“Well, that was dramatic.” Ripley grimaced upon her two friends, Alison and Lia, who stood slack-jawed at the event that had just occurred in the trio's cramped college apartment. They sat amongst a hole in the wall, scattered medical books belonging to Alison, and an array of broken dishes that lay around. Lia’s artwork had avoided the disaster by being in a separate room and Ripley’s laptop seemed to have a brush with death but was okay.
The center of this situation, Alison, nonchalantly brushes some of the rubble out of the way. She huffs taking in the destruction, “I knew he was gonna break up with me but I didn’t expect the scene, especially since he was the one cheating.” Alison knelt down to pick up the tumbled books, Lia sympathetically placed a hand on her friend's shoulder and began to gently pick up the garbage. Ripley surveyed the surrounding chaos. It was just before Christmas break and the three were ready to venture to their respective homes for the holidays, the thing they had least hoped for was the very emotionally charged break up of Alison and her now ex-boyfriend. “Then again, Justin has always been dramatic. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.”
“You were dating an actor. I think that was your first red flag", Lia jokes with Alison. Several minutes ago she was getting ready to call the cops and kick the angry boyfriend out of the apartment, but was now enjoying the drop in energy with her two friends. Lia had fixed Alison up with Justin. This was not her idea but rather Alison’s and may have been out of poor judgment at the time. Alison had met Justin at one of Lia’s art shows and had initial chemistry with the guy. Lia’s earliest concern arose from Alison’s schedule and Justin’s lack of one. The artist thought it would be good to entertain her friend’s interest in someone who was the total opposite of her. While Justin often wanted to go to parties, Alison was in medical school and enjoyed staying home and watching movies. While Justin thrived on being the center of attention, Alison would skip anything that put too heavy a focus on her. If Alison was spending a night studying, Justin was texting and calling her repeatedly. This progressively annoyed Alison and further annoyed Justin. The cheating came as no surprise to Alison and Lia in the wake of this.
“You’re the person I would have picked last to date someone in the theater.” Ripley walked over to the two and started helping them while eating a bag of chips. Her smirk was evident as Alison lightly rolled her eyes at her friend's joke. Despite the sarcastic comment and withdrawal, Alison and Lia knew she meant well in all reality. Ripley’s words were meant to diffuse and lighten the situation instead of making it worse. “Remember how when you were in undergrad you complained about artists and how lazy they were? I really believed that would stick and you wouldn’t soften up on that.” Ripley laughed at this and Alison lightly elbowed her, the two snickering together.
“I think she softened up after she and Thomas were together for a bit.” Lia smiled as the other two girls had swift expression changes at the mention of the boy's name. Ripley had a smirk that mirrored Lia’s and Alison had a stoic look on her own face as she tried to ignore the two. Alison quickly thought of how to respond to the comment. It caused a sense of warmth to grow along with a cold reminder of how much she had changed in the years since the relationship and now into medical school.
“Thomas was...well special.” Alison stopped, ruminating on the memories. She had wondered how he would react to her being in medicine. There were so many things she wanted to ask him since he was gone but she had buried herself in work to avoid it. “He’s gone now though, and that doesn’t matter.” Alison cuts the silence off with these brief words. Her ability to avoid getting into deep conversations with friends had become a talent. “We need to finish cleaning this up. I’m sure you guys have to study and I have work tonight. I’d rather us not have broken crap around the apartment.”
“Thanks a lot”, Thomas shoves his hand in his pockets. Alison could be annoying in every possible way but this time she had gone too far. Her ego had the habit of speaking for her in public and often took unrestrained boundaries in making herself look like the smartest person in the room. When this happened it barely seemed like she was talking out of her mouth but more so her rear. It often ended with her having to put someone else down, namely him, to present herself to others. The young man had reached the boundaries of his long-tested patience.
Alison tries to match Thomas’s stride. “Thomas, I’m sorry”, as much as Thomas could sense her sincerity, it rotted his core that this was a repeated occurrence, and even though she had improved it would be exhausting waiting for her to totally change. He was relocating which would make the relationship difficult as was, but in that time what would happen? Would she become more of an egotistical monster in medicine? After all, doctors were notorious for their superiority complexes. Would he change and not want to deal with this? Watching his parents, years apart changed your perspective on a relationship. The questions would pile up over time, and there would be plenty of it sitting ahead of them.
“No, you and your stupid freaking ego.” He spat in anger at the girl's childlike apology. She was following him closely, and though he didn’t want to leave her alone on the street, he so badly wanted to be alone. In her own way, she was spoiled and found it difficult to think of someone besides herself.
“You listen! You don’t get to talk down to me in front of our friends! Whatever your problem is with yourself, don't dump it on me.” As this came out of Thomas’s mouth he regretted the tone he was taking with her especially since tears were now welling up in her eyes. He didn’t want to hurt her but she somehow picked the exact thing to get under his skin. His irritation with her had grown to outweigh his devotion to her.
It’s completely silent, both are trying to think about what to say next. The air is filled with tension and thickness of what will conspire next and the way. Was it over or did they just not want it to be? Were they stuck or was every road exhausted? A bridge was about to collapse before the couple. Thomas could no longer be the ever-so-patient pillar if Alison refused to be the other. Between the relationship and her ego, his strength had failed.
The girl’s voice was soft and pleading, “I’m not trying to, I had no idea I was doing it either.” As Alison spoke Thomas felt a flame of rage grow in him. He is agitated immediately. It felt as though every time she opened her mouth he wanted to tell her not to. If she could only be silent for several minutes, Thomas may have collected his thoughts and been more composed, then again if she didn’t learn his boundaries now, what use was it for him to stay?
“....You know what you do?” Thomas hissed out. He was tired and had no patience left.
“What?” Alison's voice was frustrated and filled with both worry and defense.
“You think you’re better than me, you think you’re better than everyone!” Thomas paused after yelling this. “Just because you have thought out what you want to do and I don’t doesn’t make that the truth. Inside, me and everyone else see you’re just some nerdy girl who no one liked growing up and uses that as an excuse to be a self-absorbed piece of crap now!” Thomas, now heavily breathing and looking into tear-stained eyes, wasn't sure if he appreciated the strength he had just wielded or hated the bullying he had just done. He wanted to forget the way she was looking at him right now, he never wanted to have this image painted in his mind ever again.
Alison's mouth gaped slightly, she was now crying unsure of what to do. She sniffled and bit her bottom lip, her chest was heavy. Turning around and walking away, her feet clicked the pavement in a solid rhythmic beat. Thomas watched her. He called her name as she picked up the pace and tread faster. Unsure of what to do, he watched Alison walk into the dark and away from him. Both left into the night feeling more hollow than when the night had started.
Alison heard the beeping of a heart monitor in the background. Her bag was thrown over her shoulder as she was now making her way out into the cold of the December morning. She flips her wrist so that her watch lights up. It read ‘1:00 AM’, in bright, analog, digital letters. The cool air of the night brushed her face and played with the tendrils of her hair in a way she would never let a person in the world do. She liked being alone at this time, it set her apart from others in her life. It was a strong reminder of how she was an individual soul. The people she saw each day as she left the hospital were also individual souls and should be seen as more than a medical case.
As she exited the hospital she thought about her day and the apartment of friends who waited for her. She dated Justin in hopes to move on from Thomas. Knowing of the guy's rebound status, made her feel dirty, less than stellar in terms of character. If there was genuine interest in Justin it was based on a shared love of art, but ceased to go further than that. No shared experience, little in terms of personality, and on both parties was a lack of interest.
Alison watched the street lights pass in her car. All she could hear in her mind were Thomas' words on her own character and how she would carry that criticism for her life. She failed in terms of character this time. It had been two and a half years since she even attempted a relationship but at this point had shown her dire lack of interest. Between school and the loss of Thomas, it comes to her mind that it may be better to avoid relationships altogether than to indulge in them. She was good at being solitary, content with the status of being alone, it was nothing to her. As the car parks on the street, she sees the light still on. Unsurprisingly, her friends are more than likely awake at this hour. Even with those who leave as she is changing, she is thankful for the friends that remain.