My heart beat double time as we were paired in a small group together in class. A handsome face, a genuine chuckle, his dirty Converse. I felt drawn to him in some weird way, and I was convinced he was to me. He thought I was funny and sarcastic. I thought he was talented and amiable.
“He just sincerely seems like a nice guy, you know?” I told my roommate one day. He was awkward, yet charming, and extremely humble considering his immense talent in photography. He made me feel good about myself. He listened to what I had to say. He understood me. Sure, he had a girlfriend. But we had a connection. She was working in Chicago, while he was here finishing up school, and that’s all I allowed myself to know. Why couldn’t we at least be friends?
But one night I saw him dancing with another girl at a bar, grinding and not giving a fuck if anyone saw. He eventually saw me, and we sloppily drunk-danced for a minute until he went back to his friends. This didn’t seem like the guy I fell for, but I told myself I couldn’t blame him for wanting freedom. Deep down I knew something felt wrong, but my grotesque heart still wanted him.
One night, he was a no-show at a bar he said we should meet up at, so I dragged my friends over to his apartment anyway. We danced in his living room, drinking the annoyingly fancy drinks he made for us. Every time I acknowledged his faults in my head, he’d touch my hand, or look at me with his blue eyes while speaking, and I’d forget my hesitations. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. We were just…friends.
He expressed to me his plans to take his photography to another level, his petty judgments on other people, even his promise to marry his girlfriend. I held on to every word, ignoring all the warning signs, just drinking in his conceitedness like a tall class of his shitty mix drinks. It felt strange to talk about his relationship with him, yet have him make me feel like it was me who was the one he wanted.
Over the months, I watched as he disguised his tainted intentions with kindness. I surveyed as he picked out girls in classes, formed some kind of close rapport, and lured her in with his attentiveness and conversation. He tricked them into thinking he cared purely with his persistence. And still, I burned with jealousy. I tried giving him a taste of his own medicine. He noticed.
I remember him turning to me at a bar once, holding his hands out like he was praising my presence, stared into my eyes and said, “Where have you been all my life?”
I should’ve said up his ass.
“Would you have sex with him?” he asked me once.
“Who? Your roommate? Yeah, I mean, he’s fucking hot!”
“Well, what about me? Do you think I’m attractive?”
“Uhh, yeah. Well, I mean, you both have a different kind of attractiveness, I guess.”
“I just wish all these girls would see that he’s not a good person. Well, he’s a good person, he just uses girls for sex, you know?”
I didn’t realize the hypocrisy until much later, but I think I should have asked him to elaborate.
I slipped into my pajamas after a long night out at the bars with him and a bunch of friends. I read the text my friend sent me: “I made it home safely!” I texted her back, and then paused.
I scrolled through my contacts until his name appeared, and began typing with drunken fingers.
“Did you die? You never texted. I couldn’t live without youuuu!”
Within thirty seconds, my phone began ringing with his name on the screen. I answered.
“Are you home? Did you get jumped?! You never texted to tell me you were alive.”
“Oh, well I—”
“Where do you live again?”
He showed up on my doorstep acting like my place was always his destination.
We sat on the couch in my piece of shit apartment, both of my roommates closed in their rooms just a few feet away. We talked for an hour about nothing in particular: resumes, our work experience. It was forcibly formal, especially on my part. I sat there in guilt and lust and anger. He knew I liked him. He knew he shouldn’t be here. But I just couldn’t ask him to leave.
It was a hot spring night, and as the humidity in the apartment rose, I felt the perspiration drip down my back. The smell of dust and old woodwork floated through the air. His dirty blond hair was a bit disheveled, and his bright blue eyes burned into mine.
He put his hand on my leg. My heart leapt from the pits of my stomach to my throat.
We continued talking. I started searching for back doors, a way out of the situation without it getting out of hand. But I found excuses instead: maybe his girlfriend and him had an open relationship? Maybe they broke up and he didn’t tell me? Maybe he just found out he had a deadly disease and only had one night to live and just wanted to spend it warm beside a woman?
I felt his hand move higher up my thigh.
There was a lull in the conversation, and I looked at his lips. I leaned in and kissed them. He instantly kissed back.
“Where’s your room?”
The next morning, I awoke to my cellphone buzzing on my nightstand.
“Probably goes without saying that whatever happened last night should stay between you and I haha.”
That fucker. He would add “haha” to the end of that shit.
“Uhhh, yeah. I think I got that,” is all I wrote back, tears forming in my eyes.
I opened up my laptop and wrote out the night, scene for scene, in a long email to a few of my closet friends.
A few days passed, and I still hadn’t run into him at school. Every day, I walked around in a nauseous haze, freaking out at every corner I turned. I wondered if he felt as repulsed at himself as I did at myself. I met his girlfriend once, for about five minutes, but he planned to marry the girl. But why did I have a feeling that I was the only one who was suffering?
One day I stayed after class to talk to my professor, and was just leaving the building when I saw him walking towards me.
Shitshitshitshitshit. I can’t turn around now. He’s already seen me. Running would just make things more awkward. I’m cornered, I’m cornered!
“Hi.” I wish you were dead.
“What’s up? Haven’t seen you in while.” Did you tell your girlfriend you fucked my brains out the other night?
“Busy taking pictures for the block party.” He pointed to the picture on the newspaper in my hand.
“Ah. Nice.” So we’re just going to pretend this never happened, then? Maybe I’ll try, but I’m not sure it’ll work because my vagina still feels like I took a 50-mile bareback horse ride.
“Well, gotta get to class.”
“Right, see you later.”
A few weeks later, as I was out celebrating a finished presentation with one of classes, I ran into him once again. Another awkward conversation ensued between me, him, a blond girl from my class and a few other friends. I avoided eye contact as much as possible.
As soon as he left, the blond girl from my class turned to me. “OMG, that was soooo awkward. I hooked up with him a few months ago. I didn’t find out he had a girlfriend until afterward.”
“Are you fucking serious.”
I glowered at the door he just walked out of and imagined it brimming with Hell-hot flames. I speculated I wasn’t the only other woman, and now I had proof. He didn’t care for me. I wasn’t his exception.
I took a long swig of my drink, and stared straight ahead.
They’d always fit the bill, the men who I had known to cheat: the ladies’ men, the sleaze bags, the guys who were a bit rough around the edges. But not him, not the nice guy, not the smart guy, not the good guy.
And for giving in, no longer was I the good girl.