Growing Pains

Growing Pains

I see her standing there, waiting outside my window. I know I shouldn’t go running to her. It’s the first time I’ve seen her in real life — as opposed to through a series of angry text messages — in weeks.

I look at myself in the mirror. My face, just beginning to age, stares back at me. Is that a gray hair? I sigh and release the strand of hair. When did I get so old? College is already a distant memory, and I’m just living day to day. My job is boring, even though it keeps me steady. I wish I could live without it, but there’s nowhere to go. I thought I would have an important job, making change in the world. Instead, I work a dull, entry-level job. How am I supposed to do this? How am I supposed to be mature when all I want to do is run and hide?

I don’t know what I want from Tara now. I don’t know what she could possibly give me, after betraying me like that. After not telling me — her girlfriend of almost a year — that she was married. Was it my fault? I feel like I should’ve been able to guess, but it was her who made the choice to cheat.

How can I face the pain I accidentally caused Joy?

I start heading for the stairs to talk to Tara. Three weeks ago, she would’ve come in herself with her key. Instead, she lied. Now, I’m opening my door, and there she is. I have to stand my ground with this conversation. If she cheated on Joy, then she’ll cheat on me.

“I can’t believe you did that,” I tell her.

Tara stands in front of me, her long hair waving back and forth like a willow tree. She’s Caucasian, while I’m Japanese. Her body is slender. Her neck is skinny too, in comparison to my fat body. I don’t say it negatively, just as an aspect of my body. Either way, I can’t help envying her, despite my outwardly body positive attitude. She always seemed too perfect. And now I know she’s not, because a perfect person would have never hurt me that way.

“It wasn’t even me. I didn’t know. I couldn’t have known because you lied to me,” I say.

She blinks, almost surprised by my brutality. How could I be anything but angry, with what she did to me and Joy? She’s beautiful, at least by standards of society. Of course her flawless exterior that made me so jealous every time I looked at her, would hide a rotten inner core.

“I hate thinking about that day,” I say. That day, of course, being Christmas Eve, when I found out that the beautiful girl I’d fallen for and was dating, was married. I’d gone to her place with a surprise gift, even though she’d told me she was spending it by herself. She’d lied, of course.

“Me too,” she tries to offer up. Tara, playing her mind games, twisting a lock of perfect, hazelnut hair. Like she didn’t know perfectly well about Joy. About her wife. About that ring on her finger, hidden in a pocket every time we kissed. I’m so betrayed, but at the same time, I want to go running back to her. Nobody ever told me that adult life could be so complicated.

“It’s not the same for you!” I snap. “Tara, I loved you. I did. We could’ve been happy together. I still want you,” I confess. She looks so pathetic in the cold, winter air. She’s only wearing a hoodie, and she leans into herself. She stares at the ground, her eyes hollow. I think she’s been crying too.

“Then take me back! I never loved Joy, and now she’s filling for a divorce just because of one mistake.” She tries to reach out for me, but I pull back. I turn to the side. I can’t let her know I want to take her back so much. I try to keep my head up, but I just want to go to her. I want to comfort her. I almost step forward, but I turn it into a step backwards.

“You lied to me, Tara. I can’t accept that.” It’s the first time I’ve talked to her since it happened, and now we’re already getting into a public fight. “I don’t want to be the other woman in your divorce. You can’t come running to me now that you’ve ended things with your wife.” I have to stand my ground, I try to remind myself.

“We got married too early, I’m only twenty-seven. Kat, I’ll do better. I swear.” Now, she’s crying, and I feel bad, but I have to stand my ground.

“I can’t do this,” I tell her. “Please go.”

“I can’t leave you. Then, I’ll be alone. I don’t have anywhere to go — Joy kicked me out of our apartment.”

“You told me she was a roommate, not your wife. Which is why we always, always, always went to my place. Fuck you, Tara. Go back to your parents’ couch.” I am just trying to getting out all of the hurt and the betrayal of the last few weeks, but I never want to hurt Tara.

Because I never like hurting someone I love.

Shouldn’t she feel that too? Shouldn’t she understand how disgusted I feel with myself? Shouldn’t she understand that I feel like I’m the one who ruined their relationship, as opposed to Tara?

The way Joy looked at me, as if it were my fault that her marriage was fractured, hurt. A lot. I mean, I didn’t know. I would never, ever, want to do that to someone, wittingly. Not after my first girlfriend did the same to me.

Am I just terrible at attracting people? Do I want to have people who want to hurt me pretend to love me? Because that’s what it feels like. All I want is someone to love me and to keep me safe.

“I’m sorry.” I want to forgive her. But I know I can’t. “You made a choice,” I tell her and turn back. I slam the door behind me, trying to conceal the tears in my eyes. She tries to stop the door from closing, but I don’t let her. When I get into my apartment, I drop my keys on the bedside table and curl up to sob.

The End

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