THIS EPISODE CONTAINS CONTENT THAT IS SEXUAL IN NATURE AND MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR MINORS. IF YOU’RE UNDER 18, PLEASE SKIP THIS ONE.
Being mad all day really does take a toll on you. I mean, it’s barely eight o’clock and I was already showered and in bed trying hard not to succumb to the heaviness of my eyelids. Now, if this had been any other night, I would’ve been had my bags packed, ready to board this express train to Dreamland but tonight, every time I close my eyes and drift away from anger and into sleep, this one thing from earlier would play out in the darkness, right in the space where my dreams should’ve been, just to remind me of the shitty day I had and make me mad all over again.
After the incident with Salim at lunch, he came to see me in the mailroom– well, at the door since he doesn’t have access and I wasn’t getting myself in trouble to let him in. I couldn’t make out everything he was saying but I did hear the word sorry followed by a few others that typically pop up in empty apologies. The thing I didn’t get though, was why he was even apologizing to me in the first place. I wasn’t the one he had out here looking crazy while he was running ‘round treating other girls to burritos and I wasn’t the one who needed to hear whatever it is he was risking his job out there to say either but he stood out there anyway — for ten whole minutes — forcing me to put down the huge stack of mail I was sorting and hide out in the bathroom just so I didn’t have to see his stupid, cheating face.
Speaking of stupid cheaters, the text alert for unknown senders had just gone off on my phone. I rolled over and lifted it from the floor, fully expecting to see yet another apology text from Brandon behind yet another number that was going to get blocked but when I opened the message and read the words displayed on the screen, a spark of nerves coursed throughout my entire body, shocking every ounce of sleepiness out of me and jolting me straight out of bed.
This message that had my heart pounding so hard — I could literally hear it vibrating in my eardrums — was from Amir.
In his text, he never said his name or bothered to reintroduce himself but I knew it was him. The way he said what’s up and what you doing, even through text, just… sounded like him.
I paced the floor next to the bed trying to decide how to respond or if I should even respond at all. I mean, I already said I had no intentions of seeing him again, and not responding would be a clear indicator that I wasn’t interested… but leaving him on read would be kind of rude– well, really rude, especially for a text as innocent as this one. The least I could do is let him down easy.
“Nothing. Just watching TV,” I responded with a… slightly embellished interpretation of my evening.
“What you watching?” he wrote back almost immediately.
I thought back to my SimTube history and how all of my recent searches were for things like how to get over a breakup and living on a budget without dying so I embellished some more and went with something a little less… sad. “A movie on Simflix.”
“So it’s movie night?”
“I guess you could say that.”
I kept my eyes on the trio of pulsating dots in the place where his next text would appear. If he was anything like most guys, he would use this ‘movie night’ thing as an opportunity to invite himself over and see if he could get a sequel to last night’s events. If he wasn’t and happened to be in like, the one percent of guys whose actions were actually controlled by their brains, he’d change the subject and steer the conversation away from us getting together. If I had to bet money on it though — he was like most guys.
“So when can I see you again?” his predictable ass response finally popped up.
I chuckled to myself as I placed my fingers on the keyboard. Predictable ass men were at the top of the list of shit I was sick of so letting him down easy was no longer a priority and with this witty-ass rejection I was about to serve up his ass’ll be thinking twice next time he gets the urge to be thirsty in other girls’ inboxes.
I had my reply locked and loaded — ready to dish out this text-based ass-whooping — but just as my finger was about to hit send, it was blocked by an incoming call from my mom.
I took a deep breath before answering, trying to prepare myself for whatever was waiting for me on the other end. See, calls from Bridgette were never just to check in on me, make small talk or whatever other parents called their kids for. Her calls meant somebody did something. Whether that somebody was me or somebody else — something happened and now I’m in trouble.
“Hey, Mama,” I answered just as it was approaching the third ring.
“Hey, Cami,” she replied, her tone already aggravated, “What took you so long to get to the phone? Were you sleeping?”
“No, I wasn’t–” I cleared my throat, trying to rid my voice of any evidence of sleepiness, “I’m not.”
“Good. ‘Cause it’s not even eight o’clock yet. Last thing you need to be doing is laying in bed all day.”
And last thing she needs to be doing is calling, telling me what I need to be doing — but I could never tell her that — not if I valued my life and having fully intact limbs so I just agreed instead which seemed to satisfy her because she dropped the issue and moved on to her reason for calling. “That boy came here looking for you today. You’re not still talking to him — Are you?”
That boy… Did she mean Brandon? That boy?
I lowered myself to the bed trying to contain the curiosity that was taking over me. “What boy?”
She sucked her teeth, completely bypassing my attempt at obliviousness. “You know what boy.”
He came to their house? My parents’ house?
“What did he want?”
“I don’t know, Cami,” she scoffed at my question, “I gave him five seconds to get off my porch before I showed him how good of a shot I am.”
My parents have never tried to hide their… dislike for Brandon. They made it obvious with the comments and interrogations when I first brought him home and the disapproving expressions and cold shoulders once we really got serious but now, with everything that happened, it’s downright hostile. Him showing up at their front door like that, alone and unarmed, was like walking into traffic blindfolded. It was dumb and dangerous but he did it anyway for me and now… I’m feeling dumb and dangerous. Stepping right back onto that bridge I had built to take me far away from the things that hurt. Back onto that unsteady ground that was crumbling beneath my feet. Right back into that place of hope — just hoping for something good, something happy — something… that was the opposite of the entries in my SimTube search history…
“So, he didn’t ask where I was or how I was doing or where I moved to or anything???”
The desperation in my voice must‘ve struck a nerve because she responded with the shortest most useless of responses. “No.”
I bit down on my bottom lip as hard as I could stand to keep from screaming words she was not ready to hear come from my mouth. He had to have said something — at least a word or two — but she’s keeping it from me just to torture me. He could’ve been there to explain or apologize — and I know he’s apologized a bunch of times before and that I keep avoiding his calls but this was different because he actually showed up, knowing he would have to face at least one of my parents, so I think it’s fair to at least listen to what he has to say but she’s making this so damn difficult for no reason!
“I know, Mama,” I said through gritted teeth as I tried to get more information from her, “but if he rang the doorbell and you opened it, right? I’m sure he said something before you threatened to shoot him ‘cause–”
“Cami!” her voice rose to a pitch I was way too familiar with. One that was usually followed by a look I don’t want to see and a lecture I’m not trying to hear, “I know you’re not sitting ‘round waiting for that boy. Not that dummy. I know better than that.”
She gave me a second to deny it but when her obviously rhetorical question was met with silence, her agitation grew into fury. “You know he don’t mean none of that stuff he says, right?”
“I know…” my voice trailed into a near whisper.
“So, if you know, why are you so worried about what he said? I thought you were done fooling with him? Isn’t that the whole reason you moved your lil’ behind across the state? So you can get away from your sad life?” she mocked me, “But instead, you–”
“I said I knoooooow!” I shouted loud enough to make her stop talking, “God! I was just asking!”
And stop talking, she did — for a minute anyway.
I thought for sure, she was going to go off and remind me of why raising my voice at her was something that happened almost never — but she didn’t. Instead, she ended our conversation with another reminder to send her my work schedule so we can pick a day for her and my dad to come visit then released me for the night.
Our conversation may have been over but I was still left with questions. Ones, that without answers, would make this already miserable night completely unbearable, but I had a way to find the answer to one — the one that mattered the most.
I toggled to the Simstagram app and pulled up Brandon’s profile. If what he did today was really for me — for us, his recent activity would reflect that. I swiped through the first few posts which were full of the typical things you’d expect to see from guys back home — money, music, cars, thirst traps, etc… Then I did a deeper dive through the entire month, examining every detail of every photo and investigating every profile of every mention and everything came back clean. I could feel the tension from my mom’s negativity melting away and the little flutter in my heart that I thought I would never feel again slowly coming back.
I was just about to close out the app, maybe text him and see if he wanted to talk, when the page refreshed and a new story entry popped up, right at the top. I opened it and just like that day, when everything went down, my heart broke into tiny little pieces all over my bedroom floor.
The story post was a trio of photos of him with some girl in his car. They were parked somewhere and she was on his lap alternating between kissing him and smiling for the camera. At the bottom were a few emojis — the heart eyes followed by the eggplant and that stupid tongue.
I wanted to text him and say all the things I should’ve said before I walked out that day. To tell him how much I hate him — that I never want to hear from him again and that I really meant it this time. To tell him that I hope he dies and that if he doesn’t, the remainder of his life is sad and miserable and full of insufferable STDs. I was on the Messages app too but just as I was about to click on his contact, I remembered that other ass whooping I was supposed to deliver but by the time I swiped through my phone and returned to the unfinished message, I just… wasn’t in the mood to fight anymore. I had spent the entire day being mad and I just… wanted to feel something else so I erased what I had written and typed up something new instead…