The party spirit in the house is contagious, and everyone seems to be infected, chatting and laughing, moving and grooving. Tables are heavy with ice-filled buckets packed with ciders, beers and spirits. There's a crowd of Grade Tens buzzing around the table.
And nobody's been wasting any time putting back the drinks.
Precious is my best friend. We've never actually gone out and drunk together before. We take a cider each and stand shyly just outside the loud circle of school friends, awkwardly clutching the bottles, and taking small sips. My neck muscles feel tight.
There are a couple of girls wearing skinny jeans, bright wedges, vests, and glamorous boy's-cut hairpieces. They're rocking the look. I smooth down my horrible dress as I try not to think about how much more fun they seem to be having than me.
"Seriously, you really look beautiful in that dress," says Precious with an encouraging smile, reading my mind. I roll my eyes at her. "You're kind, but who do you think you're kidding?" It's weird. I've been feeling so excited about today, but now that I'm here I can't think of anything to say, and I'm not having the greatest time. I feel like I don't really belong. I lift my drink to my lips and put the whole thing back in three long gulps. Then I giggle.
Precious rolls her eyes. Here’s the thing: she’s catching a taxi home to her village tonight. Unlucky for her. Unlucky for me. Once she's gone, I’ll have nobody.
I trail around the party, my grey dress and mood making me invisible to every happy person having a good time.
"Everyone does it." That’s what young people say about drinking when they're under age. Do you think underage drinking is cool? Or does it bring more trouble than it's worth?