a fictional short story
topic: relationships, partying, friends
please feel free to share your comments/critics/concerns, i’d like to grow as a writer
the morning after
A memory of vagueness now creates an uneasy feeling in my chest. It’s 10:17am and I’ve just awoke from someone mowing grass. Oh the responsibilities of home ownership; can never escape that sound of humming. I guess us neighbors can’t really either. Luckily, I still rent. Walking slowly in this humid apartment, I drink day old water from the bottle I got at the party last night. The water is refreshing. Last night. What a surreal party. Groups of random people who come together because we all share one friend, Eric.
who are you?
There is energy all around this place. Loud chatter, laughter and music seem to weave into each other like a nice soundtrack to a good time. I’m drinking something very fruity and delicious. Lisa’s next to me and I lay on the side of her right arm just talking about shit that doesn’t really matter. We smile and I remember thinking, “Man, I love her. I’m so freaking happy and grateful she’s my friend.” Just then the music changed and a bunch of us started to dance. Most of us jumping up and down to be a part of the rhythm. I was among a big group of us laughing and swinging each other as we held onto one another in a failed attempt at a circle. The lights dimmed. Was it like this the whole time? I close my eyes for a second. Then I feel someone kissing my cheek and it’s Eric. I open my eyes and think how odd this was. Then he kissed me again, but on my neck. The moment sort of slowed down quite a bit and the chatter, laughter and music paused on repeat like how a record player gets stuck on a broken record. I gently pushed him away and said, “We can’t.” I am with someone else. I have a boyfriend.
We have been friends for a really long time. The exact moment of how we met is lost on me. This occurs with most friends I’ve known since pre-teen age. Our parents became friends from friends of friends. Then us kids all started to hang out when the mommies and daddies had fun time without us; talking about finances or homes or cooking; I’m not sure. Me, I had fun playing video games and card games. We’d teach each other all sorts of games we learned from kids at school or cousins. Eric was a year older than me, so that felt like a big difference in my mind. That’s like a whole grade higher than me! But age didn’t seem to matter in terms of us playing with each other and what shows we watched. Him and I created nicknames for all our friends and ourselves. I named him Sour Patch and he named me Starburst. We laughed about stupid jokes and would repeat said jokes at gatherings. Having fun was so easy.
I always knew
Fast forward to senior year of college. Eric had already graduated a year before and was now an unemployed person in the “real” world. He was visiting my school to see his friends and decided we should catch up. We were sitting on my cheap couch and he was explaining to me how different he felt not being in college anymore. How the world is much more open and unpredictable than it used to be. I told him about how I didn’t feel quite ready to leave, but that I don’t think it’d be too bad. He asked, “So, are you seeing anybody?” I simply replied yes. He was someone I met in my apartment building and he lived two floors below. Talking about relationships with Eric felt so unnatural. I always knew there was something different between us. Maybe it was fear or maybe I didn’t feel the same way. Either way, I never told him what I thought.
As nervous as I was, I needed to find him. I walked all around the apartment and even checked the bathroom. Loads of people were smiling and connecting. I knocked on a closed door and there was he was. Laying on the bed with a video game controller playing something I don’t know the name of.
“Hey, are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He replied.
I walked closer to him and he sat up. I sat next to him.
“What was that?” I asked.
He looked at me and looked down. He was focusing on the game controller and the music from the game was become irritating with its repeated melody.
“Can I shut this off?” I asked.
He nodded affirmative. The room became quieter and the rhythm of the chatter, laughter and music of the party vibrated along the walls. I could hear Lisa laughing so loud and saying “Yeah!” But in this room, there was silence. My heart felt heavy and tight. I was afraid of what he was going to say. I was afraid of what I was expected to say.
“I really like you. I liked you for a long time, but I never knew how you felt,” he said.
I never wanted to hurt his feelings.
I said, “I really like you, too and I care about you. But you’re my friend. You know I’m with someone.”
He’s one of my oldest friends.
“I don’t know. I thought maybe you liked me too,” he persisted.
“Maybe I did when we were kids, but I don’t anymore. I’m with someone I could marry,” I exclaimed.
Eric dropped his game controller on the ground. Got up from the bed and walked out of the room.
I took a deep breath and sighed.
I wonder about this specific time. I reflect about it sometimes. If things were handled differently or if words were shared earlier. I wonder if we were truly friends at all. Or if we were to end up together, but were playing stupid games. But now I don’t know him. We don’t talk or go to mutual gatherings. Like chess, him and I played all the moves we could and now we can’t go back. Now we’re in stalemate, unless we start a new game or go play another.