I hate her.

I’ve been struggling to be inspired today, but this Tumblr blog post got something turning in my head. Let’s see where it goes!

Prompt: She means nothing to me.

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She means nothing to me – that woman in the picture.

Or at least that’s what I’m trying to convince myself.

That woman was someone that used to love me. That woman was someone that used to make me laugh. That woman used to share dreams of spending the rest of her life at my side, making waves and taking names. We were going to be unstoppable. Forever young, forever fun. That was the plan.

Until she amended the plan; “I need to find more, Claire,” she whispered to me. It was in the wee hours of the morning, past out drunk on the sofa of close friend’s house. The party hadn’t lived up to the expectations of the hype, and it left that woman of mine whimpering for more. I thought she meant more drinks, more shots, more songs, more mistakes, and more sex. I thought she was just feeling antsy. She wasn’t.

She was feeling something else, something I still don’t fully understand, and I suffer as the result of her complex existence.

That woman in the picture left before I woke up, she left before the world woke up. Always one step ahead, that woman.

I can’t blame her. I loved her because she was unique, she was complicated, she was something and everything all at once. When I held her in my arms after a long night at the bar, I would tell her all the things I thought I wanted in life before I met her. How I wanted a nice house, a nice car, a sugar daddy husband, and an affair with the pool boy. I rattled on about how I needed more antics in my life than I need true love – that was the person I used to think I’d become as I aged. I always told her how she much she changed me, how much she gave to me…

I made sure she knew how she made me crave adventure, how she made me consider seeing the world for what its temporary beauty rather than its permanent benefits, and how she made me want things I couldn’t want before I saw her face. That woman came in, claiming that the world isn’t flat anymore.

She helped me realize to that I had more than one dimension. I wasn’t just a straight girl looking for a straight guy looking for another boy with less morals in need of a great time. That woman in that picture told me that the only person who knows me is me, and somehow she was ironically wrong. The only person that knows me is me, but she knew me before I did.

And I hate her now for the privilege.

— — —

She means nothing to me – that woman smiling in the background of my screen saver.

The way she photobombed every selfie I ever took was glorious. I may never know why she loved me; “Andrea, you gave me a life I didn’t know existed,” but she thought I was some sort of godsend. She smiled at me as if I showed up one day in a tiny thrift shop specifically to take her heart away so that she could replace it with the world. I never meant for those things to happen, and I certainly never meant to fall in or out of love with her either.

But that’s how the story goes. I don’t want to be with anyone forever, even when I think I do – I don’t. She tricked me in a sneaky little romantic way into believing that I had found a purpose. We worked odd jobs, lived in basements, and crashed at everyone else’s house after long nights partying. If we ever had a home it would have been in each other’s arms, sometimes wrapped up in one another on the cold, wet streets in the middle of the night. No other couple was as devoted nor as manic about their love as we were, I’m willing to bet some promiscuous favors on it.

Of course, I’m probably just saying that because I’d do it anyway. There’s so little that I wouldn’t be willing to try. It just so happens, for that matter, that I wanted to taste heartbreak when I told her that I needed to find something. The existential something. Is something there or is it not? I have no idea what it is I’m looking to fill the void in my heart – but eventually the new fad burns up like rolling paper in a bonfire. Whatever interests I take, I take them with a grain of salt and a time bomb.

The girl in my background – delete – she is just a woman that should have never loved me. I hate her for loving me.

Love is Trouble

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m pretty sure I’m kind of young to be a Maid of Honor.

Now, I could understand if I was a bridesmaid or something. That would make sense, honestly. I am really close to my aunt, and I work for her from time-to-time if I need extra cash and she needs extra help. We talk boys, girls, friends, family, school, and so much more. She is more of a mom to me than my own mother, and while that does have it’s benefits – I really never hoped that Maid of Honor was one of them.

The only benefit I get out of this is that I didn’t have to make up an excuse to skip out on the bonfire tonight. I’ve needed a break to catch up on some reading but it seems like every single week Bradley has a party he wants us to go to, or some event we are supposed to attend. The whole thing is exhausting but that’s the sacrifice of love. Bradley sits with me through my Netflix binge nights and I go with him to all these social events.

I see Miley and her new sister Lee playing with the flowers in their baskets in the front rows. Evan has his hands behind his back diagonally from me. He’s a cute kid but clearly disgruntled. The older kids in blended families usually are, I supposed. That’s what everyone told me when my dad remarried.

And when my mom remarried.

And remarried again.

And again three more times…

I think that really the older kids just know how easily things can fall apart. I believe that adults rush into happiness, sometimes. They think that they get it because they were already young, and they already tested the waters, but they don’t have a clue. Teenagers get it so much more than parents and adults are willing to accept. Teenage boys do the romantic stuff. They ask you politely to go out with them, they buy you flowers, they drop notes in your locker, and all those cute things that adults forget to do when they’re older.

The older they are the less they seem to care about expressing their love.

At least Bradley and I have it all figured out.

When the ceremony is over and everyone has journeyed inside for dinner I am waiting to do my speech. Deacon’s youngest brother is ahead of me as his Best Man. I haven’t talked to him. There really isn’t any reason for it other than just not doing it. We had to communicate a little bit for the rehearsal runs and rehearsal dinner, where we talked about the order we’d give speeches. I think in total I’ve said maybe three or four full sentences to him.

“What do you think of this marriage bullshit?” He says pointedly with a cigarette hanging off his fingers. That means his other hand must be fishing for a lighter. Most of my mother’s side of the family smokes so I don’t bother pointing out he can’t smoke inside – he’ll probably do it anyway because he’s twenty-nine and I’m only sixteen. Clearly the adult trumps the kid, right?

Ignoring how he looks at me with a little too much glimmer in his eyes, I answer his question truthfully, having no inhibitions otherwise; “I think that marriage can be sincere.”

Shrugging my shoulders quickly, I decide that I should add my other opinion as well, “Or it can be a hobby.”

“Ain’t it the truth?” As he laughs smoke leaks out the sides of his mouth. Part of me thinks he is going to keep talking but he doesn’t. He just laughs a little more until everyone is instructed to sit down. Soon enough he is rambling on about a bunch of embarrassing things Deacon did as a child and all the ways he tried to be perfect for Priscilla over the last few months.

It’s almost endearing.

— — —

I post pictures of the wedding late Sunday night so that I’ll be the talk of the town – or at least in my group of friends. I secretly can’t wait for people to tell me how beautiful I looked and ask me about reception antics. More than anything, I kind of want to hear Bradley talk about what I’d look like in a white dress – standing next to him at the alter.

I don’t know what it was but when Chad asked me what I thought about marriage, suddenly I wanted it. I wanted to know that I would have that for sure in my future. Finally I think I realize that I want to marry Bradley.

“Did you hear the news?” Someone asks me. I don’t really know who she is off-hand. I know she’s one of my Bradley’s extended family members. A second cousin? A second cousin once removed? She’s the daughter of his grandmother’s sister’s son? I don’t know – she’s been at the last four family reunions, though.

Shaking my head, I assure that I have not heard this news; “Why don’t you just tell me what it is?”

“I’ll show you what it is!” She proclaims as she pulls up her phone and starts tapping on icons. Her fingers move quickly until she hands the device over to me and reveals a picture of none other Bradley kissing…

“ALISON JANE MICHAELS!” I shriek, knowing her route well enough to know that she’s at the end of the hall right now. Everyone hears me. There is no chance of her pretending that she has not. When I make eye contact with her worried face I can see tears in her eyes.

This isn’t her fault, though. Not alone, anyway. I can’t be mad at just her because Bradley had to make that decision too. Instead of getting angry I just wave at her with a look of fury on my face. I’ll deal with them later. For now…

Marriage is definitely bullshit.

Unconventional, But Mine

Giving birth makes ruining a marriage seem like having a really bad hangover…

Three weeks ago I pushed out an actual human being that I didn’t want with a man whom I don’t like and is asking me to be someone that I don’t like. There is a clear pattern here, and it all started when I let Deacon use me as a way to get out of a marriage that he didn’t like…

Basically, I hate what my life has become. Dirty diapers, waking up in the middle of the night to a screaming infant, and the fixed schedule of a man who wants a family; Deacon is a pretty nice person but having sex with him was way more fun than living with him. Deacon snores, he leaves his underwear all over the house, and to be frank – he laughs so much that it makes me actually nauseous. This man doesn’t care how miserable I am as long as I’m laughing and smiling with him.

Neither of us really discusses about how I fit into the picture, so my thoughts on him not caring aren’t ill conceived. He has never once queried if I even wanted to keep this baby. This little girl that looks more like him than me, thank goodness, and is the embodiment of everything I have never, ever wanted but he doesn’t know that because he never asked me. Being a mother was the last thing I wanted to do with my life. Again, he has no idea because there was never any talk about what we wanted – only what he wanted.

As for me, I love travelling the world in the summertime when I’m not teaching art throughout the school year. I love buying an excessive amount of alcohol on grocery day. More than anything, easily my favorite thing is being able to pretty much make my own schedule and decisions without really concerning myself with how others feel about it.

Now that there is a child in the mix – I will have to use my travel funds for baby clothes and doctor visits. I’ll have to stop drinking and going out with the girls so that I can buy diapers and feed an extra mouth. Some people in the world have to do these things, of course, because there are a ton of kids needing care in the world. If every single person thought the same way as me then all of society would fail.

I know I can’t continue pretending to be someone that I’m not, though. People who do that for too long can turn into monsters. They can turn into adult babies. I will cry at stupid hours in the night. I will become so lethargic that I will need Deacon to feed me, to comfort me, and to make sure I continue doing what I’m supposed to be doing so that I can fit the standards of those around me occupying the same roles. Eventually I would require an adult telling me how to be “normal.”

“Where is my baby girl?” Deacon shouts before he even gets the front door open. His voice has gone from funnily pleasant to nails on a chalkboard over the last seven months. Being with and around him is exhausting. Anyway, I know that he’s not talking about me so I tell him that Lee is napping in the bedroom. Only when I let him know this does he greet me with a kiss on my forehead that makes me cringe. He also sports a seductive grin that boldly foreshadows his thoughts; “I guess play time is coming early for mom and dad tonight, then.”

Hearing myself be referred to as a ‘mom’ again pushes me over the edge in my already contemplative state of mind; “I can’t do this.”

Watching someone’s face go from ‘excited’ to ‘disappointed’ – I think it is my one true gift to make people feel horrified because at some point everyone I know looks at me in this exact way. Features contort as if a rotten egg has just been shoved into their noses and their mouths, tainting everything immediately. Grandma had this expression when I announced that I was bisexual. My mother did the same thing when I said I wanted to be a teacher instead of marketer so that I can more easily experience everything life has to offer – on my terms, no less. My high school sweetheart – yeah, he definitely looked exactly like this when I told him that I wasn’t interested in marriage conceptually. Truthfully, I do love others very much but at the end of the day I love myself most. Everyone deserves to be happy and I would be much happier not doing any of what I’ve gotten myself into now.

“I am very sorry but I don’t want to be a mom. I don’t want to be a wife. This is life is strangling me because I am not this person.”

Somewhere in the world there is an old woman suffocating with a cigarette on her back porch, arms folded over her chest. Her brows are furrowed and smoke is rolling from her mouth as she zones out, wishing for the life that she could have had instead the one she has lived. That woman resents her husband, her ex-husbands, and her kids; all because someone convinced her that it was her obligation to be a mother and a wife. That woman wasn’t exposed to a world that let her know that she had options.

“You are still young, Natalia. This is just post-partum depression. A lot of women having kids at your age go through this, but I promise I’m here to help you. Together we can get past this and we can raise Lee as a happy family.” Did you hear that, Nat? Did you hear the world trying to tell you how you feel yet again? Deacon is trying to do what everyone does when they don’t support my realities.

So I do to him what I did to all of the others; “Nobody tells me what I want except me. Believe me when I say that I want nothing to do with Lee or with you. I kept my mouth shut about your divorce and I expressed my gratitude when you helped pay for the baby stuff, but being silent has to stop. I hate kids. I only had that baby because you wanted it. Now you have it and all I need right now is to walk out that front door with all of my stuff and never look back.” Deacon seems to be absorbing the seriousness of my woes. Surely his heart is pounding so fast that he worries more of a heart attack than he does of being alone. As the two of us meet in the middle of the living room, it is him who throws his hands in the air. Not that I’m surprised….

Initially, I expect him to yell. To think that anything else would happen after I admit that I hate this arrangement, I would have to be completely delusional. Selfish is not the same thing as ignorant. Nothing comes through his teeth and he just keeps waving his arms, sometimes stopping to rub his chin. My mind shifts to alternative actions he might take – is he going to hit me? Is he going to say terrible things? Is he going to leave and force me to care for this baby?

Deacon breaks the mold, though, by saying something that I’m sure I’ll never hear in the movies; “If you really want to go then just go. All I ask is that if you walk out that door – never come back. This isn’t something that you can fix later. I will not raise my daughter in a loving household only to have a birth mother show up in nine years wanting the life she gave up back.”

Claiming that relief resonates through my body – supreme understatement. Calm courses through my body almost violently in an effort to get rid of any tension; I feel a genuine smile curling my lips. A toothy expression sends me propelling into Deacon’s arms with appreciation. By the time I thank him and apologize for never bringing it up before, I find that I am crying without having noticed. Deacon dries my tears before telling me that I should go and that he will reach out once he’s met with his attorney. I promise to work with him on figuring out the best way to contribute anonymously to him and his daughter.

Because at the end of the day – I was never going to be a mother…

…   ….   ….

A month can do a lot of good for someone. One month, four weeks, thirty days; it goes by faster than a blink in the grand scheme of things. Somehow, though, in that same time frame a person can change his or her life entirely.

I will never know how Deacon spun everything to his attorney but he is releasing me of any obligation to the child. As soon as I got the letter I explained to him that I’ve decide to move to Italy and that his mature acceptance of my desires has encouraged me to pursue something that I needed for a very long time.

My family took the final step in ostracizing me after my revealing that I abandoned Deacon and Lee. Everyone has a line and it just seems that I, Natalia Escotto, have simply crossed it. All is well as Deacon is going to move into my old apartment and assuming the lease. Until my flight next week, I’m just staying with a friend. In six days I will be leaving behind everything that has ever hindered my personal growth.

And no matter what the world thinks of me – I know that this is right.

I finally know how happiness tastes on my lips.

Life Goes On – With or Without You

Opportunities such as this do not come often, especially not for me. I have been climbing the ladder within the English department since I was in my last year of my Master’s degree. I was a part-time personal assistant to the English Department Head. Then I became a part-time professors’ aide. Then I was offered a position to fill in for a professor that took FMLA time, and consequently that professor had to retire. As quickly as I rose, it was still a battle. Convincing my highers-up that I was capable of this job was far from easy. Eventually everyone reached a consensus – the students were receiving a quality education and there was little reason to change that fact.

Now, three years later I am being offered a promotion for English Department Head. Having made quite the impression on Mrs. Mason as her assistant, she has convinced the university board that I would be perfect for the position. I was copied and printed the internal e-mail earlier this afternoon. My favorite part is where she says: Professor Teagan is as passionate, driven, and analytical as you could ever dream.

Beyond work, I have been struggling to please my husband’s desires for children. It has never been that I don’t want children, because I do, but we have found that due to the shape of my uterus that it is nearly impossible to conceive children. In vitro fertilization has been recommended but every time I try to budget for the treatment, well, something comes up.

First it was Deacon’s obnoxious cousin getting thrown in jail. He wanted the bail money from their grandparents. Deacon was not about to let that happen and when they got into an argument about it over the phone, he offered to pay it himself since his cousin was being such a jerk about it. I was against it but before that he allowed me to pay for my sister’s emergency room visit when she broke her ankle landscaping. I was in no place to complain. As the result, things have become extremely tense.

But this pay raise will fix everything.

Sure we will have to wait at least six more months before we could consider the in vitro procedure but it is progress. It is exactly the change that we need!

Walking through the front door is a step closer to victory. Carrying my briefcase to the kitchen table while I exude confidence with the clunk of my low heels on the redwood floors. I can hear pans clamoring around in the kitchen as well as my husband talking lowly. Since it is late evening I assume that it is his mother.

“I can’t talk right now. She’s going to be home any minute now.”

Well… that’s not how he normally talks to his mother…

…Perhaps he’s trying to surprise me with something?

“She’s already home!” I announce pleasantly, a singsong voice replacing my usually professional and bland tone. My students describe me as posh, proper, or pristine with a splash of exuberance, energy, and enthusiasm. My love for alliteration is somewhat sickening but I think secretly all English professors have a slight obsession with it as a literary tool. Refocusing, I slide out of my blazer as my husband rushes off of his cell phone. Deacon shoves it deep into his pocket with an awkward expression that I hope to remedy; “I hope you’re ready for some big news!”

Deacon does not seem as excited as he should be, considering that I’m grinning from ear-to-ear. Refusing to feel defeated by his worn expression I simply usher him back to the dining room to sit him down. Quickly reminding him about some of our financial decisions in the past, I am hoping that I’ve opened the conversation successfully for maximum joy.

At the end of everything, while I am pulling out the e-mail, I catch sight of Deacon rubbing his palms on the side of his shirt. Having been together for thirteen years I know that this can only mean one thing. He has a secret. It is not a good secret either. My mind races as I drop the case top down with a clang. By the time I make it into a chair as well, it seems as though Deacon has found his voice.

Although, when he speaks I’m not sure that I want to hear him now; “I have been seeing someone else and she’s pregnant.”

I have been seeing someone else; this is enough to deflate any pair of lungs, or shrivel any heart. Still, even further than that, he says more; and she’s pregnant. It scrambles my brain. It closes my mouth. It rips at my stomach.

If I had to choose one word to describe how I feel right now I would choose ‘emaciated.’ Maybe it should be ‘surprised’ but in a way… how could I be? Some people are completely shocked when they learn of cheating partners and unfaithful spouses. Somehow I cannot shake the possibility that many of them claim surprise because knows a word for expectantly horrified. I remember once when I was in college I was told to avoid watching a viral video circulating online. It was supposedly gruesome, something about Pain Olympics. Needless to say, I watched it. I expected the worst but I was still horrified.

That is how I feel after the punctures of his words collapse my lungs. It discomforts me that I can help a young woman overcome her breakup but I cannot even save my own marriage. There will, of course, be no saving it at this point, either. If he had simply had an affair I may have been able to overcome the suffering of that reality. A pregnant mistress is a completely different adventure altogether.

“If it even matters… I got a promotion and it comes with tenure.” At this point I’ve decided to refuse crying in front of him. Knowing how he has hurt me is no longer a privilege that he is extended. My love for him is no less but my respect is absent. Hearing him admit that he’s been seeing someone, and having sex with her regularly enough to ensure her pregnancy is with him… Beyond that, how many women know that they are pregnant immediately? My brain immediately starts reeling on how this must have been something that’s happened several times over at least three to six weeks. Maybe I will have the courage to ask him more about it when we have dinner tomorrow, but right now I want to lie down and cry.

Half way up the stairs I decide to call my aide and instruct her to cover my first class the following morning. Amaya, whom is a bright young woman, doesn’t ask me any questions when I speak to her. Hopefully she detects the pain in my voice and knows that it is essential to me on a personal level. Once I am in the bedroom I lock the door and throw myself in the decorative pillows, still clad in suit and pantyhose, and I just sob.

Snot goes everywhere. Tears are so prevalent that I literally smell salt. My thoughts range from angry replies to his choices that I can enact in the morning to which attorney would be best for ensuring this divorce is quick and easy. At times my sadness lifts momentarily enough for me to start listing problems that we are bound to face, such as whom keeps the house and how to handle split financial investments. When I panic, when I am devastated, or when I fail, I just start listing. The classic “Taylor’s To Tackle” lists, as my parents call them. Honestly, I even name my syllabi “Professor Taylor Teagan’s to Tackle Itinerary.” It is one of the things my students like most on their first day. They know in the sea of serious lectures I am still playful.

Thinking about this gives me enough strength to start throwing messy pillows and sheets off of the bed. Ready to just pretend the entire day has not happened, I get onto my feet and unlock the door. Easily I slip out of my work clothes and crawl into bed in my boring nude bra and panties.

Boring. I’m boring and I can’t breed.

I would prefer to cry some more but instead I feel my body commanding me to sleep.

Today my face hurts. My arms hurt. My gut hurts. As an English professor I should be able to think of more descriptive ways to explain how awful the pain is but repetition has it’s place in literature too. Instead of concocting twelve different words synonymous with ‘hurt’ I prefer repeating that I ‘hurt’ because everyone knows what that word means. Nobody has to try to understand how terrible the pain is because if I keep saying it then it keeps hurting. Eventually an outside party will develop empathy. Everyone needs a little bit of empathy in his or her life.

Moving past personal suffering I manage to get downstairs and make breakfast. Deacon is waiting for me there in the same spot he sat last night when he shattered everything I thought was mine. His clothes are different so I know he’s come into the bedroom and changed in the night, but his eyes are still just as nervous as they were yesterday. Deacon does not know what to expect from me because I never addressed what he shared last night.

Even now as I push the second serving of the scrambled eggs, sausage, and bagels to him – nothing pushes past my teeth. My desire to speak is nonexistent and thankfully today my body agrees with my wishes. Without so much as a clue as to how to approach me, I find that Deacon chooses to not try. Lackluster communication is clearly the weakness in our marriage. More likely than not it is also the fault line that separated us enough that an affair became an acceptable option.

I always tell my students that failure is hard for good professors because if the student doesn’t excel then the teaching was not successful. It takes two in order to succeed in all types of relationships, from personal to professional, and a failing student is a failing teacher. Although I have this on my mind – the urge to ask Deacon what it is that I’ve done wrong takes more effort than getting out of bed, or what going to work will require. Thankfully, I manage. Finishing breakfast in silence I calmly take my empty dishes to the sink.

Deacon doesn’t follow me, but he shouts at me asking if I am still going to work. Wit doesn’t escape me, and neither does bitterness in his moment. Once I reach the front door I swipe my purse and an informal jacket from the coat hanger; “I will not allow your infidelity to taint anything else in my life. Of course I’m going to work today!” Presumably he has taken the day off to tend to these personal matters, to determine how we are going to proceed. Unfortunately, in his selfish mindset he has already made those choices. The only matters remaining are the consequences. Deep inside of me I am just hoping that when I get home that he’s packed his bags and most prized possessions and left.

Upon arrival to my office I find that my aide is sitting in the lobby with Thalia. Having found out about my husband’s poor choices nearly forced out the memory of our conversation over dinner. Yesterday she was inexplicably tired. I am willing to assume that I look much as she did then now, in my plain black suit and darkened eyes.

Thalia is much improved now, though. Today her hair is twisted into an odd sort of braid and she wears a beautiful spring dress. It is cerulean and reminds me a tiny bit of a Disney princess. As soon as she sees me walk through the door she jumps onto her feet and asks if she may hug me in appreciation for my wisdom.

I figure what the hell because, damn it, I need a hug.

“Thank you so much, Professor Teagan. I needed to hear everything you said last night. I am so much more confident today because of you. Just thank you so much!” Happiness is a filter. It allows the individual to perceive everything with positivity. Of all the ways that someone can view the world, optimistically is without question the best option. It offers prime enjoyment in life. Thalia has found the bliss of experiencing the world once again in a positive fashion. Before long she is scampering away with my praise once more for her academic dedication. Amaya softly reminds me that I deserve everything I have worked for, including the love of my students. I am glad when she allows me to go into my office without another word.

Truthfully, I do not need to be reassured any further. When trying to be successful I never once stood down and waited for things to be handed to me. Set backs were never end-all-be-all events. No, I had to work hard every day to be offered this position as a Department Head. Regardless of any emergency with which I am face I am going to keep working – making an impact on everyone and everything around me. There may be nothing left in me to offer Deacon but I have plenty to give this university.

This job is my true love and I feel good about it.

A Selfish Break-Up

Earth shattering moments are the worst.

For some people their moment is being declined a job opportunity, and some people it is not getting into their first choice college, and other people it’s having a bad hair day, or not having enough money to get an extra shot of espresso at the coffee shop. As for me, it’s finding out that my boyfriend is going to break up with me before he’s actually done the breaking up part.

A girl heard from another girl who heard it from her boyfriend who happens to be my brother’s supervisor at the factory. As soon as my brother told me I called Matthew. I interrupted his movie and he was very unforgiving. I never got the chance to ask him if it was true because as soon as he started yelling at me for being “inconsiderate” I spit out that I didn’t think things were working anymore. Once I said we should stop seeing each other he stopped complaining. In fact, he stopped doing a lot of things for a few minutes. Finally he said exactly what any lame boyfriend would say when being dumped…

“Cool.” Cool? Really? He was such a dick about it, acting as if he couldn’t care less. The nonchalance has made me supremely mad. I think I am somewhere between angry and depressed. I have been skipping English class for two weeks because I’m too afraid to run into Matt. Part of me really wants to ask him why he was so careless on the matter. The other part of me wants to smack him for being a terrible person.

More than that, though, I want to at least do my work for English. I have been turning in all of my assignments after hours. Even if I get partial credit on all of the remaining assignments I can still pass the class with an acceptable grade. I’m going to be petty but I’m not going to compromise my class and money invested in my education.

As for right now – right now I’m standing in line in the cafeteria, waiting for my roommate to come back with the notes so that I can copy them for the test next week. Generally speaking, the book review tests are all relevant to actual events taking place within the book and identifying technical aspects in the writing. Such a trait in a teacher is admirable – because why should your students be tested on your opinion of the book? All of that being mentally tucked away, I will need lecture notes on things discussed only in class.

Unfortunately, Tiffany – being the beach babe that she is – says that she was stopped for an impromptu coffee date with a boy she’s be eyeballing. It’s a different one every week so I have no idea whom it might be and I don’t care. All of that is really her business. Meanwhile, I just plan on getting my dinner early and surf the web for new and interesting facts about British celebrities and televisions shows that I haven’t already uncovered.

Today I settle on pizza. Lots of pizza and lots of energy drink. All I manage to do is fumble around with all of my belongings during my trek to the center table. I prefer sitting here now since it is never used because it’s too close to the staff… also because I know nobody is going to ask me about the break up…. Or my downward spiral since then… or my embarrassing body odor because sometimes going to the shower requires energy that I would rather expend by walking to the gas station up the street for more chocolate ice cream.

Tiffany has been trying to get me out the break up blues but I sometimes like it here on the lonely road. Lately I am catching up on television shows. I am able to keep up with my long distance friends on social media much better. My selfie game is definitely stronger than it was before when I was with Matt the big brat who once sat on my mother’s cat and nearly made it splat because he’s an ass hat.

“Nice poetry.” There are some voices that you just don’t recognize. It doesn’t matter how often you hear them, the noise is still foreign in your ears. I think the only thing more startling is the fact that I didn’t even know I was saying anything out loud. Apparently I was bashing Matt verbally instead of mentally… I have to wonder now if I’ve been doing that this entire time.

“Professor Carter, I didn’t see you there. My apologies for the language.” Saying sorry is something I’ve grown accustom to these days. Sorry for crying all night, sorry for deleting your recording but I couldn’t miss that rerun of Doctor Who. I’m so sorry that I ate your gelato. I’m sorry that I slept through the entire party. I’m sorry that I forgot to buy groceries again this week.

“You should apologize for skipping my class.” Professor Carter takes a seat with a tray looking very much like my own. Instead of a side of French fries she’s opted for steamed veggies, and instead of three slices of pizza she’s got a single serving of meatloaf. She opens her Snapple and then continues in a very casual tone, “If it makes you feel any better, Matt is failing my class.”

It does make me feel better but I’m not going to tell her that. It would make me look bitter. I’m not bitter.

Okay, I’m bitter but not that bitter.

“The test next week wouldn’t happen to be available online would it?” Shoving food into my mouth helps keep me quiet and from going into my terrible, awful break up story. That damn phone call has taken up so much space in my brain that I am pretty sure I’ve forgotten all of my other stories.

“I am not making it available online so that you’ll stop skipping my class.” Professor Carter remarks plainly while she cuts a small piece of her meatloaf. Clad in a suit with her hair knotted in a perfect blonde bun to the side of her head, this woman is simply the personification of elegance. Even her table etiquette is impeccable. Admittedly, I do have to judge her slightly for dunking her meatloaf into a glob of ketchup.

After carefully considering what she’s told me, “What makes you so sure that I will show up?” Why would it even matter if I don’t come in the classroom? This is just one test and I’m still passing. In fact, my grade is still very comfortable. I could easily skip this test and only lose a half a grade point. Watching and waiting I realize that Professor Carter isn’t interested in answering right away; she just keeps eating and enjoying her food. Occasionally she inserts a comment about the cook on the veggies or how much she loves ketchup. I don’t believe her until she tells me that she sometimes puts ketchup in her tacos instead of salsa because she prefers the taste. Silently I continue judging her. Not in a bad way, though, because how badass is it that this teacher who won’t remember me in five years is telling me about her ketchup obsession? That’s really awesome.

“Your grade is more important than your break up. That’s why I’ve been giving you full credit on all of your assignments. You care. You just don’t realize how much yet.” Maybe she is right.

Maybe I do care about myself much more than I ever cared about my relationship with Matt. Maybe I care about how I’m perceived more than I care about why people see me in a certain way. This mediocre life I lead is just that: mediocre, but I don’t want people to look at me and see mediocre.

That’s why I called Matt and cut him loose before he had a chance to make me look weak. Only now I’ve made myself look weak and it’s my own fault; “Is Matt really failing?”

Professor Carter emits a laughter that actually turns heads in the cafeteria. Her laugh is obnoxious and kind of scary. It is the opposite of everything she appears to be and there is something oddly satisfying about it. I find myself giggling along with her as she confirms; “He plagiarized his midterm paper.”

Bitter as it is to be amused by this I refuse to not laugh even harder.