This is a long read, so if you don't have a bit of time to read it, you'll need to come back later. I did this as a class assignment. Althouigh I got a high B on it, it is unfinished. I would like to expand on it alot more, but am very stuck. If anyone would like to give me feedback, critism, and/or suggestions, I will gladly take them!! Anyway, please read and let me know!!
I walked slowly up the stairs of my apartment building. Each step felt as though a cinder block was added to each leg. By the time I reached my door, I was so tired and weak that I dropped everything I was holding in my arms. I looked and watched as my purse, keys and papers fell in slow motion like in a movie. I just stood there staring at everything for a moment and then the tears begin streaming down my face. Silently crying, I picked up only my keys and unlocked the door. I turned on the hallway light. The entranceway lit up brightly, causing me to blink rapidly. I used my foot to push my purse and its contents along with the papers that scattered about when they floated down to the floor. I put my keys in the shallow turquoise bowl on the hall table and left everything on the floor as I made my way to the couch. “This has got to be the worst day of my life” I said out loud. The only breathing creature to hear me was my four year-old Siamese cat, Brutus. I sat down next to him and laid my head against the back of the couch, wiping away the tears that stained my face. “What else can possibly happen?” I asked Brutus as I scratched him behind his ear, persuading him to lie down on my lap. Turning my head, I noticed the blinking light on my answering machine. I flopped my hand down on it and was lucky enough to hit the play button this time.
“Hi Patricia, It’s Sandy. I know I’m the last person you want to hear from, but it’s about Eddie. Please call me back as soon as possible. It’s urgent. ”
I sat there for a moment, staring blankly at the machine. “Who in the hell does she think she is calling me?” I thought back to the conversation between us in my office earlier that day.
“Hi, Patricia, are you busy?”
“Well, hi. No, come on in Sandy. I’m surprised to see you here. You never come by and see me in the middle of the day. What’s up?”
“I need to talk to you about Eddie.” she said as she sat down.
“Ok, what about Eddie?” I stopped what I was doing to give Sandy my attention. She never wanted to discuss Eddie. Ever since we started dating two years ago, she has acted as though she hated him.
“I don’t know where to start. This is really difficult. I’m only telling you because you are my best friend and deserve to know. I know Eddie won’t tell you himself.”
“Oh, great, here she goes on one of her tirades again,” I thought to myself. “Listen, Sandy, I know you don’t like Eddie. I don’t know why, but ever since we started dating you have had it in for him. If you are going to tell me that he’s fooling around with other women, then just save it. I don’t want to hear about it.”
“It’s not exactly what you think it is.” Sandy said. You could hear the pain in her voice. This was obviously something very hard for her to do, but I wasn’t sure I really wanted to hear it.
“Not exactly?” I repeated. “Ok, go ahead. I’ll listen.” I sat back in my chair and waited.
“Do you remember when you told me that Eddie wasn’t feeling well, and the two of you were fighting about whether he should go to the doctor?” I nodded. “And he finally gave in and went?”
“Yeah, I remember. What does that have to do with anything?” I was still a little irritated that this conversation was even taking place.
“Eddie called me today and told me he needed to talk to me, so he and I met for coffee. He said when he went to the doctor, they ran some tests to rule things out and one of the tests was for HIV.” She stopped for a moment. She could see the color draining from my face. She waited for a sign from me to continue.
I sat there staring at her, feeling like an anvil had just been put on my chest. I held on to the arms of my chair afraid that I was going to collapse. “Go on,” I said weakly.
“He said the test came back positive and his doctor told him he needed to contact everyone that he has had a sexual relationship with and have them get tested. Patricia, Eddie is HIV positive.”
I just sat there, not knowing what to think, and she continued, “He said he didn’t know how to tell you. He said he loved you and couldn’t imagine life without you.”
“So why did he come to you? Why ask you for advice when he knows you can’t stand him?” I asked. Sandy dropped her head and couldn’t look me in the eye. Then it dawned on me, “You slept with him, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?” I screamed at her. “You bitch. All this time you pretend to be my friend and you sleep with my boyfriend.” Damn it! This is so cliché, I felt like I was a jilted lover in some sappy romance novel. This just pissed me off even more. I was on a rampage now. “Get the hell out of here. I don’t ever want to see you or hear from you again!”
My rage was so out of control, I did the unthinkable; I threw the first thing I reached for, a silver and crystal clock that Eddie had given me when I got my promotion last year. It missed Sandy by mere inches, but she clamored for the door just as quickly. “Get the hell out of here,” I continued to scream even after she was already gone. I suddenly felt sick and raced to the bathroom. It seemed like forever that I was in there, but when I came out I was completely numb. I sat down at my desk and put my face in my hands. “This is just a bad dream,” I told myself. “I’ll wake up and Eddie will sleeping next to me and I’ll realize this was just a bad dream.”, though I knew it wasn’t. For the next hour I tried to concentrate on work, but couldn’t. I couldn’t get the image out of my head of my best friend and my boyfriend in bed, hands and lips kissing and touching everywhere. I had to leave. I shut down my computer and told my secretary, Allison that I was sick and going home. I drove around for the next three hours. I didn’t want to go home to the apartment Eddie and I had shared for the past year. A part of me wanted to go to the nearest bar and get completely hammered, but logic took over, so I just drove. I didn’t have a destination in mind, just went where my car took me.
I heard a knock on my door, and I came out of my flashback. I got up from the couch and headed toward the door. I stopped and looked in the hall mirror to check myself. Blood shot eyes, tear stained face, yup, I looked the same as I felt. I went to the door, my hand on the handle, “Who is it?” I called out.
“Patricia, it’s me Sandy. I know you told me to leave you alone, but this is important. Just give me a second, and I then I will leave.”
Sighing, I opened the door. “What?” I asked in a cold voice.
“I know you hate me right now. You have every right to, but I needed to see you. The police said they had been trying to call you at your office all afternoon and here at home.”
“The police? Why would they be trying to get a hold of me?” I asked, confused.
“They didn’t say. They just asked me if I knew how to get a hold of you. They asked if I knew Eddie.” Just then the phone rang. I went to answer it, leaving Sandy by the open door.
“Patricia, it’s Eddie’s dad, Tom. There’s been an accident. Eddie crashed his car. Can you come to the hospital?” Suddenly it didn’t matter how angry I was. Eddie was hurt, and in spite of his fling with Sandy, I did love him. I couldn’t just shut that off, even though I wanted to.
“What hospital?” I asked through the new sheet of tears I hadn’t realized had started.
By now, Sandy had come in and was standing next to me. I listened for a moment longer and then hung up the phone. “They took him to St. Mary’s.” I said in disbelief.
“Grab your purse. I’ll drive.” We headed out the door and got in Sandy’s car.
“How did the police know to find me through you?” I asked, suddenly realizing that they had contacted her trying to find me.
“You have me down as your emergency contact at work, and I guess your boss gave them my name and number,” Sandy replied. The rest of the ride was made in silence. When we got to the hospital, Sandy barely had the car stopped, and I was out the door. I raced through the emergency room door and found the nurses station.
“My boyfriend was brought in earlier. Edward Thompson.” I said to the nurse standing there.
“Are you family?” She asked.
“No, I’m his girlfriend. Is he here?” The nurse looked down at her clipboard.
“I’m not allowed to divulge any information to anyone except for family, but if you like you can wait in the waiting room, and I will see if the doctor will talk to you.” By this point, Sandy had parked the car and came up behind me and put her arm around me. I immediately stiffened.
“I appreciate that you drove me here, but nothing can change the fact that you slept with my boyfriend.
As I rounded the corner, I saw Eddie’s mom and dad sitting there. They looked up and I ran over to hug his mom. “Is there any word yet?” was all I could ask.
“Not yet,” his dad said. “He’s in surgery right now, but no one can tell us what is going on.” We waited for what seemed like hours when the doctor came in.
He looked at Eddie’s parents and asked if he could speak with them for a moment in private. “If it’s alright with you, doctor, I would really like Eddie’s girlfriend here with us. She’s like one of the family.”
“Very well.” The doctor replied. “Eddie sustained massive injuries to his head. There was a lot of internal bleeding. We did everything we could to stop the bleeding, but the damage was far too great. I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, but your son didn’t make it.” I slowly sank to the chair. I could hear the doctor shouting for the nurse, and the frenzied commotion next to me, but I couldn’t help. I just sat there, not believing what I had just heard.
“Patricia?” I heard my name, but just looked up with blank eyes. Sandy was sitting next me, crying. I felt her put her arms around me and just hold me. I let her. She said something about making a phone call and she’d be right back.
“C’mon, Patty, let’s get you home.” I felt strong arms helping me up and realized my brother Matt was there. Sandy must have called him. Still in shock, I let him lead me out to his truck. I sat in the cab and saw him talking to Sandy briefly before getting in. “Ok, kiddo let’s get you over to Mom and Dad’s. They want you to spend the night there in case you need anything.” Matt said as he started the truck and backed out of the parking spot. I just sat there staring out the window in disbelief.
As we pulled into my parents’ driveway, I saw Dad waiting for us. “Daddy” was all I could say as he opened the door and wrapped his arms around me.
“Shh. Don’t worry about it right now, just come inside.” He replied as we headed in. I hugged my mom and let her lead me to the couch so I could lie down. I laid there and listened as Matt filled them in.
“There was too much internal bleeding. The doctors couldn’t stop it in time. Mrs. Thompson passed out. I think they were planning on keeping her overnight.” Keeping her overnight was the last thing I heard before I finally fell asleep.
I woke to the smell of coffee and the sound of Kenny Wayne Shepherd playing his bluesy tunes on the stereo. If Kenny was playing, Dad must have already left for work. I walked out to the kitchen to find Mom reading the morning paper at the breakfast table.
“Hi Sweetie, how are you feeling?” she asked as she got up to get me a coffee mug.
“I’m not sure yet.” I replied as I sat down. Mom set the coffee down in front of me. “Thanks.” I said.
“I spoke to Mr. Thompson this morning. He said he has already started making arrangements for Eddie’s cremation.” I could tell Mom was uncomfortable with the thought of someone she knew dying. She had always been that way. “He said he and Mrs. Thompson both would like you to be included in the scattering of his ashes, but only when you are ready and want to.
“Eddie had it in his will that he wanted to be cremated and didn’t want a service.” I said absently. We both had the same ideas about death. Die, be cremated and instead of a service, have a party to celebrate our lives. “Mom, is this really happening? Yesterday morning, everything was fine. Eddie was fine. We even talked about going camping next weekend. Now he’s…he’s…” I couldn’t bring myself to say dead.
I know sweetheart, I know. It’s hard to believe.” She held my hand. “Sandy has called four times already today. She is really worried about you.”
“I don’t want to talk to Sandy right now, Mom.” I said quickly.
“Honey, she’s just worried about you. You two have been friends for eight years. I don’t know what is going on between you and it is none of my business, but you need her right now.” I knew Mom wasn’t going to let up, but I wasn’t ready to share yesterday’s conversation with yet.
“I know you’re right.” I said. “I guess I am still in shock.” As if on cue, the phone rang.
Mom got up to answer it and then turned to me, “It’s Sandy. She would like to come over.”
“Tell her to go ahead and come over. I’m going to take a shower.” I got up and walked towards the bathroom.
I stood under the hot water for what seemed like an eternity, letting the water run down my shoulders and the curves of my body wishing it would wash away yesterday from my soul. Thirty minutes later, the shower doing little to make me feel better, I walked back out to the kitchen to find Mom and Sandy sitting at the table talking. As soon as Sandy saw me, she jumped up and came over to hug me. The cold look on my face stopped her.
“How are you feeling?” she asked, keeping a respectable distance from me.
“I’ll be ok.” I replied more rudely than I meant. I sat down and began to put my shoes on.
“What are you doing, Patricia?” my mom asked when saw me.
“I need to go home and take care of Brutus.” My mom started to object, but I cut her off. “Mom, I love you, but I can’t hide out here forever. I can’t change what has happened. I’m upset. I love Eddie, but I can’t and won’t let his death cripple me.” I walked over and kissed her cheek and gave her a hug. I didn’t want her to know that I really just wanted to be alone. “Thank you for letting me stay last night.”
“Oh, sweetie, you know you can stay here anytime you want to.”
“Sandy, would you give me a ride to my apartment?”
Sandy stood up. “Of course I will. I’d be happy to.”
I kissed my mom one last time and headed out the door without another word. I got in the passenger side and as I put my seatbelt on, Sandy started to speak. I simply looked at her, “Don’t. I can’t hear any of this right now. I don’t want to hear how sorry you are. I don’t want to know when, where or why. We’ll have time to talk, but not right now. I am very upset and I don’t want to say something I will regret later. I will get the answers I need. Right now I just need to be alone to sort things out in my head. I would appreciate you giving me the space and time I need to deal with this.” I turned my head to look out the window. Sandy just drove, not knowing what to say.
We pulled up to my apartment building, and as I started to get out, I leaned back in and thanked Sandy for the ride. “If you need anything, please call me.” She said as I closed the car door. Here I was, walking back up these same stairs, feeling worse than I did the day before.
As I unlocked the door and let myself in, I could hear Brutus making noise in the bedroom. I flipped the light switch on and noticed an envelope sitting on my pillow. I walked over and picked it up. I sat down on the bed, opened the envelope and pulled out a letter. It was from Eddie. I began to read:
“Dear Patricia, I knew from the moment I saw you that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. I knew I wasn’t good enough for you, but was willing to spend my life trying to make you happy. I obviously failed at that. I know Sandy has talked to you by now. I am so very sorry for what I have done to you. I also know that won’t take the pain away. I tried to justify my betrayal, but couldn’t. I would rather die than see the pain I caused in your eyes. I am a coward, I know. You are a wonderful woman that deserves much more than I could have ever given you. You are strong and a survivor. I know you will be ok. I will always love you, Patricia.
I sat there for a moment, and started to cry softly. I picked up the phone and dialed.
“Dr. Carson’s office. May I help you?” A female voice asked on the other end.
“Yes. I need to make an appointment.”
It has been two weeks since I hung up on Dr. Carson’s nurse. I thought back to that day.
“Dr. Carson’s office. May I help you?”
“Yes, I need to make an appointment.”
“I can certainly help you with that. Can I have your name, please?” I sat there holding the phone in my hand, unable to speak. “Madam?” still silence. “Madam, are you there?” The nurse asked again.
“I’ll need to call back” I said quickly and hung up the phone. I sat there on the bed, wondering what I was doing. “I can’t go to Dr. Carson. He’s been our family doctor for as long as I can remember.” I decided to wait until I figured out what I was going to do. I thought about stopping by the office and try to get some work done. It was Saturday and rarely ever would you find anyone there. Especially my boss, Mr. Traven. Mr. Traven is a great person, but if he knew what was going on, he would make me take some time off to grieve. I could hear him now, “I can’t have my best designer under the weather right now. Go home, take care of yourself, and come back in a few days.” Everything was under the weather with Mr. Traven. Whether you were sick, depressed or having a bad hair day. I remember when I first met Mr. Traven. He came to my college looking for people to recruit. I was lucky enough to be offered an internship with Traven and Cooms that day. This company was the most sought after graphic design company in the west. Anyone would be lucky to work there. So, I started during the middle of my junior year as an intern and worked there through the rest of college. I had a job for the taking following graduation. It was a deal I couldn’t pass up. That’s where I met Eddie. He was the computer maintenance guy. It was love at first sight. At least it was for me. He came over to install some new software in my computer.
“Hi. I’m here to install a new anti-virus program on your computer. Is now a good time?” he asked with an accent so thick you could slice a knife through it.
“Ah…ah, yeah. Sure.” I stammered. Yeah, sure? What was wrong with me? I was acting like a teenager after the hottest guy in school said hi. “C’mon, Patricia”, I told myself. You are 22 years old. Start acting like it. I felt the red blush creeping up my face. I felt so hot that I was sure Eddie could feel it too.
“So, how long have you worked here? I’ve never seen you before.” Eddie’s voice brought me back to reality.
“What? Oh. I started as an intern a little over a year ago, but officially started as a graphic designer three weeks ago.” I smiled at him.
“Cool. How do you like it so far?” he asked as he continued on his task.
“I like it a lot. Mr. Traven is great. There is a lot of variety here.” The warmth of my skin was lessening, so I knew my face was beginning to return to somewhat of a normal skin color.
“Ok. There you go. You are up and running.” Eddie smiled at me and I saw that smile move into his turquoise eyes.
“Thank you.” As I watched the back of him walk to the door. He stopped and turned around.
“What is your name? He asked.
“I just wanted a name to go with those beautiful dimples I hope to see again.” He winked at me as he walked out. So much for the blushing going away I thought as I melted into my chair.
Brutus startled me as he jumped up on the couch and began to rub against my arm. “I know. You must be hungry, right?” I asked him as though he could actually answer me. “Meow.” He answered. That memory felt like it happened so long ago, even though it had only been a couple of weeks. I sat on the couch, my long legs tucked under me with the phone book in my lap. “I’m losing my mind.” I confirmed to myself as I thought about how often I wake up during the night from bad dreams. I flipped open the phone book, on a mission to find two numbers. The first one, a doctor or someone that I could go to and get tested without worrying that anyone might recognize me. The second, some kind of therapist. I found the number for county public health. Ok, try them first. I dialed the number and listened to the ringing of the other line.
“Public Health.” I heard the voice say.
“Hi. I was wondering if you do STD testing there.” My voice sounded foreign to me as the words spilled out of my mouth.
“Yes, we do. Do you need to get tested?” The soft voice on the other end of the line sounded kind and compassionate.
“Yeah…I think I do.” I fought back the tears that wanted to be set free. “Do I need to make an appointment?”
“You can either make an appointment, or just come in during the hours of seven and eleven am or one and four thirty pm. Do you know where we are located?”
“I think so. You are located at…” I looked at the address listed in the phone book, Fourteen twenty one Oak Street?” I asked as I recited the address back.
“Yes. Did you want to make an appointment then or just come in?” The voice asked.
“I think I will just come in.” I didn’t want to set the appointment in stone, in case I chickened out. “Thank you for your help.” I replied before hanging up the phone. The next number I looking for was for a mental health clinic. If I was going to get through this, I was going to need someone professional to talk to. I found a number for a Dr. Alexander Wilson. As I dialed the number, I thought about what I was going to say. I couldn’t exactly say my boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend, discovered he was HIV positive and then died. They would lock me up and never let me out.
“Dr. Wilson’s office.” I heard a male voice say.
“Hi. I would like to find out about making an appointment to see a therapist.” I replied.
“Okay, I can help you with that. I just need to ask a few questions and then we can get you set up with an intake appointment.” He sounded very young but completely professional. “Have you ever been seen at our clinic before?”
“No, I haven’t.” I answered.
“Alright. Can you tell me a little about what is going on that you feel the need to come in?”
“Well, I don’t know exactly how to describe what is going on. A couple of weeks ago, I had some traumatic events happen in my life that seem to have taken over me. I can’t sleep without having nightmares. I think I hear someone talking to me. In a nutshell, I think I am going crazy.” That was the easiest way to describe what I was feeling.
“Okay.” The voice said as though it came as no surprise to him. “Are you currently taking any medication? Do you feel depressed all the time? Are you having any thoughts about suicide?”
“The only medication I am on is birth control pills… Ortho Tri Cyclen. I feel depressed all the time now, and no, I don’t have suicidal thoughts. I have dreams where I die. Does that count?” I asked.
“No, I don’t think so.” He was quiet for a moment, though I could hear his fingers tapping on the keyboard. “I can get you in for an intake on this Thursday at two thirty. Would that work for you?” He waited for my reply.
“Yeah, that should work.” I said. So he took down my name and other information before we got off the phone.
“We have you set up for Thursday, March sixth at two thirty. Do you know where we are located?”
“No, I’ll need directions.” I wrote down the directions as he recited them. “Okay. Thank you. I’ll see you on Thursday.” I said as I hung up the phone. The next thing I knew I had to do was talk to Sandy. I wasn’t looking forward to this, but I knew that if there was any chance of salvaging our friendship, I was going to have to hear her out. I picked up the phone again, and dialed her number. It rang three times before her answering machine picked up.
“Hey, this is Sandy. I’m not home. Leave me a message.” Beep.
I took a deep breath. “Hi Sandy. It’s Patricia. I was calling because we need to talk. Call me back when you get this.” I hung up the receiver before I chickened out and said never mind.
I went to the kitchen to make some lunch, even though I really wasn’t hungry. I was sitting at the table thinking about Mr. Traven telling me to take a few weeks off to grieve. I had two weeks of paid vacation I could use, and Mr. Traven gave me the third week as personal time. I was just finishing up lunch dishes when the phone rang.
I picked up on the third ring. “Hello?”
“It’s Sandy. I got your message.” I hadn’t realized how strange it had been not hearing Sandy’s voice for two weeks. We used to talk every day.
“Can you come over tonight so we can talk?” I skipped the formalities. Just straight to the point.
“Sure. Are you ready to talk to me though?” She asked.
“I need to heal and part of that is hearing you out and see if we can get past this.” I sounded like someone other than myself. “I have already lost one person I love, I’d like to try and keep the other one.”
“What time do you want me to come over?” She had nothing to add. She was just grateful that I was willing to talk to her.
“Is six thirty ok?”
“Yeah. I’ll be there at six thirty. Do you want me to bring anything?” She asked before we got off the phone.
“No. Just come over.” I replied. I had decided that no matter how angry I was, I owed it to our friendship to hear her out, even if it was only going to be one side. Eddie wasn’t here to share his side.
I was in the kitchen when I heard the knock on the door. I opened the door and saw Sandy standing there looking haggard and exhausted. The dark circles under her eyes and tired skin made her look like she was fifty rather than twenty six. “C’mon on in,” I said moving aside so she could pass. “You look like you haven’t been sleeping at all.”
“We could pass for twins then. Your dark circles match mine.” She smiled as we headed toward the couch.
Sandy sat down in her usual spot on the couch. “I’ll never understand why that is the only spot on my couch you ever sit.” We used to joke about it all the time and I finally made a sign one day that said “Sandy’s Spot” and tacked it on the wall above the spot.
We both sat there staring at each other for a moment, unsure who should start and what should be said. “Patricia…” Sandy started nervously, and then stopped. “I had this day completely figured out for the past week. What I would say, how I would start, everything. And now I just have a jumble of words in my head.”
“Well, let me make it easy for you. How long had you and Eddie been sleeping together?” I asked. Might as well be straight to the point.
“That’s the thing, Eddie and I never actually slept together.” I looked at Sandy like her head had just detached from the rest of her body and spun around.
“What??” I wasn’t sure I heard her right. “What do you mean you and Eddie never slept together? What didn’t you tell me that when I accused you?
“Would you have believed me if I had?” She looked at me with a skeptic eye. “I mean, think about it. I had just told you that your boyfriend tested HIV positive, which meant he cheated on you. He came to me, which didn’t make sense considering how I felt about him. And…” Sandy paused for a moment.
“And what?” I asked when she didn’t respond right away.
“I wasn’t lying when I said that we never slept together, but something did happen.” She waited for me to absorb this information before going on. “Before you and Eddie met, he dated my sister Kimberly off and on for about a year. In that year, he cheated on her a lot. Every time they had a fight, he would go off and pick up some stranger. That is why I never liked him. Guys like that never change. I knew he would cheat on you too. In my defense I did try to tell you once, but you were so crazy about him, you wouldn’t listen.”
“I remember that. I had just gotten into a big argument with Matt about him, and I just didn’t want to hear anything else. But I don’t understand. If you didn’t sleep with him, why couldn’t you look at me when we talked that day?” I was more confused now than before. Sandy has always been honest with me about everything, especially when it came to guys.
“I couldn’t look at you because I felt guilty. Here I was, hating your boyfriend, when I was just as bad as he was. Remember when Todd and I broke up?” I could remember that day as clear as glass. Sandy and Todd had been dating since high school and were inseparable by the time Sandy and I met in college.
“I remember you were devastated and said you just wanted to be left alone so I didn’t come over.”
“Yeah, but I decided to drink him away, so I went down to Mario’s and started doing shots of Jack.” Mario’s was a local bar that we always went to when we wanted to go dancing and drinking. “Well, Eddie had come in while I was there, and he came over. By then I was on my fifth shot of whiskey and third beer. On an empty stomach, I was pretty toasted. He asked if I was okay. He really seemed concerned. We actually had a decent conversation. By the time the bar was closing, I couldn’t even walk, so Eddie said he would help me home. When we got back to my apartment, I couldn’t even find my keys, so Eddie went into my purse to find them. He found them and a picture of Eddie, Kimberly and me from when he was still dating Kimberly. He asked why I still had that, and I slurred the words out so badly I didn’t think he had understood. You see, when he and Kim first started dating, I had a huge crush on him, and it never really went away.”
“So, let me see if I got this straight.” I interjected hotly, my anger starting to build again. “Your sister dated my boyfriend, before I was in the picture. You had a crush on him, hated him for cheating on your sister, and still had a crush on him while I was dating him? Is that right?” I was really starting to get tired of this ridiculous soap opera forming around my life.
“And I am suppose to believe that you didn’t sleep with him that night?” I looked her straight in the eye.
“Let me finish, please. Eddie was surprised to hear me admit that I had had a crush on him, but wasn’t listening when I told him I didn’t feel that way now and hadn’t in a long time. He helped me to the couch, and asked if I would be ok. I started crying about Todd, and so he stayed. He put his arm around me to comfort me, and started telling me how lucky any guy would be to have a woman like me in their life. He was so sweet and saying all the right things to make me feel better. It just felt right when he leaned in and kissed me. It had been a long time since Todd had kissed me like that, I just felt hungry for the touch. Not Eddie’s touch, just a man’s touch. I wanted more. I wanted to feel like I could turn a man on, arouse him and make him want me. We were on the couch and he had my shirt off when I realized through my alcohol induced mood that what we were doing was wrong. I pushed him off of me and made him leave.” Sandy stopped while she wiped the tears away. “I know the damage is still just as bad, but my guilt was why I couldn’t look you in the eye.”
I sat there, dumbfounded. Someone must have punched me in the gut, because it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see clearly through the tears in my own eyes. A part of me didn’t want to believe her, but a bigger part of me knew she was telling me the truth. There was so much about Eddie that I had discovered in recent months that hearing this really didn’t surprise me. “Sandy, do you remember what I said the day we met our freshman year at college?”
“Yeah, I ran into you, knocked our books out of our arms and you said, if I ever did that again in the next fifty years of our friendship, you would kick my ass.”
“Not that, “I said smiling. “The part about if I ever did anything stupid or dated the wrong kind of guy, you needed to tell me?”
“Oh yeah, I remember that too.” She said as she tilted her head as though trying to remember my words.
“We have been through so much in the last eight years, me and you. All my boyfriends, our jobs, drunken parties where you dance on the bar…” I said laughing.
“Hey now, you don’t need to remind me of that. Besides it only happen twice!” Sandy retorted as we both laughed at the memory.
“I wish you had tried to tell me this before. I hate being mad at you. You are my best friend. I can’t imagine my life without you in it.” I moved over and sat next to Sandy. “I’m sorry that you went through that with Eddie. There are things I could tell you about that would surprise you about him. A part of me is angry that you encouraged him, but a bigger part of me is angry at Eddie for taking advantage of you that night. This does explain a lot of things. Eddie had problems, like staying faithful and being honest. But he also had some great qualities too, like being loving and supportive. He was responsible and helped around the house. And he did treat me well. He never hit me or was abusive verbally. I guess he just couldn’t keep his hands to himself.
“So, where do we go from here?” Sandy asked.
“I don’t know.” I paused while I leaned behind me to grab the calendar sitting by the phone. “It’s going to take awhile to absorb all this. Cheating is cheating, whether you had sex or not.” I said. “I’m still angry about that, but like I said, it doesn’t surprise me completely.” Sandy just nodded. “I have an appointment at a clinic, so I can talk to someone. I have locked myself up in my apartment for the past two weeks. I need to start healing. Especially considering I told my mom that I wasn’t going to let Eddie’s death cripple me. That’s exactly what I was doing.” I waited for a moment before continuing. “I also need to get tested. I don’t want to do this alone. I need my best friend for support. Will you go with me?”
Sandy looked at me, took my hand and said, “You don’t even need to ask.”
So, that’s my story. My life could easily be a soap opera. I got tested. The test came back negative. I’ll still need to continue to get tested to make sure, since HIV came lay dormant for a long time. Eddie’s parents and I scattered his ashes out on the pacific, just like he wanted. As for Sandy and me; our friendship will never be the same, but we are working on it. There is too much history between us to just throw it away. I’m just taking my life one step at a time.