Chapter 18: Infinity Line
“We’re free, and what do we do when we’re free? We motherfucking party.”
That’s what Dom used to get all us frat members gathering alcohol, weed, and drugs for a party tonight. Just we party with a beer in his hand and a good for nothing smirk on his face and the entire place drops to its knees because “all hail Dom-the-Dick”. At least he’s finally got the rest of us first-years in order.
Mrs. Morales is gone for one weekend, that’s all it takes for this place to go crazy. The dishes have piled up to the heavens, the floor has accumulated the most trash in existence: spilled condiments and used condoms in places they shouldn’t be, I think there’s even a girl’s weave in the toilet and there are literally no girls here. Nothing makes sense, everything’s in a shambles.
Dom has successfully made the place Dom.
I’m dreading the party tonight. My bulletproof plans are, A, lock myself in my room and, B, lock myself in my room. It wouldn’t dodge a Dom-bullet I guess, but at least I don’t have to see his face. It makes me want to swallow barbed wire or trip over a loaded gun with its trigger pulled. Even worse, it makes me want to willingly crawl into a grave to let the maggots crawl into me.
I watch Brad getting high. He’s gone through so much weed in the past month that if he wasn’t wealthy he’d be beyond broke. I know it’s because of Megan. She’s been banned from campus and this residence for her actions, I just didn’t think Brad would be so affected by it. I guess he actually liked her, and in a way, I took her away from him.
With that thought, I go upstairs and grab my journal. I haven’t written in it since I realized the problematic place I put myself in. I probably should do an entry or two for the receipts in case Tommy ever needs to know the truth, in case I ever need to remind myself. The truth being I’m not a bad person, I’m a good person doing bad things for a good reason. But now that the worst kind of line has been crossed, the I-freaking-like-you-when-I-shouldn’t line, I’m not sure that makes me a good person anymore.
I write all I’m feeling, try to answer how do you go through with something that will hurt the person you have feelings for? and try to comprehend the same thing I’ve been trying to since last year. Why did I have to care about someone I didn’t know and put myself in this situation with Dom?
My gut told me to. I’ve always been a gut person. The heart can’t listen to reason, reason can’t listen to the heart, so it’s gut all the way. I remind myself everything happens for a reason, that we’re all on an infinity line going one of two directions, and whoever pushed us in the direction we’re going did it because there’s someone opposite us we’re just meant to crash into.
But why would fate backhand me into this kind of situation with Dom? And then put Tommy in this situation with me?
Locking myself in my room doesn’t go to plan. I can’t help but think maybe Tommy’s here because maybe Gemma invited him, just like last time. The most I’ve gotten from him in the past month is paranoid glances in class. The anxiety’s probably making him think I’m going to tell someone the truth about him. I hate that I have to go up against something as big as mental health. There’s a solid seventy-five percent chance I don’t stand an actual chance with Tommy.
I find myself downstairs, drowning in the blasting music, bumping into sweaty bodies and questioning my whole existence. I’m here to find absolutely nobody because there’s no way in the universe Tommy would be here right now, in a place with racism, hyper-masculinity, and even misogyny.
By a doorway, I see Gemma. I haven’t seen her in so long, too consumed by college life and drama to remember my closest friend exists. She almost looks out of place being here. She’s not more skin than clothes like the other girls around us, though the baggy outfit aesthetic suits her, and she’s not drinking like she usually does around free alcohol. It’s been so long that I know I can’t just be the cause. She’s either forgotten about me or she’s avoiding me for some reason.
“Gem,” I approach her.
"Shit,” she jolts at my voice but quickly brushes it off with a smile that’s plastic and clearly recycled. “Hi... Shit. Hi, Christian.” I wonder who else she’s faked a smile to recently because she’s never been one to do so.
None of us address how distant we’ve been from each other. Talking about life is too stressful, I wouldn’t even know what to say to her.
“You’re here?” I ask.
She avoids my eyes. “Yeah, yup, here for the free alcohol,” she says, then realizes her mistake. She grabs a cup out of the nearest person’s hand and takes a sip... fakes a sip. She doesn’t even swallow. “Mm, that’s good. Yeah... Love the free alcohol. Always tastes better.”
Whatever she’s hiding, it stings that she’s hiding it from me of all people. Then again I haven’t exactly been there for her lately. Her eyes remain elsewhere but me, though eventually they’re locked on something or someone. When I follow her gaze, it’s obvious she’s staring at Dom who’s on a one-way trip to going ham on alcohol and weed, and I feel it for the leaves that have sacrificed themselves for such a waste of life.
“What’ve you got with Dom?” I say.
“Nothing,” she snaps. “I said I’m here for the free alcohol, okay? Stop worrying.” I hold my hands up and avoid trying to put the pieces together if I could even find them... She’ll talk to me when she’s ready but that doesn’t mean I’m not worried about her.
“Alright,” I sigh. “Where’ve you been?”
“Class, where else?” she answers dryly, half her heart in this conversation. This is not like her. “I’ve also been with Tommy.” She finally looks at me. “What was that shit with Megan last month? I thought you’d be with Tommy by then, you know?”
I cover her mouth as one does when careless words are said in front of an entire fraternity of assholes that could fuck shit up. Making sure no one heard, I remove my hand. I appreciate the blasting music now, that’s for sure.
“You’ve been with him?” I feel a slight rush of jealousy in my chest.
“Yeah, he gives me the time of day unlike you.”
“Okay, don’t act like you didn’t disappear also.”
She gets rid of the cup. “Fair enough.” So, not here for the free alcohol... “Yeah, I disappeared, I wonder why you haven’t noticed. What’ve you got with Dom?”
My eyes widen. “What do you mean?”
"Okay, don’t act like you haven’t been having secret talks with him. I see and I see from afar.”
Gemma will be the unwinding of me, and I of her. Knowing about The Deal will inevitably drag her into problem galore. Dom would screw up her life if she knew anything we’re doing. Knowing could execute the whole deal because it looks like she’s clicked with Tommy and she has the good heart of an angel. Gemma would undoubtedly tell him, then she’d slap me six ways to Sunday for my idiocy.
So I lie. “We’re bros.”
She scoffs like it’s the most unreasonable explanation ever, but honestly, by the end of this, I will be as low as Dom and completely worthy of being his ‘bro’. “I love you,” she says, “I love you dearly, but now you’re just getting irritable. You look like you want to beat him up every time. Don’t lie to my face.”
Now I scoff. “Said the one who just faked drinking alcohol. What are you hiding?”
“I’m not hiding anything.”
"I love you, I love dearly, but now you’re just getting irritable," I mimic her. “You’re hiding something. Don’t lie to my face.”
She scrunches her hand in her hair, frustrated and almost breathless. “Don’t do that,” she struggles out, voice wavering. “We’re not kids anymore.”
I sigh, embroiled with guilt that surpasses the healthy amount. We rarely talk like this, now that we are it feels like I’ve lost myself a bit in the chaos.
That’s it, right? I’m not a crappy person, I’m just a little bit lost...
I change the topic. “How’s Tommy?”
Gemma laughs so emptily if I knocked on her, the sound would be hollow. “He’s neck-deep in anxiety, anything new? This time it seems to be your fault, so again, going back to relevant important matters, what was that with Megan?”
Her suspicious behavior is also important, but for the sake of not having a rocket launcher blow my appreciated face off, I say nothing. I don’t like the new Gemma. She’s glancing at Dom again.
“Nothing,” I mumble, “just a mistake.”
“You know what’s also a mistake? Whatever you’re doing with Dom. Also, don’t put that hand on my mouth again. If you’re gonna be a closet case, let me know beforehand.” When the heck did we take a thousand steps backwards in our friendship? She used to lick said hand.
We both see Dom coming. I’ve gotten used to his sporadic arrivals, but Gemma looks like she’s biting the inside of her cheek to bleed.
“Come,” he tells me, eyeing Gemma up and down for the fun of it. One day I’ll shovel his eyes out and dodge prison. I leave with him hesitantly, looking back to make sure Gemma remains somewhat okay - she’s not. Dom brings me to a corner.
“You know we have a deal.”
“Yeah,” is all I can say. He’s ten times worse when he’s high and drunk at the same time, and the bloodshot redness of his eyes is telling me he’s higher than high on high right now.
“What’s a month to you?” he asks.
“Because a whole month of nothing to me sounds like you’ve gotten lazy and I’m bored.”
He’s made it clear what happens when he gets bored. My whole being is in tar with this, and I’m the thickness of a hair strand close to bailing, nevermind the consequences for myself alongside Tommy. The lump in my throat grows at the thought of enduring those consequences, even more so knowing bad karma’s on the infinity sign heading towards me for all that I’m doing.
I look Dom directly in his eyes. I don’t think I see a soul. “Why are you doing this?”
He gives a dopey laugh, a lopsided smile, but his humored look transitions into something satanic, to be exact. I’ve pressed a button.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Gemma from afar being surrounded by a group of girls, the kind most us frat members don’t associate ourselves with because their souls equally don’t exist just like Dom’s. Gemma used to be the girl surrounded by everyone who loves her, now seeing her I wonder where her friends are and where they’ve been. I wonder where I’ve been.
“Ask that again,” Dom urges, but I’m not playing his sick game. I glance at Gemma a second time and see she’s near to tears. I flicker my attention back and forth between her, the girl closing in on her who then shoves her, and Dom.
“I’m done with this,” I tell him.
He smirks. Looks around. Steps closer to me. “You ain’t done with anything.”
He thinks he can threaten me into a corner, fine, but one day I’ll stop worrying about the consequences because I’ll finally accept there’s no way I’m walking out this chapter in my life without them, no matter the route I take.
Right now, the only thing I’m worried about is Gemma.
“I don’t know why you do what you do,” I say, “but it’s clear your parents didn’t give you enough attention growing up.”
The hate that flashes in his eyes is so vile it looks like it’s been ripped out of a sleep paralysis hallucination. I push past him and get to Gemma.
I don’t even get to open my mouth when the whole place sounds like it’s been dipped underwater after one of the girls screams out everything I realize Gemma didn’t want me to know. But the music goes on, and no one cares, yet I’m desperately just trying to understand why Gemma wouldn’t tell me, why she thought she’d be alone.
Why didn’t she tell me she was pregnant?
It all makes sense now, why she’s drowning in her clothes, why she faked drinking the alcohol, why she’s acting sketchy, why she avoided my eyes, why we’ve taken a thousand steps backwards...
She kept looking at Dom...
It takes me a few seconds to realize my nose is bleeding and the place has gotten awfully louder. I blink away the blurriness that fills my vision and I see Dom. Fists clenched, teeth gritted, seething.
And everyone crowds around us because no one pisses off Dom but I just did.
I don’t like fighting, but I know I have no choice. Somewhere between the punches thrown and Gemma trying to stop us, fate puts me in a dangerous position. Next thing I know, Gemma’s crying out in pain that I’ve caused her, and there’s one thing I don’t understand:
Why were we set to crash together on the infinity line if I was only going to leave her hurt?