I’ve been getting pretty good at being able to “block things out,” especially traumatic events. I sit next to my current boyfriend, Thaddeus or “Ted,” and I can’t help but feel absolutely safe with him as he wraps both arms around me and we watch football together on his rather uncomfortable couch. We make fun of Adam Vinatieri missing one kick-goal or whatever-you-call-it after another.
I come home that night, thinking about the proposal I have yet to write for my Neuroscience Dissertation class. I am exhausted, and I don’t want to think of anything that could perturb a day well spent. I’m still craving that Field of Greens pizza we had at Berkeley Beer Garden; I can still taste the artichoke I never thought I’d like with the zesty tomato sauce, corn and mozzarella cheese. Ted and I must have devoured that sucker within 10 minutes. We both love Italian food, in general.
My mind snaps back to the reality of the present as I notice a gaping hole in the right thigh of my favorite, and only, pair of black leggings as I take them off and toss them into my hamper, along with my black lacey thong. As I put on a big light blue shirt, my eyes divert to the Review Nugget lying on the floor, at the foot of my dormitory bed. I try not to revert to the article I wrote about being emotionally abused three years ago because unlike the Dissertation Proposal I must write by Wednesday afternoon, the relationship was a lot less anxiety-provoking, and the Dissertation would at least be rewarding.
It was a Saturday, October 15, Max Messiah and I have been dating for a year and one month. He took me back to my dorm, and I sex-isled myself out of my own room to be considerate of my best friend, Katelyn, and her then-boyfriend, Frank. My wine-intoxicated ass didn’t think of what to come after Max took his two fingers, kissed them, and pressed them against my lips. It’s not the first time he did that, but it was still strange because we were not in public and I wasn’t wearing lipstick. He may as well shove me back into the room, where I’d be confined and crying the rest of the night and waking up with the same uncertainty of what he was really thinking about that night.
I wake the next morning with tired and weary eyes. The first thing I do is whip out the brown Rosary beads out from under my Vineyard Vines pajama shirt and say a Hail Mary and just pray that Max and I aren’t breaking up. Luckily Katelyn isn’t awake, or she could hear my soft pleas. My iPhone chimes as I read the usual text from Max, “Heading to Dave.” Dave is short for Davison Hall, better known as the regular dining hall.
The minute I see Max making his precious waffles, I walk up to him and dare to ask him, “are you okay this morning?”
“I’m fine, I just need time,” he says.
“Okay, well I’m a little concerned,” I say.
“Yeah? Well, so am I,” he curtly responds.
Time for what? This can’t be okay, and he cannot be fine.
He always sat down at a table like he consistently expected me to know where he was seated in the campus dining hall. I see him, eating his waffles without a care in the world. I feel this tingling sensation as if I’m going to cry but cry from anger. It burns and it makes its way slowly up to my quivering lips. My eyes must have been crazy-looking. I slam my tray consisting of a plain English muffin and strawberry yogurt with strawberry because he didn’t like it when I ate cottage cheese.
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on, or what?” I ask.
“I told you, I need time,” he says.
I stand my ground as I say, “No. You are going to tell me right here, right now.”
He didn’t even need to sigh as he asked me, “you’re attracted to me, right?”
I hesitantly responded, “yes.”
“When you touch me, do you feel a spark?” He asks.
“What?” I ask, still confused.
“My parents always ask me, ‘how come you never hold Personn’s hand?’ Or ‘How come you never put your arm around her?’” He explains.
“What? You put your arm around me last night while we were watching Fuller House, did you not?” I say.
“I guess. But even just the sole fact that I’m always uncomfortable kissing you goodbye outside Davison and all those things I just mentioned just goes to show that I never found you sexually attractive,” he says.
I am stunned. I swear my face looks like the face of someone in a horror movie seeing a ghost for the first time. But this time, I feel like I am in a horror movie, and I’m seeing the outer phantasmal shell of what our relationship was.
I immediately and aggressively run out of my wooden seat to go to the bathroom. My wide hips bang the chairs around me, but I do not care at that moment. I have no choice but to make myself throw up nothing but bile that leaves a foul taste in my mouth and a stinging sensation in my throat. This wasn’t new to me, except for the bathroom stall spinning. I felt like I was spinning, too, yet I was perfectly still, kneeling on the gross bathroom floor clinging to the porcelain toilet seat. Feeling like I was going to lose consciousness, it comes back to me, and I wipe my mouth with my sleeve.
“Are you okay?”
I nearly jump in surprise to see a girl with dark brown hair, a black V-neck t-shirt, black jeans, and black boots that looked eerily similar to the ones I bought for me and Max’s one-year anniversary “celebration.” She was looking at me with solemn, yet piercing eyes that gave me such an intense feeling of je ne sais pas all the way down to my stomach. Not again. I clutch my stomach. I clutch my stomach and look around the bathroom. She is still staring at me with that extreme gaze. It was like she had me by the throat. I couldn’t speak for what seemed like a minute and thirty seconds – maybe longer. I look down to notice she has a small tattoo on her left arm. My eyes were clear enough to notice it says, “everything is okay.” I immediately said,
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
Still, with that deep facial expression, she says, “don’t be afraid, everything is okay,” as she moves her left arm slightly as if she were showing me her tattoo. “Just get a cup of water. I’m Prisma.”
“Hi, um, Prisma. I’m Personn.”
Prisma finally tilts her head and smiles the tiniest bit as she says, “nice to meet you,” and walks out of the bathroom as if she just walked right through me. I take two steps to the middle sink to run some cold water and splash some on my face as I whisper to myself, “What the fuck just happened?” I mean, I knew my boyfriend was dumping me and I may have met a figment of my imagination, or simply someone I just never met before. I tentatively walk back out into the dining hall after I think I’m collected enough.
Oddly enough, the one person I’m trying to spot is this Prisma person, but she is nowhere to be seen, or maybe I’m just that oblivious, as Max always tells me. When someone tells you something repeatedly, you start to believe it. So, I didn’t fully believe it until he told me a fifth time when we were first starting out as a couple.
I then see Max, as he is sitting down with Dawn Narxis, a girl he mentioned to me that he so desperately wanted to talk to because he found her “interesting.” But now, I’m starting to know the real reason why. I angrily walk back to our table as she gets up from my seat and I pull my tray back from the left side of the table. I really want to flip my middle finger at her, but I know Max will just call me a “jealous, insecure bitch,” just like he did with Krista Van Delorean, who graduated last semester from our small college.
“So, how do you think I feel?” he asks me pompously.
“You know what Max? Shut up. I’m tired of being jerked around for the last time. I do everything I can to put myself in other people’s shoes. Do you think it’s fair for me? Do you think I deserve this? No. So call me when you’ve pulled your head out of your motherfucking ass.”
He sits in silence as I get up with my tray. He randomly says, “October is a bad time for relationships.”
I pause to look at him. I’m puzzled, but at the same time, I shoot him a sharp look and sharply say, “cut the crap. You’re full of it.”