I sat on my bathroom floor and debated, with myself, about whether the truth would set me free. I felt the truth, in this case, was more for his sake than mine. Telling him would put things in context: the reason why we were less adventurous, why I woke up in the middle of the night only to disappear, or why I became so closed off. I could not think of a single reason why telling him would give me any relief. I would not feel any better, in fact, I would feel worse. He deserved to know sooner, but there was never a good time for sooner. Then again, there would never have been a good time. I struggle with the idea that if I told him, he would pity me and look at me differently. He could either run or stay, and neither would be because he wanted to, it would be because I forced his hand.
The thought burns like liquor on its way down to the soul. I hug my legs closed to my chest and bury my head in my arms.
I never wanted to be in a relationship, at least not until this was over. I had the support of my brother and my friends, I did not need a stranger to hold my hand or give me false hope because it was polite. It suddenly occurred to me that I was being selfish. Should the roles have been reversed, I would want to know. I would not run or feel forced to stay, I would cherish him as I always have.
I will tell him, I think to myself. I have waited as long as I could, and I do not want to wait any longer, regardless. Chris deserves to know from me, he needs to know so he can make his own choices. This was never about me, it was always about him. This is the right thing to do.
I pick myself off the floor and wash my tear stained cheeks. The water is a reprieve to my dried skin. I walk into my room, grabbing my phone from the charger. I dial Lena, plucking random clothes from my clothes as I wait for a response.
"Hello," says a rather groggy Lena. I hear a deep yawn come through in static bursts.
"I am going to tell him, I just don't know how to do it," I quickly confess.
"Oh, it is that kind of call," I must have grabbed her attention as I hear rustling, I am assuming it is the sound of her getting up. I laugh. "Well, it's not like there is a templet out there for you to follow. You kind of have to dive right in and rip it off like a band-aid."
"That doesn't exactly seem easy," I struggle to balance the phone while putting on a sweater.
"It is not going to be easy, for either of you. Just start off by telling him how you feel and what you see for your future, I know that will be excruciating for you. Then just tell him."
"Okay, and when he starts asking all kinds of questions?"
"Well, you answer them to the best of your ability or tell him that it can be saved for another day. At least he will know," her tone becomes gentle, "I am proud of you."
"Thanks, that's what I was aiming for," I try to be light-hearted as I head out the door.
"Call me afterward or tomorrow, I want to hear all about it."
"Of course, love you," she returns the affection and I end the call.
I make it to my car. Waiting for the heater I unlock my phone to text Chris but as I do it dies. I shrug and plug it into the cigarette port. I guess he will get two surprises tonight, I think to myself.
The snows makes the twenty-minute drive thirty. The whole way I was hyping myself up, in-between singing covers of my favorite songs. When I pull up to his apartment building all the fear and worry has left me. We promised to always tell each other the truth and that is what I am doing, keeping a promise that is bigger than me.
I make my way up the stairs, getting tired after the second flight. When I make it to the third I take a moment to compose myself, once my breathing returns to normal the silence reveals something to me. I hear shouting on the other side of his door. Someone is there with him, a woman.
"I can't believe you!" the woman yells in anger, "That girl will never give you the life that you want."
As much as those words sting, it was nothing compared to what follows.
"Like you have? You come and go as it is convenient to you. I am a human being that deserves better than that," Chris spits toward the woman.
"You are making a mistake," the woman says. The voices being to drown out and the room begins to spin. I slowly make my way down the stairs before sitting on the bottom step.
I had been cheated on before, but this was different. It was as if my heart was tearing apart inside of me. I could feel the pain and it made it hard to breathe or even to cry.
We promised to always be honest, I recall the night we made the promise.
"I don't see why anyone would cheat on you, you are perfect," said Chris, kissing my forehead.
"I could say the same about you," I smile as his stubble brushes against my skin.
"I know we promised to always be honest, but I want to take it a step further," he started.
"Oh," I crease my brow, wondering where this could be going.
"In the unlikely event that there is another woman for me, I will tell you rather than deceive you."
I cannot help but smile, "Same, well except if it were a man not a woman."
We both laugh as we embrace each other, falling asleep.
I make it back to my car, unable to move once inside. Suddenly, my phone alerts me to a new notification.
It is Lena.
Going to bed, let me know you made it safe. Be safe!
I stare at the message and do not reply, unsure what I would even say to her, knowing how she would react.
Before I stow my phone away, I get an idea. I open the messages I have with Chris and type a new one.
I choose my next words carefully, I will know if he is lying to solidify my discovery.
What are you up to?
I try my best to be inconspicuous.
Nothing, I just finish cleaning and I heading to bed. You?
An uncontrollable and inconsolable sob takes ahold of me. I cannot bring myself to respond. He sends me another message to check on my delay.
I ignore it again, throwing my phone to the floor of the passenger seat. I just want to be home, far away from this place.
I drive through the snow and tears, both falling as they please. When I stop it takes me a moment to realize I am not home, rather at Lena's. I make my way to her front door.
I stand there in the cold for a few minutes, knocking, until she final answers. She looks at me shocked, quickly letting me in. I make my way to the sofa, sitting quickly, as she covers my shoulders with a blanket. I think she offers me something to drink, but I do not respond.
Finally, a whisper leaves my lips.
"What?" She turned quickly at me, she isn't sure of what she just heard.
I am silent.
"What did you say, sweetie," her tone is icy yet nurturing, longing for my repetition. She kneels in front of me.
I clear my throat and sniffle back the sobs, "Chris. He has been cheating on me."
As vengeful as I know she can be, she keeps it to herself for the time being. Lena simply embracing me for what seems like forever.
"We won't talk about this tonight. Let's get you to bed and we can deal with this tomorrow, okay?" she tells me as she pulls away. She gives me a reassuring smile and pulls me off the sofa, heading toward her bedroom.
As we walk to the back of her apartment the walls begin to close in. My vision begins to blur, and my breathing becomes shallow. My pace slows, and she turns to me, her smile fading to panic. I feel myself swirling down, my knees smacking the hardwood. Lena pulls my shoulders toward her, leaving my head to hit rest in her neck as she follows me down. I can hear her voice faintly; her tone is full of distress. She carefully lays me on the ground and runs into her room, promptly returning with her phone.
As she makes her way back toward me, I am hit with a wave of comfort; nothing hurts anymore. I close my eyes and gladly let me the dark take me to its peaceful corners.