“Where were you last night,” Adam asked with that same smug look on his face he was wearing right before I belted him last week. He knew damn well where I’d been.
Adam’s my roommate. We’ve been living together for about two, no, three years now. Been best friends for a long time. Now all this shit’s happened. I guess I don’t have a clue as to what’s right or wrong anymore. On the other hand, I don’t think I should have to fucking worry about it right now, either. So I screwed his wife. Big deal. It’s not like she’s really his wife. She’s his ex-wife, and not even that damned attractive anymore, or good in bed I might add. It was just one of those things that happen. Y’know.
I didn’t really mean to do it anyway. Last week, I went over to Sharon’s. Just to talk. It’s not a weird thing at all for me to do that. Sharon and I’ve been best friends for most of our lives. Way before Adam ever came into the picture. I guess I’ve always depended on her to be there for me. Probably more than I should have. I wish I could take it all back. I wish we could all be friends again. It wasn’t worth it. Hell, I don’t even remember it that well. At the time, I was thinking of something else, bills I hadn’t paid, haven’t cleaned my car in a long time.
“Look. I’ve just come by to get some of my shit. I’ve decided to move out. I won’t bother you anymore. Just hate me from afar.”
“What?! It’s not enough that you’re fucking her every night. You gotta move in with her! You gotta wake up next to her! You gotta wake up next to my wife!”
“Look, Adam. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry…but I just can’t deal with this now.”
I regret that I hit him a few nights ago. It was a mistake. I just wanted to do the honest thing though. Adam has been too good a friend to me over the years for me to keep a thing like this from him. He deserved better. If you want to know the truth, hell, he deserved to take a swing at me…and I gave him that.
He was in tears when it was all over, just lying there on the floor. I don’t really remember that much either. Just that his voice kept getting louder and louder. It was enveloping me. I told him to stop. Next thing I know he’s down on the ground, lip bleeding, telling me to get out. I felt like such an asshole. I didn’t even notice that his wallop had drawn blood from me, until I’d already left.
I think he just gave up on me at that moment. Gave up on his best friend. I’ve never seen him like that. He’s one of those people who’d do anything for a friend, that really don’t know how to do for themselves, or to put themselves first. It never occurred to him that people don’t always do the right thing and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with him. Sometimes we just can’t help it. I still remember how he looked at me, his eyes filled with hurt, confusion, anger.
Sharon and I never meant to hurt him. That night I’d just gone over there to talk to her. Sharon and I have been friends since we were little kids, lived on the same block, played together, confided in each other, that kinda stuff. I never knew how lucky I was as a child to have her. Still haven’t learned to appreciate her I guess. I never had to try to be with her. That’s what was different. She was always there for me in a way no one else was. I guess she needed someone just as bad as I did. It’s odd that we never got together, that we never dated I mean. Growing up, two people couldn’t have been closer. We kinda shared our first sexual experience, too. Didn’t have sex together. We just, you know, sorta explored. I guess we were twelve or thirteen then. I can almost remember being that little kid again. I can almost remember when everything still felt new and wonderful. Scraped knees, rusted bike, perfect.
My life over the past coupla years has been so complicated. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t ever have to grow up? I wish Sharon and I were still eight years old playing in the backyard, that I was forced to play with a doll, which was supposed to be our little daughter, in exchange for her playing hide and seek with me later. I was able to understand the fairness of that agreement, that we took turns playing each others games. Life made sense. Whatever happened to that person back then? What happened to that person who knew so much and grew to believe in so much? I hate who I am now. That’s an awful thing to say, but it’s true, just not enough to give up yet. Not enough to admit all my dreams were bullshit.
I met Adam in college. We became best friends instantly. Not necessarily because of any great similarities between us, although we both wanted to be writers, but because he wouldn’t allow us not to be friends. It’s funny, the first time I’d met him through a mutual friend he annoyed the hell out of me. He wouldn’t stop talking. I don’t know which bothered me more, his naïve beliefs about life, or the fact that I saw a spark in him that I knew wasn’t in me. I knew before reading any of his work that this guy has what it takes to be a great writer. Sometimes we’d talk for hours about philosophy, religion, world events, whatever. He was just so anxious to find out and know everything, and I fed off that. And, I believe, to some extent, he found my cynicism curious and fun to debate. Someone like him needs someone like me to prove his bright ideas to, and I enjoyed listening to his dreams.
Yesterday, I sat in front of my typewriter, a Smith Corona 3000 with correction ability. I thought I’d felt the itch. If you’re a writer, you know what I mean. One moment there’s nothing, then, all of a sudden INSPIRATION! Turns out it was just anxiety because there I sat. What I wouldn’t give for that feeling again, to feel like Adam, to feel alive, to create, to love.
I can honestly say I love Sharon. Not in a relationship sort of way, but something more intimate. It’s something I’ve never felt for any other woman, not even my wife. My and my wife’s relationship was based more on habit than love. Our marriage was a contract agreement. It worked though for what it was. She was the bread winner. I was the one always eagerly awaiting INSPIRATION. It was always easy to do that, to use that as an excuse. After writing As Seen through My Eyes, I was a cocky bastard, a published writer. But it was easy. I basically wrote my personal thoughts through the voice of my characters. Each character was an extension of emotion from within me. Come to find out that book was all I had to give. People say everyone has at least one good book in them. Well, if that’s true. I was lucky enough to write mine, and that’s it.
Carol died a very short time after the split between Sharon and Adam. Isn’t that weird? Isn’t it odd how tenuous life can be? Lives can change in the blink of an eye. One minute a man is comfortable with his life and unaware of how content he really is, then Bam, from out of nowhere, everything turns topsy-turvy. Would you believe there were times when I actually considered leaving Carol? It turns out I probably needed her more than she ever needed me. I had bought my Smith Corona 3000 with correction ability one month after Carol’s death. I thought I’d write a book for her. Sort of a way to keep the promise I had made to her and myself so many times before. It turns out her death didn’t make my lack of natural talent any less of a lie.
Adam and Sharon have been divorced for about three years now. They met on one of my trips back to Johannesburg for the holidays. I’d always go back home for my breaks and see my family and Sharon. The university wasn’t more than about six or seven hundred miles away, so I’d drive back. I always thought it was pleasant to take those long drives. Some people can’t stand the hours of cement in front of them, but I’ve always found the repetitive scenery of the interstate to be relaxing and almost hypnotic. That Christmas Adam came back with me. He said his parents went on some trip that he was invited to go on, but declined. I never believed that. I don’t think his folks cared much for him. He never really mentioned them much, and, when he did, his good attitude about them seemed put on for my benefit. It seemed sad that parents couldn’t find their way to take pride in an accomplished, intelligent man like Adam.
Anyway, we arrived back home at about three o’clock in the afternoon. My parents were happy to see me and I introduced them to Adam. A short time later, after supper, Sharon came over to welcome me back home. She was working at the gift shop on the square then, and taking some college courses at the high school. She barged in the front door without giving it a knock and ran and attacked me with a hug. Adam just stared at her as she began questioning me, “How’re ya doin’ honey?! Did ya miss me?! Bring me anything?!”
No, I didn’t bring her anything. Later on that evening, I had to explain my and Sharon’s relationship again to Adam. “No she’s not my girlfriend. She’s just a good friend who happens to be a girl. We’re close, but just not that way.”
He sort of understood, and I gave him the okay to try to get to know her better, as he put it. I was actually kind of intrigued by the idea that my two best friends get involved with one another. Well, needless to say, they did get involved. Each trip home Adam began going back with me, and each trip became more frequent at his request. He fell in love with her quickly. Can’t really say I blame him, I guess. Sharon has that feminine quality about her that makes men want to be around her all the time, to take care of her, even though she doesn’t need to be taken care of. Everyday after school became an inquisition about Sharon.
“What does she like to do,” he would ask. “What’s her favorite flower?” Ah, love. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
December 22, about a year and a month after Adam and Sharon first met, Sharon came at me from out of the blue with a question. She asked me if I loved her. We were setting alone at her home, watching television. I didn’t think anything of it.
I said, “Of course I love you. You know that.”
Then she did something that I’ll never forget, something she hadn’t done since we were kids. She took my hand and put it on her waist. I looked at her surprised.
“Haven’t you ever thought about it,” she asked. She then leaned in and kissed me.
I kissed her back, and my left hand moved up the small of her back.
“What about Adam,” I asked.
“He doesn’t have to know.”
I kissed her again, and my hands began to wander across the nape of her neck, over her breasts, around her tummy. I took off her blouse, and she helped me unbutton my shirt. I knew then what we were doing was wrong. In that room, on that couch, I deflowered Sharon. It wasn’t the first time for me, but it was the first time with someone I cared about. She told me that she always knew she wanted me to be her first. She wanted it to be special. Awkward was more like it. Afterward, I felt I’d betrayed my best friend with my sister.
We’d decided it would be best if we never told Adam because he might not understand, not that I understood. Several months later, Adam asked Sharon to marry him. They were married after graduation, and by that time I had begun dating Carol. The incident had been forgotten as surely as it had never happened. Now, here I am, what seems like a hundred years later reliving the goddamn past.
The thing is what I said about Sharon isn’t entirely true. She still is really beautiful, and the part about her not being good in bed, that’s debatable I guess. The past several days being with Sharon, I’ve actually entertained the thought that maybe Sharon and I were meant to be. We’ve basically spent our entire lives together in one way or another. I saw her through her divorce and she saw me through Carol’s death.
God, how I needed her then. Carol may not have been the love of my life as she had always wanted to be, but she loved me, and she believed in me. Our relationship was good in that I never thought I could feel the way you’re supposed to for someone when you marry them, so I never missed it. I got bored, but it was something. After our marriage, I became comfortable. Carol was the ambitious type and spent long hours at work and when she got home, was too exhausted to do anything but sleep. She was low maintenance, and easy to keep happy. She just always wanted me to write that second book, and it was for me that she wanted it. Sometimes I resented her for not being my inspiration, selfish bastard that I was. When I lost her I never knew how much I needed her in my life, because she was my excuse not to succeed. As long as she was in my life, I had something else to live for. Now over the past coupla years I’ve realized just how empty my life is and how old I’m getting. I need to do something while I still can.
Now Sharon has opened this door from my past, and it scares the hell out of me that I may want to walk in. This drive home feels peaceful. My car is my favorite place to think. Sharon asked me to move in with her a coupla days ago. I told her I was going to stay at my parents for awhile to sort things out. I wondered why, after all these years, she would want to start a relationship other than what we have. Maybe she’s just feeling old like me and wanting to cling on to the past. Is that wrong to want to be young again? Not necessarily to be young again, but to be who we once were before life made our decisions for us. Sharon married a man who she thought was fun and exciting at the time, but didn’t love, and I married a woman who was my backbone when I didn’t have one. What a pair we make. It just might work. I guess I’ll move my Smith Corona 3000 with correction ability over to Sharon’s tonight. This time I’ll set down and not think about it, but write. And I’ll dedicate this story to Adam in apology. My wife wouldn’t mind.