Innocence ← Previous Story | Next story → Breathe Again
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James slammed shut the doors to his car, trying to drown out the nagging voice that was his girlfriend.
“James if you leave right now i swear don’t even bother tryna call me back”
He fumed. Couldn’t resist rolling down his window and yelling back “Bitch you live in my house” as he turned on the ignition, revved up the car, and shot out of the driveway.
“AT LEAST REVERSE PROPERLY YOU FUCKIN ASSHOLE,” she yelled back.
He couldn’t remember the last time he hadn’t felt angered by the sound of her voice. Why was he still here, trying to make the best of things. He needed to stop being lazy, get up off his ass, and kick her the fuck out. Cooking and cleaning was great, but it was not worth this bullshit she made him put up with. No more clubbing, no more drinking with his bros. No, she wanted him at home every night. AND TO DO WHAT? Bitch hadn’t even slept with him in weeks.
He mumbled to himself, not caring how deranged he looked as he sped onto the highway. In the distance, he saw the Brooklyn Bridge, gleaming lights enticingly calling him away the shithole into the city. Where the real party was at.
“I get home drunk, she tells me to fuck off cuz I’m drunk and she ain’t sleepin with no drunk guy. Get home sober, she says she isn’t drunk enough. Never gonna date no bitch again…”
His mental tirade continued as he approached the bridge. Tonight, its view was lost to him, his mind clouded over with dark and angry thoughts. James rolled down his window a bit, the crisp night air was refreshing. He hadn’t gone on a late drive like this in months. Couldn’t remember the last time that late drive had been solo. He was a generally social guy, he loved his friends and he had loved spending time with his girl. Driving into the city this late brought back memories – the last time he had done it, he remembered Nicki’s laughter filling up the car and feeling like the happiest man on Earth. He couldn’t remember what had been so funny now, probably one of her annoying prank phone calls. Back then, everything she had done was endearing, but now he could barely stand her. He wondered when he had stopped loving the way her smile was just a little bit lopsided, or when he had kissed away the frown lines on her face and the creases on her forehead. Times were stressful, but living together had never been this hard.
He was in the city now and felt himself getting hyped up for the night. Screw the relationship bullshit for one night, be single, and party. Just like he used to before he got so tangled up that all he could think about was that he was going to have to pay for Nicki to get bigger pants again, the super padded bras she was eyeing cost like $50 a piece, and that every time he looked over at her, she was wearing one of his shirts, tying her hair up in this ragged and morose way, and then stalking about the place saying that he did everything wrong.
See, he was doing it again. He hated what they had done with their life, and he – no, he really had to stop thinking about her. About this. Any of it.
The air blew through the car, in and out of James’s senses as he tried to calm himself down and gather his bearings. Everything was going to be okay. That’s what the breeze whispered to James as it blew by, and he found that there was an eerie calm settling upon him as he concentrated on breathing in and out. Nothing more, just the bright lights, the crisp air, the music, and the sense of serenity that muffled all of the city noises into one bearable beautiful melody.
As he pulled into the valet parking spot of @mber Lounge (Amber Lounge), he checked his phone and saw a text from Nicki. He felt himself scowl and tried to stop the immediate reaction. Without even reading, he had fallen so low that he couldn’t give her any credit. It was wrong of him, he knew, but he was just so frustrated. By everything. By his situation. He knew he was doing right but some part of him couldn’t help but accuse her decision for stripping him of his individuality. His liberty, his freedom.
Before his mind could wander fitfully farther, he gathered in his thoughts and glanced down at the phone, opening the text.
“breaking my trust”
That’s all it said. Three simple words and he almost lost his resolve to go into that club. Then he just got angry. “She’s always tryna do that. Play in my head, fuckin play mindgames with me”
He strode confidently toward the line at the door, gave a nod to the doorman who still remembered him from the days when he had been a regular here. As the line progressed, the bouncer walked over to him and tipped him over in the direction of the doorman in the front, the guy he vaguely remembered. The doorman waved him in with a brisk nod toward the entrance and James had just enough time to glance at the nametag before it looked too obvious. RICHARD, it said. Big serious capital letters that gave off a don’t-fuck-with-me kind of vibe.
“Say hi to the missy for me,” he heard as he walked in. James looked back and nodded at Richard, trying not to let his irritation show. What kind of idiot doorman refers to a girlfriend who isn’t walking in through the doors with him. Obviously, there is a reason. “Fuckin retarded asshole,” James thought.
Then he walked in and instead of uplifting his spirits, the music and the people just soured his mood even more. Right in front of him, hardly a foot away from the bar, there was some chick grinding some luckyass single motherfucker. She was really goin at it, bending down and grinding up against him real good. Her mouth open in a slight pant as she gyrated to the music. “No way she’d be doin that shit with him if they were dating”
Dejected, he walked over to the bar and ordered a shot of vodka. He had vaguely heard that drinks were half off for the duration of the song when he walked in. Or he coulda just been makin shit up but whatever, he needed a drink. When he turned around again, the couple was gone, dry sexing somewhere else thankfully. He scanned the room and thought about ordering another shot.
The music was great, but his mood just wasn’t up for it. He missed Nicki.
Whether it was this realization that directed his attention, or his sight that prompted his emotion, he wasn’t sure. But he found himself watching two people completely lost in the rhapsody of dance, and of music. The girl and the guy moved and breathed as one. He felt like if it had been silent, and they had only been dancing to the music in their heads, he could have heard their hearts beating in perfect sync. The girl looked carefree, no worries on her face. He flashed back to Nicki, to happier times. To when he had loved taking her out because together, they were unstoppable. Because they never had issues or things to nag each other about. Things changed, usually for the worse. But these two, couple or not, looked so genuinely happy that he found himself missing her.
He texted her back as he walked out of the club. “Only had a shot, driving home now”
Curled up in bed, wearing one of his warm, comforting sweaters, Nicki lay and wept. No makeup on, hair falling out of her pony left and right. She was a mess. Not even a hot mess, just a mess. She never knew what to say to him anymore, everything she said was wrong. Made him react the wrong way when all she was trying to do was be in a relatinship with him. But all he seemed to want from her was a woman to clean up after him now. She wasn’t even his girlfriend anymore. Her phone vibrated on the table next to their bed, and she reached over it to read “Only had a shot, driving home now”
A fresh round of tears threatened to leak out of her eyes. He was coming home. He wasn’t drunk, he was texting her back for once, and he was coming home.
She pulled herself out of bed and took off his sweater. She slipped on her own babydoll, the one in peach with a pretty bow around her waist that he had bought her. Then she went to the bathroom and heard her phone buzz again as she splashed water on her face, trying to get rid of the redness.
She still felt all wrong.
Nicki crossed the room to get the phone and collapsed right back onto the bed. Another text from him.
“I miss you”