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She’s staring at me in the eyes, asking, pleading with me to tell her the complete truth. For once. How did she get here so fast? It usually takes 35 minutes to get here from her place. But she got here in 20 minutes after we hung up.

7:00 in the morning on a Saturday. I guess there was no traffic. And she had to have been speeding. A lot.

A shame, really, because I needed more time to get my story straight.

“So,” she trails off, “are you going to tell me what happened last night?”

As soon as I had opened my front door, she marched directly to my bedroom, asking if my roommate was home. He wasn’t. She looked in my room, my closets, in the bathroom. And then she walked to my roommate’s room, looking for clues, confirmation of her biggest fear of infidelity. Or at least a fear. There wasn’t.

She paces back and forth in my living room as I try to remember what my brother had told me over the phone. Maybe I can tell her enough to hurt her but not drive her away completely.

She was quiet, in either a very angry way or a cow-like zen contemplation way. But what did she know? How could she have known it?

“I was here,” I half-lie because I was at my apartment for a portion of the night. But not for all of it.

I had only an hour left of assignments to turn in for the seniors’ deadline to graduate. She couldn’t have known that I only worked 50 minutes before turning in my last assignments and leaving my apartment.

She didn’t want to leave last night to hang out with her best friend Sarah, but I made it very clear I would be working until midnight, at least. More than usual, I had to sell her on me being unavailable that night, as if she knew what I had planned. Maybe I did a bad job of believing my own lies. That had gotten me in trouble in the past.

“No, you weren’t here,” she responds quickly.

My roommate was out-of-town, so I knew there was no way for her to visually know that. My parking garage was too big to feasibly surveil to confirm I wasn’t parked where I normally do.

I decide not to double-down on that and fall back onto a chaotic part of my college social group.

“No,” I pause, hoping to draw out a visual cue from her face, some glimmer of hope, of believability, of a willingness to be duped, “I went to Rice to party with Will and his roommates.”

She stares at me with her very angry/zen-like face:

“So, Sarah got sick last night, so I thought I’d come over here to hang out and watch TV instead of going all the way home. Figured I’d just spend the night here. I knocked, but you didn’t answer. I pounded on the door, but you didn’t answer. I had parked next to your truck earlier, and it was gone.”

Huh, she wasn’t initially suspicious of me at all. But her plans had changed. And I wasn’t here. I hadn’t accounted for that happening.

But Will and his motley crew of roustabouts are a perfect cover for why I didn’t pick up my phone last night or answer any of my texts. I had “gotten too drunk,” like I normally do. Plus, I could say I was celebrating the fact that I was finally done with college after 6 long years.

She looks me in the eye and says, “I went to Will’s room afterwards where they were having a party. He and Richard said they hadn’t seen you all night.”

I check her face for a wrinkle. A crack. A twitch. Anything. She’s not calling my bluff this time. There is no way to convince her it is all in her head either.

She had called me around 6:30 in the morning, asking me how my night was, seeing what I would do. I told her that it was fine. Uneventful. The same ol’ bullshit.

“But you weren’t home, though, so where were you? Don’t lie.”

Something in her voice scared me enough to hang up on her.

Something in her voice made me call my much older brother. I never called him, much less for a situation like this.

But the tone ringing for him was that longer international tone, so I hung up, not wanting to bother my busy brother from his investment bankering duties.

I breathed for a second, trying to think of what I needed to be thinking of next. What was my next move?

My phone rang. It was my brother. I had to be quick because I knew I didn’t have much time to explain the whole mess. Do I ask him for a plan of attack? Or just words of wisdom?

“Hey, did you mean to call me?”

I thought about telling him it was just a butt-dial.

“Yep, but I heard the international tone, so I hung up,” I said as nonchalantly as possible.

“Oh, yeah, I’m in Dubai. What’s up?”

I didn’t know what to tell him.

“So I got caught by Emily last night. I don’t know how. I wasn’t cheating on her, but I have been emotionally involved with a married girl in one of my classes. No sex or anything because she also has a kid and all that. But her husband can’t enter the country due to an error on an immigration form, so we’ve gotten really close. But still. I hung out with her and her friends at one of their graduation parties last night, but we got locked inside the library basement while smoking weed. Emily knows something is up and she’s on her way here.

My brother’s side was dead silent. Did I lose him?

“Mason?” I asked meekly.

I heard a long sigh.

“Yeah, well, this is out of your control now. Decisions have been made and there’s no going back.”

I glowered a bit, unsure of what I was expecting.

“What do you care about? Yourself and having this relationship? Or about Emily and her happiness? You know,” he began less half-heartedly, “really and truly what you need to do is — ”

Emily knocked at the front door. I had to cut my brother off. Emily couldn’t have gotten here so fast. She couldn’t be here. But she was. I told my brother that I had go. He didn’t wish me good luck or anything. We just hung up.

“So,” she trails off, “are you going to tell me what happened last night?”

As she paces back and forth in my living room, I don’t know what truth to tell her.

I think about which version of the truth makes the most sense. She knows she will be hurt. But does she know this is the end? I consider the consequences of telling Emily about me and the married girl. I’m worrying so much about what will happen if I tell her about that. I can’t process what my life will be without the highs and lows of being in a relationship with Emily. My world will end. I will have nothing. I will never find happiness again with someone as wonderful and smart and beautiful and magical as Emily. I don’t know what to tell her.

So, I don’t tell her a story of the truth. Some creation with primary & secondary characters and important plot points and flashbacks delineating internal motivations & context. Because it’s not about what happened last night, it’s about what’s been happening for the past few months.

I can’t make a decision about what to say.

So, I don’t.

I look her back in the eyes and just tell her what happened last night.

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I do things. Huge nerd otherwise. Interested in all types of media & creative-ish forms of expressions. Rawr!!

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