Cheat

Hey hypothetical readers! This is a post in response to a prompt I got here.

 

Cheat

 

The stale taste of cigarettes clings to the roof of my mouth in sour, curdled hairs. My car window is down, so that I can scoop fresh air into my lungs, and banish that logy, slept-too-late, beer-bloated feeling still clogging up my brain. I stop at a red light, and my phone glares at me from its place on the passenger seat. I know that if I turn it over, there’ll be a text there, waiting to push self-hatred deeper down my throat. I don’t reach for it. Instead I turn up the radio and keep driving.

 

Last night, She said she was tired, and She took an uber home, her mouth twisting at my stumbling attempt to be gallant and hold Her door open for her. We were still in a fight, and I was glad when She was gone. My friends were going downtown, and I was angry, and sleepy from day drinking, so I bumped adderall before we left to get myself right. The light slid by in lurid orange and green while we joked and cut up and sang along to young thug in the car. When I got to the bar, I was already hammered, twitchy, and pumped up, ready to decompress, ready for a good night.

 

I pull into my apartment lot, music blaring, and stare down the people all around me, people who are going to the gym, doing their homework, getting on with their lives. I park, then sit, engine running, and lean the seat back until I’m staring at the car’s fuzzy grey ceiling. I feel like crying, but I can’t, or won’t let myself. Eventually I hear someone walking behind the car, someone laughing and happy with their life, and decide that it’s time to go somewhere less visible. I lug myself upright, get out, slam the door, drag my aching legs up the stairs. I go inside my apartment, mumble a greeting to my roommate doing work at the kitchen table, and retreat to my room. I find my antidepressants, dry swallow a pill, and flop down on my bed. I realize I left my phone in the car, but I’m not going to get it.

 

Last night, She texted me to ask if I wanted to get lunch with Her tomorrow, at that place we went on our third date. It was a peace offering. I ignored it. I was too busy getting lit, and hitting on the cute girl in the short blue skirt, the girl with the eyes that danced when I touched her arm. I ignored that text, but I knew it was there, even as the girl in the blue skirt led me out onto the dance floor, even as one of my buddies cocked an eyebrow at me while she kissed my collarbone over her shoulder, her body pressed up against me. I felt Her beside me, and I pushed Her away with alcohol and denial, and let myself feel a surge of vindictive pleasure when the girl in the blue skirt said her roommate was away for the weekend, and that her apartment was just around the corner.

 

I curl myself into the fetal position on my bed, and wish; that I hadn’t gone to my buddy’s house last night, that I hadn’t gone out, that the awkward, hung over interaction this morning was part of some horrible nightmare, that I was dishonest enough to lie about what happened last night. I have to tell Her. I have to. If I don’t, the part of me that is disgusted about my own actions, the part that is already telling me how much of a piece of shit I am, that part will eat me alive. I force myself out of bed, go to the sink, and slap my face with a double-handful of frigid water. Then I walk outside, to find my phone, to make a call.

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