“Why am I never enough for you, huh? Why is it that there is always something about me or what I do that isn’t satisfactory?”
“You’re over exaggerating, Aiden.”
“No, no I’m not. I always have to make sure that I’m exactly the way you want me to be, and I hate it! I thought that you loved me for who I am, but I was so wrong. You don’t love me one bit, you just love the idea of me, the idea that I’m exactly who you want."
“Oh, I have to stop? Am I stepping out of line, Rosella?”
“Yes, you are. Stop talking to me like this.”
“Truth makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t it? I wonder why.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that everyone around you is so focused on getting your approval, that they never ever tell you how they really feel.”
“Oh, is that so? And how do they really feel, genius?”
“They hate you! They curse your name behind your back because you have this personality that makes everyone want to be in your life, myself included. I wish I could just leave like every other guy did, but I can’t.”
Her slap stung like hell, my ears now ringing.
“Why can’t you leave? Surely there’s nothing holding you back, me being such a control freak after all. Well?”
“Because I love you! No matter how much of a control freak or a terrible person you may be, I will always love you! And I hate that.”
I walk out on her, both of us knowing that I’m coming back.
“Dude, she’s not good for you. You need to break up with her.”
“I’m trying man, but I love her. And as much as I can’t bear to say this, I can’t live without her.”
“Of course you can.”
Asher looks at me, his glasses slightly sliding off his nose.
I push it back up, and then he takes it off, just to put it back on again.
“I can’t, I need her.”
“No, you don’t. You don’t need her, you have me. And I say that you have to break up with her.”
“Oh, so you’re being a control freak too now? Great, my life is just great.”
“I’m trying to be a friend, alright? I’m trying to save you before she breaks your heart again.”
“Well, this isn’t what a friend would do. A friend would ask me to keep trying with her because she’s too good to let go.”
“I would have said that a year ago when it was true, and I would have meant it. It isn’t true anymore, Rosella has changed, and so have you. I just don’t want to see you get hurt again, okay?”
I look at him, immediately regretting calling him a bad friend when all he was doing was trying to help.
“Okay, I’ll break up with her.”
“What do you mean ‘you couldn’t’? All you had to say the golden words ‘I’m breaking up with you’ and that’s it. What is so impossible about saying that?”
“Pretty rich coming from you, ‘guy who can’t be in a relationship at all because he’s too afraid to try’?”
“Hey, don’t go too far, we’re talking about you here.”
“That’s all we ever do, isn’t it? Talk about me, all the time. ‘What is Aiden doing?’, ‘what did he screw up this time?’, ‘how does he feel about it?’ Maybe we need to start talking about you now.”
“There is nothing to talk about. I just don’t want a relationship right now.”
“Yeah, right you don’t want a relationship. I know you, Ash, you’re just scared.”
“Okay! Okay, I’m scared. I’m scared that no one will want to be in a relationship with me. Happy? Now let’s get back to the important thing, you and Rosella. Why don’t you just break up with her?”
“Why are you scared to be in a relationship? You’re an incredible guy and honestly, any girl would be lucky to have you.”
A light blush forms on Asher’s cheeks, but he shakes it off quickly.
“What? What do you want me to say, huh? That I’m unqualified to advise you on relationship matters, that I can’t commit to anyone, that I’ve been in love with…”
He stops talking abruptly and gets up from the sofa.
“In love with who?”
“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we fix your love life before discussing my practically non-existent one.”
“You’re in love with someone, and you didn’t even tell me? I thought we were friends.”
“It’s funny that you’re the one saying that, it really is.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Buddy, I feel like I don’t even know you anymore. You’re in love with some girl, and you didn’t even tell me. I can’t believe you.”
“It’s not – well – it’s complicated.”
“Of course it is, isn’t everything? Now, this conversation is far from over, but I need to go and break up with Rosella, so I’m leaving.”
As I turned to leave, I heard Asher sigh in relief.
Oh, I wasn’t letting him off the hook that easy.
I hold on to the wall as I inch towards Asher’s apartment, knowing that I will fall down if I let go.
I knock on his door, and he opens immediately, almost as he was waiting by it.
I let go of the wall, and my knees buckle. Asher catches me, almost as if he were expecting it, and leads me to the sofa, not saying a word.
“It was – it was terrible Ash. She said so many things, about how she knew I was the type to not commit, that I was just like every other guy who had left her, and how she should have broken up with me sooner. I – I don’t know what to do. How do I even begin to live the rest of my life without her?”
He lets me rant and cry on his shoulder, just offering generic words of comfort.
Before going to his bedroom to sleep, he gives me a hug, and I don’t let go of him.
As he pulls away, I notice that he’s crying too.
“What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”
“I just – I just hate seeing you in pain,” he says, hugging me again.
“I don’t know how I’d survive this without you, you’ve always been there for me man. I love you.”
He mumbles it back.
This time, when he pulls away, I notice for the first time, that his eyes look at me in a way I’ve never been looked at before.
I don’t look away.
I’m involuntarily pulled towards him, and now my face is only inches away from his.
He looks away.
“What – I thought you – I thought that…”
“You just broke up with the love of your life and you’re vulnerable. I’m not going to take advantage of you, especially not now.”
“I’m giving you permission to take advantage of me. So do it.”
“No, I won’t. I won’t stoop that low.”
I kiss him before he can say anything else.
He resists the kiss at first, but soon kisses me back, confirming that the feelings I had felt a few seconds had been felt by him too.
We don’t break the kiss as we move to his bedroom.
I wake up with a splitting headache, lying on Ash’s bed alone.
As the memories of last night come back in fits and bursts, my headache threatens to break my head in half.
How could I have lost control so much that I managed to sleep with Asher, my best friend since high school?
Why didn’t I stop myself at any point in the night?
I vaguely remember him not agreeing to kiss me, and me pouncing on him like some sort of an animal.
I cringe in embarrassment.
“I told you that you were vulnerable and taking advantage of you then would be wrong. I wanted our first time to be just perfect. Now you regret last night, don’t you?”
Asher sits down on the bed, looking apologetic.
“It was my fault entirely, what happened yesterday. I – I’m sorry. You’re right, I was vulnerable, I was just using you to forget Rosella. But –,” I take his hand, “I don’t regret last night, not one bit.”
He looks at me, surprised.
I go back to Rosella’s to get my stuff back.
As I pick up the boxes lying in the hallway one at a time, I feel content, happy that this part of my life is finally over.
Rosella stands at her door, looking at me.
I smile at her politely, and she smiles back.
As I load the last of the boxes into the elevator, I look back at her and say, “I hope you find someone, I really do. Someone who can understand you better.”
“I wish the same for you, Aiden.”
As the elevator door closes, I realize that I already found someone.
And I’m not letting him go.
It’s been a few months since I and Asher started dating and living together, and those few months have been absolute happiness, the kind I had never felt with anyone else before.
As we sit on the sofa, cuddling and watching a movie, I kiss his forehead, and he hugs me tighter.
“I love you, Asher.”
“I love you too Aiden.”