Over the past 48 hours, a stream of photos from Taylor Swift’s Fourth of July party have been released at what almost seems to be pre-scheduled intervals. Of course, the most notable of these images is the apparent paparazzi shot of Taylor’s supposed boyfriend Tom Hiddleston wearing an "I ❤️ T.S." tank top, along with a "T" on his arm in a lipsticked heart. There is a theory that "Hiddleswift" is all a stunt meant to promote a single or music video; with the tank top, said theory has gone from vague whispers to loud rumblings. But there is another possibility to which only few have lent credence: What if Tom has been kidnapped?
Join me, if you will, on the shores of Rhode Island. You have the perspective of one of the skinny, pretty, blonde guests of the party—it doesn’t matter which one. You and your counterparts have been told, as per the invitation, that Frolicking In The Ocean will take place between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. It is currently 12:57.
You are led down to the beach by one of the production assistants, who gently suggests you make small talk with Gigi Hadid and Blake Lively. You are discussing the possibility that there will be American flag onesies this year when you see Taylor emerge with Tom. He’s got his head down, and something seems off. You’re wondering what’s wrong, especially because he’s wearing a tank top in the water— is he a middle schooler?—when Taylor splashes him. His face bubbles into a grimace, but he fixes it quickly into a grin.
The production assistant who led you down to the beach is signaling to a photographer who is doing a rather shoddy job of hiding behind a giant rainbow umbrella. After a few more splashes and a hug, Taylor takes Tom’s arm. She marches past you and pauses before a strange arrangement of boulders surrounding the beach. “Well, go ahead,” she says. Her voice is so snappy and chipper, it sends goosebumps down your spine.
Taylor and Tom ascend the boulders, and you can’t help but recall the pile of rocks next to which they first kissed. “Is this a deliberate visual homage?” you wonder, noting that the photographer is now taking direct instructions from the production assistant. You’re snapped out of your deliberation as Blake grabs your hand.
“Did you hear me, silly?” she asks, beaming as if she has just woken from the most beautiful dream. “I was asking if you think a three-month-old will be able to eat canapés?” You’re about to answer, to tell her, "Certainly not—a three-month-old would choke and die if fed canapés," but it is too late. She has already pivoted her pregnant belly toward Gigi, and is telling her about a new recipe for butter.
“Oh shoot, it’s 3:00!” Gigi interrupts, waving her phone in the air, as if it is awful, damning evidence of something other than the current time. Right on schedule, Taylor reappears, strutting her way back down the rocks. The invitation specifically stated that the First Fun Group Photo would be taken at 3:00, and Taylor really does not appreciate lateness.
Blake and Gigi have already begun heading toward the water with their arms around each other’s backs, as if preparing for a three-legged race. Soon they are joined by all of the other pale, bikini-clad women, as they rush to embrace one another, leaving the allotted space for Taylor in the middle.
“Hey, everyone!” Cara Delevingne says with a raise of her eyebrows, and it occurs to you that this is specifically not everyone. Tom is gone.
Your mind starts turning with possibilities as you recall his fleeting look of misery a mere 45 minutes earlier. The… could he be… you stop yourself short of the most horrifying possibilities. They can’t be real. This is Taylor Swift! She is so nice. She is friends with literally everyone.
“Hey Taylor, where’s Tom?” you ask. You two are friends, right? She can’t possibly mind you asking where her new boyfriend has gone. Except, almost as soon as the words leave your lips, you long to snatch them back. The goosebumps have returned to your spine, and you feel cold inside for reasons other than the fact that you’re a model and weigh less than 120 pounds.
Taylor turns her head toward you in slow motion, and it’s like her head is a volume dial on the surrounding giggling. Everyone is completely silent when she finally faces fully in your direction. She pauses a beat, letting it sink in that you are also being stared at by the entire cast of the First Fun Group Photo.
“Who?” she says.
Blake lets out a scream of a laugh, and says, “Taylor you are TOO MUCH!” Soon, the production assistant is snapping photos. You’re determined to get a straight answer before the next activity, but everything happens too quickly. All at once, the photos are over, and everyone is sprinting back to the house, hoping to get a chance to change into their second bathing suit before the Water Slide Hour.
You find your assigned patriotic one-piece, which was messengered over with an embargo and NDA two nights earlier. Clutching it to your chest, you walk past more than seven bathrooms finding them all full. You head downstairs. Finding the bowling alley empty, you slip inside and pull on the new suit, pretending you are not terrified of being caught.
On the walk back toward toward the living room, you peer into the movie theater, the craft room, and the unmarked door, which is rumored to be the walk-in closet where Taylor stores her jams. You consider peeking inside, to see if it’s true, if there really are hundreds of mason jars meticulously stocked inside—each a memory of a specific Instagram-ed moment. “Could someone who hoards jam really be a monster?” you think, understanding immediately that that is actually just more evidence of monstrousness.
It’s only when your hand is on the door knob that you hear it. Muffled screams—the kind that have moved from an attempt to alert others to the sound of unadulterated pain. Jesus Christ. It’s Tom. You’re frozen still, feeling the weight of your sweaty palms, but you jerk yourself out of fear, moving to pull the door open. In the same instant, you realize that it is locked and that Taylor is standing behind you, carrying a pile of impossibly fluffy towels which you’ll need for the Candid Group Snap at 5:45 p.m.
She removes one from the top, and hands it to you cooly, her lips pursed as if she caught you with a hand in the cookie jar. This is a clear command for you to go outside, to never speak of what you think you’ve heard, to spend the next 60 minutes outwardly enjoying the waterslide, or else. Your hands are shaking as you reach out to take the towel, knowing even then you’ll be forever haunted by her menacing whisper, “Remember to have fun.”
Disclaimer: This piece is a work of fan fiction. That said, Tom Hiddleston, if you are reading this and require assistance, please draw an upside down “T” on your forehead in lipstick.