Leisurely, you drive to the airport return terminal while singing loudly to whatever bubblegum pop song is on at the moment. You pull up to the pick-up point where you see a throng of travelers waiting for their rides. You easily spot the slouched silhouette of your rather irritated boyfriend sitting on a bench next to his suitcase. His leg bounces quickly as he chews his nails, a habit that you once found endearing, but now looks quite disgusting.
You check the time. Perfect. As intended, you've arrived fashionably late.
Your boyfriend glances up and recognizes the color of your classic 68' red Chevrolet Camaro. You see his gaze glide over the body of the car, the look in his eyes both appreciative and oddly lustful. He had once studied your body in a similar manner, awhile back. You can't remember the last time he looked at you that way, but for the first time in a long time, you don't care.
He looks up at you and his face drops back into its scowl, as if he'd just smelled fresh sewage.
"You're late, Jesse," your boyfriend snaps.
"Oh, it's so good to see you too, Chris. Welcome back!" You reply cheerily. He always did hate it when you were sarcastic.
He huffs and opens the door roughly to put down the passenger seat and place his suitcase in the backseat. You would chastise him about being gentle with an older car, but you're not in the mood to be called a nag again.
Chris complains, "Would it kill you to be on time just once? Just every once in awhile? As a change up from every single day?"
Your eye twitches as you retort, "If punctuality is so important to you, then why didn't you call an Uber? Or a taxi? Oh wait, can you even afford one right now?"
His face flushes red as he attempts to recover from the low blow. You know he's sensitive about his finances, but any sympathy you might've once had for him has dried up with your tears.
"I'll be on my feet after this next interview." Chris mutters as he tugs his seat belt over to the latch. He never was very good at comebacks on the fly.
You decide to change the subject. "So how was the trip? Is your family going to be okay?"
As you pull out of the airport and onto the freeway, Chris goes into a long, drawn out story about every single thing that supposedly happened on the trip to his uncle's funeral. You deeply regret asking him such an open ended question and find yourself growing more and more restless with every minute you have to listen to him drone. You are almost off the freeway before you zone back in.
"-and that's why he only gave my cousin five dollars in the will, because if she wasn't mentioned at all, it could be seen as an oversight and she could sue for being forgotten in the document. He really did give her the middle finger with that one." Finally Chris said something interesting after his dissertation on the airports, their carpets, the delays, and every other possible thing that could've happened during a trip.
You ask, "What was the issue between them?"
Chris shifts uncomfortably in his seat. "My cousin made a Facebook post about how my uncle was cheating on my aunt while she was in the hospital."
"Oh?" Your eyebrow arches upward. How peculiar, you think to yourself. Must run in the family.
"And what do you think about what she did, Chris?" You ask maliciously.
He licks his lips, to lubricate the lies, and says nonchalantly, "My uncle was in the wrong but my cousin shouldn't have called it out publicly on Facebook like that."
You reply, "And what do you think she should've done?"
Perhaps it was the tone in your voice or the way you said it but he looks right at you and glares.
"What are you really asking?" He snarls. Finally, perhaps Chris realizes that he isn't as good of an actor as he thinks he is.
You ask the questions that had been burning on your tongue since you first found out. "How long have you been cheating on me, Chris? Did you really think I wouldn't notice?"
He has the audacity to look surprised as he splutters, "What-what the f-, what are you talking about?! Sleeping with who?! How could you say that?!"
You merely focus on the road as you coldly reply, "You can spare me the performance, Christopher, I know you've been sleeping with Alex Sajan since at least the beginning of the year."
Chris' mouth drops open and he becomes unusually quiet as it registers that you know.
After what feels like eternity, Chris is the first to speak.
"Why didn't you say anything if you knew, Jesse?" He asks you softly. "Why wait?"
You pause. "I had to be sure."
Both you and Chris sit in the tense silence as you wait for the light to change. You had pictured this moment in your head over and over, wondering how it would go, but you hadn't imagined how angry you'd still be. You thought that all those months of fuming and raging and crying had been enough to deal with the pain, but even now you still felt anger burning in your chest.
"How could you do this to me, Chris? After three years, you didn't even have the decency to tell me if something was wrong? What the hell is the matter with you?" You accuse him mercilessly. That is not even half of what you want to say.
Chris swallows and says, "Do you know how hard it was to have to beg you to move in while I looked for work? Basically being homeless when I lost my job? It was humiliating. I....I didn't feel good being with you, living with you for so long. And you know we haven't had that spark in a while. I just.....I just wanted to feel like myself again, like I could do anything."
You can't stop yourself from yelling at him. "So you cheated on me?!?! If you wanted a goddamn spark so badly why didn't you just f*cking ask?!? What the-"
"Careful!" Chris yells as you accidentally swerve into another lane. You quickly correct the car, but your sudden moves startle the old lady who was driving next to you. The responding honk only fueled your fury further and you show her the middle finger. You normally wouldn't do that, but you're starting to see red.
"Who the hell do you think you are, Chris?" You growl at him. "What was so bad about living with me that you had to crawl into bed with Alex?"
Chris sighs. "I just....with Alex, I feel wanted, desired. I didn't feel like a burden. I.....it was just...different."
You pretend that doesn't hurt you deeply as you reply, "If you felt like that you should've told me."
He turns to you incredulously. "What, like you're the understanding type?! You are always nagging me to do this and do that, flaunting how I couldn't pay you rent!"
You try not to bash his head against the dashboard as you say, "If you actually got off your video games long enough to help me with literally anything around the apartment, I wouldn't have had to!"
"Oh my god, would you stop being such a pain in the ass about the video games? They relieve my stress!" Chris pinches the bridge of his nose as if you are the source of his so-called stress. You are inches away from committing a very serious crime.
You cruelly sneer, "You really had it all, didn't you? You had me as your maid and Alex as your whore, all the while living RENT-FREE while you got to play your little video games all day long! What could have been so f*cking stressful about that?!"
Chris pales visibly at the tone of your voice. You've never shown him this side of yourself before, the wrathful and vindictive part of you that you'd made sure to hide throughout the entire relationship, in fact, in all of your relationships. And now he finally has a front-row seat to just how mean you could be.
"Pay, pay attention to the road," he mutters weakly. It's as though he knows exactly how to piss you off to levels of anger you didn't even know you had.
"Maybe I won't," -you pump the gas pedal viciously- "Maybe I'll drive us right off the road and into a streetlight."
His eyes widen as he realizes he doesn't know if you're serious or not. To him, maybe you will crash the car. Chris looks at you as if he doesn't even recognize you anymore. But then he turns his head to the side window.
"Where are we?" Chris looks around outside. "This isn't the way home."
You snap, "You mean MY home. You don't live there anymore."
He whips back to you and starts shouting. "WHAT THE F*CK DO YOU MEAN I DON'T-"
"You live with your mother now." You cut him off sharply as you turn into a residential neighborhood filled with identical houses. You're trying to find the right street again but you can't remember which turn it was. Stupid HOA, you think absently to yourself.
Chris curses under his breath as he whips out his phone and starts texting rapidly, no doubt asking his mother what was going on.
You find the right street finally but you have no trouble spotting the right house. It is not hard to miss. In front of his mother's home was a large pile of boxes and bags that a small crowd had gathered to pick through. You smirk proudly as you realize your plan was successful. Turns out no one can resist free stuff on the lawn, even in this suburban labyrinth.
It takes a few moments for Chris to glance up from his phone and see the commotion in front of the house.
"Is that my-" he begins to ask.
"Yes, it is." You reply sweetly.
His face transforms into an incredible expression of horror and fury, a memory you will cherish for years. Chris unbuckles his seat belt and is out the door in a remarkably short period of time. He'd never moved that fast while he was living with you.
As Chris runs to the mound containing his clothes, computer, etc., basically all of his material possessions to scream at the scavengers, you see his mother walk up to your car. She lowers her head to talk to you through the window and you catch a whiff of the oils she uses for headaches. The two of you used to bond over a shared interest in fragrant oils, but you suppose now that the friendship is over.
"Hey Jesse, just wanted to say sorry again for my son. I hope this will teach him a lesson that I guess he didn't learn from me." Her voice is soft and sad, and you suddenly realize that you are the only one who feels a sense of victory.
"I did what I had to do. In fact, I should've done it months ago," you finally tell her. She nods and walks back to the lawn chair where she could observe the spectacle unfold.
Chris manages to convince the crowd to disperse but a considerable amount of the items you'd dropped off in the morning are gone. The rest of the pile had been left out and trampled on, probably ruining what remains. You see some of the things you bought him over the last three years spill out onto the street: a mug, a blanket, and a few of those goddamn video games.
Maybe Alex can buy him some more, you think to yourself sardonically.
As he investigates the remains of his belongings, he turns to you with such a hateful look in his eyes that you remember your anger all over again.
He savagely spits at you, "Are you going to stick around to watch the show?"
You check the time again and grin, "No thanks, I'm late for my next appointment."