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Crap. I did it. I can’t believe I did it. I know it seems wrong, cheating on your boyfriend, but to me, in the beginning, it didn’t. Now I was standing in this stupid room, panicking. Wishing, hoping I didn't do what I just did. My stupid life and my stupid brain and my stupid values all gone. What am I going to do? I can’t tell Sean, but if I don’t, I’ll be living a lie. It didn’t mean anything. I swore to myself it didn't mean anything. It wasn't all my fault, this was a two way street, a double edged sword, in this situation, it took two to tango. I was not going to take all the blame. I had to leave James’ room. It was making me sick. Everything that I had liked before was making me sick to my stomach. I wanted to vomit. I grabbed my things and ran out as fast as my little legs could carry me.
I was in high school, he was too, but he was a senior, I was a junior. He was my dream guy, the guy not every girl wanted, but I did. A senior, tall, smart, glasses. He wasn't the school crush, but he was my crush, and I never intended on getting him. My friends were giddy for me when he looked my way, they helped me whenever I was down, they were a big part of me then. In the Senior-Junior play, he was an actor, I was a part of the crew, not exactly the best couple, but late one night, when I was packing up. He asked me. That question. The one I had only heard from that guy in 6th grade who asked me if I wanted to go out with him and then cried when I said no. But he did it, and it was what I had been waiting for. It was good for a while. Until he left for college. He said “long distance would work”. Well, obviously it didn’t. I got sad and lonely. It wasn’t like I liked other guys, I didn’t want to, I loved him. But nights got lonelier, sad songs got sadder and my heart sunk lower. I was in a slump and he was at college having the time of his life, not thinking about me. I had no one, and attention from guys wasn’t horrible, and it made me feel like I was important, which he didn’t do. He hadn’t done it since he left, and I knew it was trouble. I knew me feeling this way, was bad. That me wanting attention, wanting to feel special was bad, but I didn’t care.
“So, what am I going to do?” I asked my friends, sitting at our lunch table in the courtyard. It was a nice day, sunny, warm, a breeze blowing. They were eating salads that looked like paper, and 12 calorie granola bars. I was stocking up on carbs for the winter. Him freezing me out was going to take some nourishment. I needed to get an early start.
“Well, I don’t know, Taylor, but maybe you should start with reducing your sugar overload,” said Lana, pulling my tray away from me and replacing my cookies with an apple.
“Apples still have sugar,” I said, trying to act smart like she was.
“Yes, but its good sugar. Its not an overload of sugar,” she said, getting all science-y.
“I know,” I said, not really meaning it.
I looked over at Jean, who was texting whoever the latest guy is.
“Guys, I seriously need help!” I said trying to get their attention.
I was successful. They both looked at me with sad eyes. I was in trouble. Big trouble, and I had to fix this. But really, there was no way to fix it. I couldn’t go back.
My phone rang, it was him. All of the sudden every feeling you could have came rushing to me. The contents of my stomach almost came up onto my plate. I had to answer or he’d think I was hiding something. I took a shaky breath and answered the phone.
“Hey Johnson,” he said, we called each other by our last names, it was our thing. No one else did it but us.
“H-Hey Stevenson ,” I replied. It was his comforting warm voice, it made me even sicker than I was. Right now, he was nice and sweet and he had no idea what I had done. He asked me how my day was, said that he was ok. Then out of no where, I heard someone yell in the background, but I also heard it down the hallway. Uh oh.
§ § §
“Hey, by the way, I’m here,” he walked up behind me and hugged me.
“Hi…” I said, my voice impossibly high and my shoulders tense, “Why are you here?” I knew I sounded weird, asking him all of the sudden.
“Just to see you,” he said sweetly. God, why did I have to mess this up. The only good thing in my life and I messed it up, it’s not like I was going to college. My grades were B’s and C’s one A and two F’s. Bad. All my teachers hated me, I texted in class, talked, passed notes. In movies it meant you were cool, well…not in real life. In real life you get a detention slip, get sent to the office for not going to detention because the new Legally Blonde was out, and then loosing your computer privileges for a week. Yup, no fun for me. So I obviously wasn't going to college, Sean was all I had and I ruined that too. Just then James came up.
“Hey broooooo!” he said stumbling around, his friend behind him laughing and shooting tiny basketballs into invisible hoops and pretending like they’d actually make it. “I see you’ve met ma girl,” he said winking. I cringed. This was it. This was when it all ended.
“Umm,” Sean leaned over a whispered, “You’re friends with this guy?” he watched him walk away. Sean thought he meant friends, he thought we were just good friends.
“No,” I said relaxing a little, “I just know him from this year’s production.”
“Oh, cool, what was it?” he asked. I was glad we were off the topic of James. I couldn’t hold it in any longer and it was going to come out, I knew it was.
I was dropped off with him at my house, we had catching up to do, hopefully not a lot. He came in, sat down, I made him some fries. Then he said something that scared me.
“What really happened with that James kid?” He asked, looking at his fries and not at me.
“Ummmm, what do you mean?" I asked, trying to be casual and play dumb. Though I didn't really have to play.
“Did you only kiss him or…?” Oh my gosh. Everything in my brain came crashing down every memory was being destroyed because I knew I wouldn't need them as long as I was on this earth any longer. How did he know. Was it Jean? or James? Whoever it was, would be dead to me.
“What?” I said hoping he was joking, praying he was joking,
“I know you. You were acting weird and he called you his girl. You really think I wouldn’t get it?” I was ruined. We were ruined. All because I had cheated. I knew I wasn’t smart, but I never thought I could be this stupid.
§ § §
He left that night crying. I told him everything. How I met James in shop class, I had to admit he was attractive, but too much of a, sports-jock-I’m-cooler-than-you-cause-my-dad-has-money type of guy. He flirted, and I rejected him, a lot. Shop class was easy, I just had to get through it. But he went after me, and I liked it, being liked. I used to be liked, but Sean was gone and so was my common sense. I looked forward to shop class and knowing someone liked me who was a little closer than New York. He asked me if I could tutor him in Math. I got my only A in math, I could try. But I knew what tutoring ment. I did it anyway. At about the “tutoring” area of the story is when Sean got mad. He said he was always there for me. This was when it got bad. Why?
“Oh, you were there for me? You said long distance would work. We see how that ended. Maybe it works for you, but not for me. While you are at college having the time of your life I am here, crying myself to sleep at night half of the time, the other half is more yelling than crying. I needed you and you weren’t there,” I was crying now, screaming by the time I finished.
“I tried to be there -”
“Well maybe next time you should try harder,” I said, feeling defeated.
“Don’t make this my fault, you cheated on me,” he said getting choked up, “you’re the one who kissed another guy, I didn’t give up, you did,”
“You weren’t there. Ok, I called you 17 times before I went to his house. I left 6 messages I was trying and you weren’t. Don’t get mad if I replaced you cause you need better priority skills,”
“Priorities? My priorities? I-”
“You know, maybe I have an extra calendar for you, you might need it to plan your next college party while I’m sick with fever,” I said throwing his plate in the sink. I probably looked horrible, I could feel my mascara running.
“That is not fair, we said we’d wait for each other, we agreed-” he was crying now.
“Well, just because I agreed then doesn’t mean I agree now,” I said, my voice almost a whisper.
“So what are we going to do?” he said sitting down in a mahogany chair at the island.
“I don’t know, it’s your choice. I’m never doing anything with my life, at least I gave you a reason to leave. I knew you always needed one,” I said, staring into the sink.
“Don’t worry Taylor Johnson, you’re gonna be something, and I’ll be able to look back and say I knew her way back when,” he smiled, I chuckled.
“I still love you, Stevenson,” I said.
“I love you too, Johnson,” he said back, looking up at me, and with that he left and I fell asleep with a headache and drenched pillow.
§ § §
Five years later. I went to college, got a degree, and was living in a condo in New York. I hadn’t had a boyfriend in three years, the last one I had was a disaster. After Sean there was Connor, Fred, Ryan and more I didn’t really want to count. None of them worked. I was scared. The cheating ruined me. It made me allergic to commitment, I was scared I'd do it again, though I told myself I wouldn’t. But that’s what happened last time, right? It hurts, not being able to be somewhere where you know you’ve been before. I was happy, with him, going somewhere. I was innocent and I could’ve stayed that way. But after I cheated, I couldn’t get back there, it was like I was lost in a maze I’d already been through. I couldn’t be that happy, innocent girl again. And it hurt.
I got a call, two days ago, it made me cry. I picked up the phone from an unknown number. I almost dropped the phone when I heard a warm voice say,
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The moral of this story, because there obviously is one, is don’t cheat. Never. Ever. It’s not like lying, where a white lie about your friends really ugly dress will do no harm. But cheating is never good. Cheating on your test, will get you expelled, or you’ll flunk out of college ‘cause you know nothing. Cheating on your boyfriend, Exhibit A: This story. Neither of these end up well. So I’m telling you now, don’t do it. Because cheating on someone is only cheating yourself out of what you deserve. Please, don’t do what I did; don’t cheat yourself. ‘Cause it really does hurt, not being able to be somewhere where you know you’ve been before.