I first saw them in the cafe. The internet lounge suddenly became the red carpet and the movie premiering was called heartache and the stars were Alex and her new boyfriend Antonio. I nodded my head and walked past the theatre. I didn’t need to know right away.
But she told me that evening. We sat in the computer lab, downloading music when she spoke. “You can’t sit there and ignore me. What’s wrong.”
I was visibly pissed I guess. “I’m cool. Just had a long day. Class and all.”
“Well you not acting like it,” Alex replied. She was trying to dig a confession out but I wouldn’t cave. “So I have some news for you. Wanna hear it?”
“I guess I already know, so you don’t have to say it.”
“What is it then?”
“Your titties are still growing. Its not like its a secret. Everybody knows,” I jested.
“Fuck you man. What do you think about it? I mean what do you think about him? Like do you see us as a good fit? Mariah said she don’t like him. Not him, but us.”
“What the fuck does it matter what I think about him?” I changed to a sunnier tone. “I mean you gotta fuck him.”
“Ill. I know. Don’t be an asshole,” she said.
“Kind of hard not to. I’m surrounded by em.” I tried to play along. “He’s a cool guy. We were something like friends in high school. I’m happy for you. If you like it, I love it.”
She shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I guess man. I’m kind of disgusted by him. I get turned off whenever he touches me.”
Gravelly, I replied “Well we reap what we sow.” I didn’t hold back the sour anymore.
“Okay. Thanks for being there for me. Good talk. You’re such a fucking asshole,” she said jokingly.
“Glad you noticed I was there for you before you noticed I was an asshole,” I jabbed back. We sat in silence for a few minutes longer until neither could pretend the mood was fun and departed. This was typical of our interactions for a few days after.
I didn’t sleep well for weeks. Some nights, I just stared into the ceiling, thinking of this and that. I managed to deal with this insomnia by crying myself to bed. Crying yourself to sleep isn’t that hard. I fell dead sleep once the tears started flowing. The hardest part was the build up. The thoughts that bounced through my mind…. I doubted myself and hated my heart for fooling me, but I didn’t want to give in to the pain. I never wanted to admit that I needed that relief, but I couldn’t sleep without it, so there were a few nights I welcomed the doubts that triggered the spring of tears from my eyes.
The worst nights were usually when I had no trouble falling asleep. On these nights, I woke to a recurring nightmare where I relived the moment I saw them in the cafe, him sitting so close she merely breathed his recycled air. I woke to dreams of her leaving me on the dance floor and resurfacing in his arms as he dipped her to the floor. I woke to a numbing fear that I would be alone and I deserved to be alone because I didn’t make my intentions known or stake my claim on the only girl I have ever wanted to be with forever.
I fought hard to not give in to the depression. I didn’t want to be known as the guy who went crazy over a girl he never had. I decided to find someone to love. I broke my love fever by pounding gallons of vodka and pounding random girls here or there. They could never replace Alex in any manner, but if the sex was good, I did manage to forget her temporarily. Still, the thought of her with him sobered me and deflated me. I hated seeing them together and it was his goal to be seen everywhere with her, even if it meant invading my sleeping hours.