“I’m heading out. Are you sure you don’t want to go? It will be fun.” I laugh. Avery, one of my three roommates, asks me that question every Friday and Saturday night and I always say no. I’ve been to two college parties in my three years in college, once freshman year and the second time was Cassie’s birthday party, which I was required to go to. I’m not a big fan of crowds; they make me anxious.
“I’m fine here. Jackson is coming over and we are going to watch a movie and cuddle.” Jackson is my boyfriend of nineteen months. Sara is at a study session and Cassie is spending the night at her boyfriend’s. I get the apartment alone for a few hours. “Call me when you want me to come get you.”
“Okay. See you later.” I watch as she leaves. She’s wearing a romper and sandals, hair wavy, and her make up is dramatic; basically she looks like a runway model. I’m wearing black cloth shorts that barely cover my butt and a navy blue sports bra. I got distracted as I was changing after class today and haven’t felt like getting up to put a shirt on. My hair is in a loose messy bun. I have my laptop on my lap and I’m writing an essay about Maria Montessori. I have Maroon 5 playing and I’m content.
Jackson is coming over in an hour or so and I plan to have my essay done by then.
Half an hour later though, I get a text from him saying he can’t make it, that his roommate is sick and that he wants to stay and help him out. I text him back, saying it’s okay and that he should give his roommate some Pepto-Bismol. With nothing else to do except procrastinate just a tad and finish my essay, I lose track of time and zone out until, as I am sending my essay to the printer, my phone rings. It’s Avery.
“Jeez, already?” I ask myself as I look for my keys; it’s only been like three hours since she left. I answer the phone.
“I’m a little drunker than I thought,” She informs me with a giggle. “I think you should come get me,”
I don’t have an exact address, but I was invited previously by a group of girls from one of my classes, so I know the party is at a sorority house, Tri Delta, I think, and everyone knows where that house is. It’s known for its legendary parties and the fact that three of America’s First Ladies went to this chapter. Let’s just say President’s day is pretty big here on campus.
When I get there, luck is on my side because someone is leaving so I pull into their spot to wait for Avery. Unfortunately, she doesn’t come out and I wait five minutes before calling her. Of course, her phone goes straight to voicemail. I groan, slip my keys into my pocket, grab my phone, and start towards the sorority house.
When I get inside, I check the hallway, then the kitchen to the right, and then make my way to the living room that is bigger than my shared apartment. I spot Avery leaning against a door with some guy. A path appears but as I turn, I’m stopped in my tracks because there, on the couch, is Jackson with a beautiful, leggy blonde in skinny jeans, cowgirl boots, and a tank top that barely covers her chest, sitting on his lap. Jackson has his hand at her throat, trialing them on her neck and cleavage and I think I may get sick.
I know that before confronting him, I need to make sure Avery is safe from the stranger feeling her up, but then I hear him laugh over the music. I spin back around and walk towards them. By chance he looks up, straight at me, and visibly freezes. She looks over in my direction and her face falls, as if she feels bad. Slowly, she moves off of his lap.
“How’s your roommate?” I ask him and he goes to speak. “No, save it. I just want to know one thing. How long?” I hate myself for it, but I know that if he tells me he’s drunk and that this is the first time, that he doesn’t know what is going on, I’ll forgive him. He doesn’t answer me. So, this was not the first time.
“Please, respect me enough to give me the truth,” I say and he flinches.
Jackson stands up and reaches for my hand, my arm, something, but I step back, “Nat, not here, let’s go to yours and-”
“Four months,” Her voice is pretty, and infuriatingly, she isn’t mocking me, or being a bitch, she just says it in a matter of fact tone.
“Four months,” I’m oddly calm. I look at the promise ring on my left hand. He gave it to me on our one year anniversary. “What happened to ‘I promise’?” I ask him, but someone grabs onto my elbow lightly.
“What’s going on here? Are you okay?” A guy asks me, then immediately, “Amber? What are you doing here? I thought you had a study group?” Oddly, I want to laugh. She was cheating too! I turn to the new voice, he’s unrecognizable, but he looks confused and suddenly I don’t care anymore, despite the tears falling silently.
“It seems we’ve both been lied to,” I say and behind the new guy is Avery, looking sober and by the fury on her face, she’s seen this confrontation. “Are you ready to go?” I inquire, she nods and we start to walk away, but I stop again and turn around. Staring into his familiar blue eyes, I unzip the white hoodie and slip it off before throwing it at him, ignoring the whistles and cat calls of the crowd.
“Sweetie, no, keep it. You’ll get sick,” I laugh. Seriously?
“I’ll get sick? Like Adam is sick? You know what Jackson, go to Hell.” I slip the ring off and hand it to him, too. He doesn’t take it so I drop it to the floor in front of him and walk away. This time, I don’t look back. Avery wraps an arm around me and I‘m aware that the tears are streaming down my face at a faster rate.
“Nat, do you want me to drive?” Okay, I need to calm down.
“No, you’ve been drinking,” I say and set the car into reverse to back out of the parking space.
The drive is silent and when we get to the apartment, I take the keys out of the ignition and hand them to Avery. “I’m going for a walk,” I inform her.
“First come upstairs and get a shirt,” she says, gently guiding me towards the door.
Once I’m properly changed, having just pulled on a purple shirt bearing the school’s name printed on the chest in white, I leave. I need wine.