Every Friday night, I actually looked forward to watching wrestling, which shocked Tori. We acquired plenty of overtime on those nights since it seemed to be a popular day for people to get sick or have a sudden emergency.
I was happy for the extra time. Partially for my check, partially so I wouldn’t have to go home, but mostly so I could watch Ethan. Normally, we finished our tasks around nine p.m., when nearly all the residents of the ward settled in their beds. Some went to bed as the two p.m. shift change. Boy, I couldn’t imagine going to sleep so early, but it gave me a much-needed break. The one I could never get at home.
2VelvetRose: Time to earn my keep.
I giggled. I laughed easily with Ethan. Talking to him seemed effortless and I was always sad when he had to ditch his phone for some work obligation. I was free to chat back and forth with Ethan at work. I lingered in my resident’s rooms with the door shut, taking my time cleaning up just so I could sneak out my phone. It was against the rules, but I was addicted to the way Ethan made me feel. The more I talked to him, the more I liked him. We talked about movies. We talked about music. We talked about everything but our recent relationships.
I cuddled up on the sofa in the day room and I watched intently. Oh, I loved to watch that man enter the arena. It was a particularly quiet night for once and I didn’t miss a moment.
I cheered him on, entertaining the idea that he and I were good friends. I know that was a silly notion. We only talked online. We’d never met in person and I probably wasn’t the only woman he’d chatted with. We’d only been talking for two months. Surely, I meant something to him or it wouldn’t have lasted past that first night, right?
“Who is that?” I’d caught a glimpse of her the week before, but a busy night had kept me from watching the entire show and I’d missed Ethan’s match. She wore the big, golden belt around her waist, so I figured she had to be important.
“That’s a sorry excuse for a woman’s champion, that’s what that is. I’m sick of this. What’s with the women’s division lately?”
“I don’t know, but Ethan seems to like her.” I was jealous. That woman lingered beside the ring during Ethan’s match and could feel myself turning green with envy. Despite having no reason, I felt that stab of anguish the moment Ethan’s head was turned. “She’s way too young for him.”
“You do know that’s all crap right?” Tori inserted quickly.
“Looks pretty real to me.” I needed to shrug it off. I had to. It was nothing. I had nothing with him, but … what? A couple of Chatter posts? “Geeze why is this bugging me?”
“Because you like him.” Tori used that serious flat tone that I hated. “Take a chance already.”
“Uh, no. I’m with someone.” I used as an excuse. I didn’t want to admit that had already planned meet Ethan because I suddenly felt like a fool.
“It wouldn’t be right.”
“You’re moving in with me this weekend. Brad’s already out of the picture.”
“Brad doesn’t know that yet.”
“So what? You know and that’s what counts.”
“What if this guy isn’t sincere? What if he’s just playing around? That would be so humiliating and then where will I be?”
A loud ear-piercing whine filled my ears and a light illuminated above one of the many doors.
“It’s Dot. I got it.” And Tori bounced away to tend to one of her favorites patients.
I kept my eye on the screen and answered my ringing phone.
“Are you coming home tonight?” I didn’t even get hello out of my mouth before Brad barked.
“I’m working over. I’ll stay at Tori’s tonight.”
“And what the hell am I supposed to do? I haven’t eaten all day.”
“How is that my fault? You’re a grown man and perfectly capable of fixing yourself a meal.”
“That’s what I got a woman for,” He snarled his backward ideas into the phone.
I rolled my eyes. I hated when he spewed old fashioned ideas at me. How he defined a woman’s job and man’s job and then he’d contradict it all when it came to bringing in the money. There were days when he thought I was supposed to do it all. It too much for one person to do.
“Hillary!” He exclaimed. “You need to come home! Now!”
“The shift isn’t over until ten. I can’t just leave.”
“Then come home after.”
“I’m not walking to my car alone that late at night. It’s not like you’re going to meet me at the dock.”
“Why should I? It was fine when you parked it there.”
“I’m surprised you even noticed I’m not there. Don’t you usually spend Friday nights at that shack you call a bar?”
“Why don’t you just pack your shit and get out!” He snapped and the line went dead, but I know he meant it as a threat, only saying it thinking I would run for that dock and beg him to forgive me. Maybe I would have if I was worried about losing him, but I wasn’t worried. Actually, leaving was exactly what I wanted. I think.
Was it fair to dump Brad? Yes, I craved romance and I definitely wasn’t getting that at home. The fire had died out almost as soon as it had sparked, but was that a good enough reason? Because some guy online had given me a little bit of attention? I went over and over my current relationship. Did I have just cause to terminate it? Didn’t I cause many of our fights? Was I petty?
The last couple of months were ten times worse. I was trying to find myself. I was fighting to keep my own identity and I that demanded Brad accept me for who I truly was.
Some days it seemed I was fighting to save my relationship. I felt like Brad had never loved me for me. Stay or go, I just needed to know. Other days I felt like I was fighting to get out and my online association with Ethan was partly to blame for my rejecting behavior.
Each time I spoke with Ethan, I was particularly resentful of Brad’s presence. I spat mean words, instigated more fights than Brad, and I forgot all the original reasons why I had stopped loving him.