You don’t get drunk, not really.” Larissa took a deep breath, something shining in her blue eyes. “These are… special.”
“Hey, five star reviews!” Isabelle exclaimed. “Seriously. You’ve gotta be the only person in school who’s never had one.”
“Grace McGuthrie spit hers out,” I said.
Isabelle grinned. “Then came back for more.”
“Even the Christian kids drink it,” Henley said solemnly.
“It’s special.” Larissa repeated, draining another.
“You’re my best friend, Simone, but you don’t trust me enough to drink this, and I made it specifically for you.” Isabelle said, suddenly serious.
“You’re so stuck up.” Henley sucked down the last of her Chiller. “How’d you ever land a guy like Shawn?”
“Yeah.” Larissa said.
“Yeah,” said Isabelle.
“Enough!” I shouted. I grabbed the drink. For a moment, joy flashed across Isabelle’s face. She really thought I was finally going to give in. I would finally drink it, and be under her spell, just like everyone else.
I stood up and hurled the Chiller across the basement. It hit the far wall and shattered into a million pieces. Glimmering pearly liquid oozed across the floor. White blood. Ghost blood. It began to smoke; I thought I heard sizzling sounds, but maybe that was just the heat of Isabelle’s anger, washing over me in waves.
The spell was broken.
I realized then, what the point of this “sleepover” had been. Isabelle just wanted to convince me to drink the potion; it was marketing, it was lies.
Hurt and betrayal was drawn all over Isabelle’s face. “I made that… for you.” Her breathing was shaky, a tremor in her hands. “Especially for you.”
“ I told you. I told you I’d never drink one. You shouldn’t have pressured me.”
“I thought we were friends.” Isabelle’s face flushed ambulance-light red. “Those Chillers are my life’s work.”
“Your art. I know. But I’ve seen what the Chillers do to people, and I don’t like it one bit.”
“It’s so beautiful,” Henley protested, her eyes saucer-wide.
"You look stupid," I spat at her. Then I turned to Isabelle. “Since we’re friends,” I said “you should’ve known that I don’t like feeling under someone else’s control.”
“You think it’s control? It’s the ultimate freedom.” Isabelle pointed at the white blood seeping across the floor. “That could’ve freed you, Simone, but you chose to stay shackled.”
“This is BS.” I rolled up my sleeping bag. “Have fun at your party. I don’t want to play anymore.”
“Simone, I just want you to be free. I want you to know what… what liberation is.” Isabelle was breathing heavy, her chest heaving. “The Chillers can give you everything you need.”
“This is liberation,” I said, marching up the stairs, leaving them alone.
Alone, and silent, and stunned.
They left before the sun rose, like they’d never been there at all.
My cafeteria table was empty on Friday.