I sat with my back against the door. I could hear George Michaels' 'FastLove' playing on the tv on the other side. I was holding my knee's and I looked at my pants that were laying across the floor. I crawled over to them and pulled out my phone. No missed calls. No missed texts. Just the picture of Andy and I as the background. It was from our trip to Starved Rock. It was my first time going. Andy had been there a few times before. He had this red and white striped shirt on that Pablo, his ex-boyfriend, had given to him. "it's just a shirt, Ro'. It doesn't mean anything." That's what he called me. "Ro." It's short for Rodolfo. I wanted to believe him but I saw how closely he took care of that t-shirt. Never allowing me to handle it in the wash and always hanging it up before anything else when he, himself, took it out the dryer. I was always the type of person to throw out anything that an ex had given me. So, I found it hard to understand why he kept it.
He was smiling in the picture and I was kissing his cheek. We got into a fight after that picture was taken. I was tired and wanted to rest for a while but he wanted to keep going. Being in one place for too long was never an easy thing for him to do. He sighed and eventually sat down next to me, checking in with me every couple of minutes to see if I was "ready." After about 6 minutes I still wasn't ready, but I said I was. As we continued to hike, Andy pointed out all the spots where he had hiked before. "And right over there, I jumped from that ledge down to that rock and landed on my feet. I still have the video of it." He tried his best not to say "we" when reliving his memories. And he never said Pablo's name. But I know what he really wanted to say was: "Pablo dared me to make that jump and he didn't think I'd do it. But I did" Andy is a showoff. And since he can't show off in front of Pablo anymore, he had to show off in front of me. "Want me to do it again?" I smiled and shook my head.
I put my phone back in the pocket of my jeans and tossed them back to the side. I stood up. I looked at myself in the mirror. Nearly unrecognizable, I examined the newfound marks on my neck. I slid my fingers across each mark, feeling each bump individually. I turned on the faucet and let it run before taking a handful of water and splashing it on my face. I turned off the faucet and spit a few times watching as my saliva slowly made its way down the drain. I was filled with regret. Anger. Sadness.
The music on the other side of the door faded and I heard footsteps approaching. Two knocks on the door followed. "You almost done in there? I kind of need to get going." his voice was just as foreign as my own reflection. "Yeah," I managed to spit out. I threw on my t-shirt and slid back into my jeans. I secured my belt and felt a pulse in my back pocket. It was Andy.
I got out of work early. It was pretty slow. Dinner at Zella's today?
I pretended, for a minute, that I didn't remember that Zella's was Andy's and Pablo's go to spot before Andy and I got together. Yes, I Instagram stalked Andy before we started dating. He didn't delete all the pictures of Pablo until after we had become official. Even though those pictures were deleted, I still had them in my mind.
I ran the faucet again to prevent the stranger in the next room from hearing my cries. Two more knocks on the door followed. "I really need to get going, I have a meeting." I ignored his request to hurry up and rinsed the tears from eyes. I took a deep breath and unlocked the door. Before I could turn the knob HE opened the door. I say "he" because I didn't get his name. And if I did, I had forgotten it. He walked in looking right past me and he examined the bathroom.
"I didn't take anything" I said as I turned to him, wiping my nose.
"Well some people have in the past. You can't blame me for being careful." he replied with his back to me.
I walked out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. There was still smoke in the air from the weed. The remnants of my relationship with Andy lay broken across the mattress. Our memories. Our fights. Our love. It was all there on a bed that didn't belong to neither one of us. Did I give it away or was it stolen from me? I couldn't bear to be in that house anymore. I ran down the staircase, and He quickly followed.
"So uh, whenever you're free again, just hit me up."
I slipped on my converse looked back and smiled but said nothing. I walked outside and shut the door behind me. Leaving everything I had built with Andy inside. I pulled out my phone and typed out a message to Andy.
'Zella's sounds great, my love.'
I thought about those old pictures on Andy's Instagram. The one with Pablo smiling with a wine glass in his hand. He was sitting across from Andy. Well, I assume he was as Andy was the one who took the picture. I wondered if Andy would take that same picture of me and post it on his Instagram. Well, maybe not after today. or Maybe he would. And he'd probably eventually delete it.
I hated myself. I hated the stranger who's apartment I just walked out of. I hated that apartment, too. I hated the stupid neighborhood I had to walk through to get back to the CTA. I hated that weak ass weed he gave me to smoke. And I hated Andy's shirt. I hated Pablo, too. I hated my insecurities. I hated my insecurities. I hate my insecurities.
I walked to the train fighting the tears that were begging to be let out. How was I going to face Andy with marks on my neck?