I’m so angry and upset that I can’t speak. I’ve never cheated on Peter, we’re together all the time already and I can’t believe he doesn’t trust me. I don’t want to be around him right now. I head out for a run to try and calm down.
I thought I was doing so well. I’ve not been pressuring him. I’ve been there for him, I’ve made sure we spend a lot of time together. I thought I was making him feel more secure, I thought his confidence was increasing again. I tell him I’m crazy about him all the time, I tell him he’s hot. I show him how sexy I think he is.
Has leaving him to initiate any fooling around left him undesired? Have I backed off too much? Is his head more fucked than I can understand?
Do I want to win him over? Should I cut my losses now? Can we survive the summer? Do I want to? Was I telling the truth, do I want to be free this summer?
My head gets fuzzier and fuzzier with questions and instead of my head clearing I’m churning everything up. I run and run and try and calm down but I can’t. I need to talk to him.
I run fast back to the house and straight into our room. It’s empty, of course he didn’t just sit around waiting. I grab my phone but his is next to it. No sign of anyone downstairs. I message Eric and Brian to see if they’ve seen him and then shower again and get dressed.
I get on with my homework and the day passes quietly. No sign of Peter and no answer from any of my friends. I start to feel pretty down about it, like they’ve already taken his side. It’s only been a few hours but it feels like last year all over again.
I carry on working but I get more and more frustrated. I know I was the one who walked out but I can’t believe he’s stayed away so long. To put it out my head I rerun lines for the festival and forget being myself for a bit. I give up on speaking to Peter tonight and go to bed.
I do cry a little. Not at the thought of losing Peter already but at the frustration of failure. I was just, just letting my feelings loose and it was all a mistake. I should never have trusted him again. I knew I would end up hurt. I’m so angry with myself.
When I’ve worked myself up so much that my head might explode and I’m all cried out I give in to sleep.
I don’t wake when Peter comes in. I guess I was totally exhausted and he was really quiet. It’s really weird to wake without him wrapped around me. At least he’s here at all.
I get us to piss and brush my teeth. I look like shit, my eyes are a mass of gunk and my skin is still blotchy. I rinse my face and sigh. I’ve no idea what to do next. I don’t know what is real and what is in my head. I guess I need to find out what he’s thinking.
Peter is fast asleep and stinks, he must have been drinking a lot. I leave him and go and workout downstairs. I work out for ages and spend a long time in the basement shower. When I go upstairs everyone is sat at the table having breakfast together. They fall quiet as I walk through, no one looks at me or greets me confirming my fears.
I go up to my room and spend time doing stupid things like reorganizing my clothes and rewriting notes that I was already happy with. I need to get out of here but don’t want to walk through all of them if they’re judging me. I just want to disappear.
I can’t believe I’m such a pathetic mess. I’ve been doing so great mentally recently. I can’t believe I’m reduced to crying on the floor of my dressing room after a couple of weeks with Peter. I don’t understand what is going on with me. It wasn’t even a proper fight.
As I lie in a heap feeling sorry for myself Eric comes in.
“Wow, you’re a mess.” Eric says pushing the door open and staring at me on the floor.
“You talking to me?” I ask.
“We have the festival this week, I have to talk to you.” Eric says.
“If it wasn’t for that you’d not be?” I ask.
“Probably not. Why didn’t you tell me? You told me you were having issues but you didn’t tell me you’d already gone elsewhere.” Eric says.
“Peter was right wasn’t he? You all just tolerate me for what you can get. None of you actually want to be my friend.” I spit.
Eric stares down at me not saying anything, but not denying it.
I run downstairs.
“Fuck all of you. I’m done.” I shout at the group of former friends sat at the table and head out the door.
I drive to the mall and buy a new phone. I text Sal and tell her not to give my new number to anyone. I switch my old one off. I’ve given notice on my contract. I have a look at property listings in my area and contemplate selling the house. I wonder what I can do for the rest of the semester. I don’t want to be in a house full of people who hate me. I could use the apartment but even that feels too close. I really don’t want to be in a hotel, I don’t want to waste the money.
I drive around for a while, utterly aimless. I can’t believe it’s all happened again. I try so hard with these guys. I just don’t get why they don’t like me. I’m finding it really hard to let this anger go. Maybe Jay has the right idea transferring.
I go back home. No one is on the ground floor. I head to my room. No sign of Peter. I pack up a bag with a weeks worth of clothes and toiletries. I add bed linen and towels and gather up my books and electronics.
In the apartment I unpack and try and settle in. I head out to buy groceries although I have no appetite. Back inside I put everything away. I’m glad I had the locks changed after the Ray incident so no one can come in.
The next morning I go to classes and then make my way to the drama department for the festival. It’s the monologue today so just Eric acting but I have to be there for panel questions afterwards. The performance is in a studio rather than theatre. A fair number of people have come to watch, several from Eric’s classes. I watch the play before ours and really enjoy it. The questions from the panel are not too bad and I worry less.
Just before Eric goes on prof comes in and sits next to me. I give him a big grin. Eric does a terrific job, I knew he would. He comes and sits beside me for the questions and we do our best. Once done we head outside and prof follows.
“Great job Sandy.” Prof says giving me a hug. He shakes Eric’s hand too and tells us he’ll be back tomorrow, he has to run to another venue.
“You did a great job. See you tomorrow.” I say to Eric and make to leave.
“Are you seriously throwing all your friends away?” Eric asks.
“Yesterday showed I never had any to throw away. Now none of you have to pretend to like me to my face.” I say walking faster.
“You really think that?” Eric asks.
“I messaged all of you multiple times this weekend asking if you’d seen Peter, asking if you’d let me know he was okay. None of you answered. None. Then you all ice me out again for no reason. You know what I just don’t care. You all believe the worst of me. I don’t need friends like that.” I say and run off.
On Tuesday our play slot clashes with the class I have with Peter which is great, I won’t see him in either place. This time we’re performing in one of the theaters. It’s pretty busy and again it goes well despite Eric and I not even speaking before we go on. I feel good afterwards. It felt good to be acting again. The thought of leaving school and going back to full-time acting is on my mind a lot at the moment.
Prof again comes to see me afterwards to give his congratulations.
“Come see me in office hours next week whatever happens.” Prof says.
“Sure. Thanks so much for your encouragement. I loved the writing, it was hard and Eric helped a lot with the rewrites, so much so he has co credit.” I say.
“Well you both did a great job, writing and acting. More acting noses out of joint this year I think.” Prof says laughing before heading off.
“Thanks Alexander for including me in this. You really stretched me. I’ll be really sorry if this is the last time we work together.” Eric says.
I walk away.
My anger bubbles inside me for a few days. Classes, gym, loneliness are again the routine. No one calls round. I don’t see anyone at lunch. I know I’ve cut myself off and I can’t blame them for not trying. I push all of them out of my head and heart and turn back to ice.
On Friday I slip into my class with Peter at the last moment and sit well away from him. I feel really weird, as soon as it’s over I begin to bolt but Peter catches me. I look down and he’s handcuffed us together as if in some stupid frat prank.
I don’t say anything until we get outside.
“Let me go, now.” I say.
“Not until we sort everything out.” Peter says.
I don’t say anything. I’m done. I’ve been too quick to apologise when I’ve not been in the wrong in the past just to smooth things over but I’m not doing that this time. My anger is gone, other than the anger at being trapped.
Peter leads us over to sit on some grass.
I face away from him checking email on my phone, still waiting to hear about tomorrow for the two hander play. The news is positive, we’ve got the first timer award so are doing it again tomorrow in contention for the main prizes. Well not really, we have the earliest spot but it still feels good. I forward the message to Eric and tell him if he wants a lift what time to meet me at the car.
Peter watches me not saying anything and I carry on ignoring him.
“Ever plan on talking to me again?” Peter asks.
“Get on with it. I have an early start tomorrow so want to get an early night.” I say quietly.
“What happened baby? Why did you do it? Was it because we weren’t fucking? Why Patrick? He’s not your type. I know you fucked on spring break but I didn’t think you liked him that way. Why did you bother getting back with me when you were seeing him the whole time?” Peter asks.
I look at him baffled.
“Why are you making up so much shit about me?” I ask quietly.
“I’m just trying to fill in the blanks. You owe me that much.” Peter says.
“I owe you shit. I suggest you let me go and never come near me again.” I say.
“I don’t get it. Did you do it just to get rid of me? Alexander please tell me why.” Peter pleads.
“I didn’t do anything wrong.” I say quietly.
“Yes you did. I trusted that we were exclusive and you were fucking someone else.” Peter says.
“What exactly can I do to get unlocked?” I ask.
“Just tell me about the cheating. I just need to know.” Peter says.
“I have cheated twice in my life, both times on Jay. Once with you, once with Blondie. You already knew about both events.” I say beginning to lose it.
“You are being so frustrating.” Peter says.
I just sit and wait. I do not need to justify anything. I have not done anything wrong. I don’t know why Peter has made up all this crap. It starts to rain heavily.
“Unlock me so I can ride home.” I say.
“Only if you promise to talk to me when we get there.” Peter says.
“Fine.” I lie.
“I have my car, your bike can go on the back.” Peter says.
We walk to where my bike is and frustratingly Peter doesn’t unlock me until we get back to his car. He fixes my bike to the rack on the back of his car and we go home.
I put my bike away and head upstairs. Peter follows me in to the apartment.
“Do you want coffee?” I ask.
“No thanks, can I borrow a towel?” Peter asks.
I indicate the bathroom and make myself a hot drink. Peter comes out and dries my head. I smile. It was such an intimate thing to do.
“You feel like talking now I’ve unlocked you?” Peter asks.
I stand looking at him, sipping my drink.
“Nothing to say. I’m done with all of you fake shits.” I say.
“Whenever we’ve messed up we’ve always talked it out before and forgiven each other.” Peter says.
I stare at him.
“Baby I don’t get it. We always come clean and apologise. Why not this time?” Peter asks.
“You falsely accuse me, dump me, spread lies about me to our friends and then come here expecting an apology. You are unbelievable. Just get out.” I say.
“Why are you being so stubborn about this?” Peter asks.
“You are the one insisting you know where my dick has been better than I do.” I say.
“There’s no point lying about it. Barley told me he and Patrick split up because of you.” Peter says.
“Patrick dumped Barley because he wants to fuck around in his last few weeks of school. Nothing to do with me.” I say calmly.
“Patrick admitted it to Barley! Why can’t you admit it to me. We can’t get past it until you do.” Peter shouts.
“I’m not going to lie to shut you up. Just go. Please Peter, just go.” I say quietly.
Seeing him is killing me. Having him accuse me of lying and cheating over and over is just too much for me to handle. He promised not to hurt me yet he’s left me with nothing. I can’t continue here anymore.
I can’t cope being in the same space as him for a minute longer. I go into my room and close the door. I collapse onto the bed and let the tears come. I sob and sob and am a total mess. I cry so much I get hiccups. My pillow is soaked with tears and snot. I just can’t stop.
Exhaustion takes over and I sleep.
In the morning I shower and dress. Peter is asleep on the sofa. I leave him there, I don’t want to face him.
Eric is waiting for me downstairs.
“You don’t look good. Are you okay to do this?” Eric asks.
“I’ll be fine, might need some extra makeup.” I say.
“Did you two sort things out?” Eric asks.
“Can we just get through this morning without talking?” I ask bitterly.
“Fine.” Eric says sadly.
We get the notes from the original round and discuss a couple of minor changes we want to make. Then it’s time to get ready and get on.
It goes brilliantly. It’s an emotional piece so I don’t need to go far to find my character. Eric is as ever a brilliant partner. Working with him I’m really surprised he didn’t get better offers for summer stock. I’m sure he’ll enjoy his councillor summer.
Most of the guys are here to watch including Peter. As we get changed after I realize they’re probably all going off for brunch or something to celebrate. That means the house will be empty and I can pack up all my things.
“Eric I do need to talk to you later. Before the awards will you be free for a quick coffee or tomorrow?” I ask.
“Okay, I’ll meet you at 6.” Eric says.
“Just you, no Harry or anyone.” I say.
“Of course. Thanks again for the part. I really enjoyed the whole experience.” Eric says.
I nod and walk to my car. I go and buy some boxes and head to the house. I quickly pack up the rest of the stuff from my room and carry it all up to the apartment. I put some laundry on then I go down to the basement and carefully pack up my teapots and take them over too. I won’t unpack them but pack them up properly and put into storage once I decide what I’m doing.
I put my clothes in the drier and grab a few things from the kitchen as I could do with a couple more cups and plates. Not that I’ve cooked much.
Once everything is done and put away I shower and head back to school. I watch the plays and get lost in the stories. Once they are done I head out to meet Eric during the break.
“Hey, thanks for coming. What do you want?” I ask.
“Skinny latte please. I’ll grab a table.” Eric says.
It’s pretty quiet so I get served quickly and Eric has no trouble getting us somewhere to sit.
“Okay I know we’re not friends any more but I do still trust you, kind of.” I begin.
“Alexander we will always be friends.” Eric says quietly.
“I am not coming back to school next semester. I need a break. Working the summers and studying so hard and the relationship dramas have just burnt me out. I don’t want to sell the house yet, in case I come back in a year or two. Will you take care of it for me? Manage the revolving door of guys and pay the cleaner and make sure no psychos burn it down?” I ask.
“Um of course. I guess. Are you sure about this?” Eric asks.
“No. I don’t know what I’m doing. I have to do these publicity tours and then I think I’ll take off for a while.” I say.
“I’ll miss you.” Eric says.
“No need to fake anything now. The festival is all but over.” I say. Mean and cold.
“Come on man, you can’t blame us for taking Peter’s side. When Barley told us what had happened. You having a fling with Patrick when Peter was just picking himself up from Aaron. When you and Barley were friends. It was just so unlike you. So so fucked up.” Eric says.
“So unlike me, as in it is something I would never, ever do. But none of you cared enough to even ask me if it was true. Not even Peter.” I say and walk out of the coffee shop.
I sit in the theater and watch the audience filling it back up. Prof comes in and sits next to me.
“Congrats on the rookie prize. Think you could get actor too, you and Eric were a long way ahead of the rest.” Prof says.
“I made sure I wasn’t in contention this time, feels unfair as I’m a pro. So is Eric I suppose but at least he’s still training.” I say.
“Well I loved your piece. We need to talk about next year, we’re having a reshuffle of classes. I think you’d like one of mine. Like I said come and see me next week.” Prof says.
“I’m uh thinking of taking some time off. Maybe dropping out altogether.” I say.
“I don’t like the sound of that. We’ll talk next week.” Prof says as the awards begin.
The newcomer award is up first and Eric does win the acting award again and I’m pleased. I guess this will make it worse with his classmates but it is a good boost for him. I head outside and try and feel some happiness for our achievements. I’m still pretty numb.
I see Eric laughing with Harry and I feel a huge wave of jealousy. It seemed like their relationship was faltering a week ago and now they’re as happy as ever. The rest of the guys including Barley join Eric and I lose it.
I walk over and grab Barley by the arm.
“Why are you spreading lies about me? Your relationship failed so you had to ruin mine?” I scream at him.
“If you wanted to keep your relationship you shouldn’t have fucked my boyfriend.” Barley snarls back.
“One time, one time and I was single and you were fucking my ex at the time.” I shout.
All the guys have stopped and are listening.
“That was enough. That was enough to turn his head away from me. To think he could do better. We’d been together three years! You killed my relationship.” Barley screams at me.
“He was already planning on leaving you, he applied for schools behind your back long before I fucked him. It wasn’t my fault.” I say coldly so mad at what he has done to me and Peter.
Peter lunges at Barley and I quickly step between them and drag Peter away. Once we’re out of earshot I look at Peter who is at least looking embarrassed.
“Why did you believe him?” I ask quietly.
“I already thought you’d cheated. I thought you walking out was admitting it.” Peter says.
“I walked out because I was so upset you didn’t trust me.” I say and start walking to my car.
Jay runs to catch up with me.
“You can’t be mad at him. Barley convinced a all of us. You can’t leave him, he loves you. Don’t ruin your chance at happiness.” Jay blurts out, totally out of breath.
I keep walking as if I hadn’t heard. Peter catches up and gets in the car with me. I don’t stop him.
“I’m sorry I blamed you for my friends dumping me. I can see it was Barley who poisoned them.” I say quietly.
“I continued it. I asked them to take my side. I needed their support. It was only meant to be temporary.” Peter says.
“I just don’t understand. You don’t know Barley that well, why did you let him break us up?” I ask.
We arrive home before he can answer. He follows me up into the apartment.
“I wasn’t going to end it. Fuck no, as long as it was over. You forgave me often enough. You might not say it anymore but I know you love me. I know you are the only man for me. I’d forgive almost anything. But you were gone. I thought you’d moved into his until I realised your car was still here. Then I just couldn’t catch you, you were a ghost. I was tidying my drawers and found the handcuffs and I don’t know I imagined some scene from a romcom. But you were so angry it didn’t work.” Peter says.
“I get that your self esteem is low enough that you think I’d cheat but did you think I would steal a friends boyfriend? Get in the way of a long term relationship? I know I’m no saint but it hurts that you thought so little of me and not just you, Jay and Eric and Jamie too.” I say quietly.
“Please baby I am so sorry. I need you. We barely got started again this cannot be over. It was just a misunderstanding. You have to understand.” Peter says.
I hug him. My anger is gone, I’m just sad that this happened.
“It’s better this way. I’m leaving school at the end of the semester and I don’t want to do long distance not when we can fuck us up like this when we’re close. I’d love to be with you, I would, I want you in my bed every night, I want to wake up to you, hold your hand every day. Of course I still want all that but it’ll just hurt more when we part and I don’t want that.” I say.
“You’re leaving? Because of this? I will kill Barley.” Peter shouts.
“I’m tired. I need a break, I’ve barely stopped since Dad got sick. I need time out.” I say. My stomach decides to make its presence known growling loudly.
“Did you eat today?” Peter asks sternly.
“I had coffee with Eric earlier.” I say vaguely.
“Did you eat this week?” Peter asks.
“Of course I did.” I say though I know I haven’t often.
“Are you still taking your meds? Last night you were a mess, I was frightened to leave you, I’ve not seen you that way in over a year. Alexander how badly are you doing?” Peter asks softly.
“Baby you can’t make big decisions right now. Not about me or school or anything.” Peter holds me and I let him.
“Go take a shower and I’ll make dinner.” Peter says.
I nod, all might fight has gone.
There is nothing like looking after Alexander to make me forget my own issues. I was worried about him last night. I still thought he was crying over messing up not because he was in pain. I should have known. I should have known he would have apologized. I’m so readily expecting the worst that I forgot he isn’t the worst and he never has been to me.
I put some soup on the stove to heat up and find some bread. Alexander won’t eat much but he might drink some calories so I heat some milk for cocoa too.
I call Eric.
“Hey, did he tell you he’s dropping out?” I ask Eric.
“Yeah he asked me to look after the house this afternoon. He seemed a bit out of it. Is he okay?” Eric asks.
“No, not really. He’s so mad at all of us for dropping him. We should have known that sneaking around has never been his style.” I say.
“I know. I feel so stupid. I suck as a friend. Can I come over?” Eric asks.
“Not tonight. He needs a quiet night. Can you set up a brunch tomorrow at the house, I’ll bring him by. We should be celebrating your awards anyway.” I say.
“I’ll try. I’ll get everyone over, about 11?” Eric suggests.
“Sure, there’s cash in my desk, I best go, cooking.” I say.
“See you tomorrow. Please tell him I’m sorry.” Eric says.
I finish making the cocoa and pour out the soup and set it on the table. I’m really worried about Alexander. I knew he was off last week when we were at the arboretum, he was down then and afterwards he wasn’t really himself. I’ve been pretty wrapped up in myself and he was doing what he could to help. I always forget how fragile he is.
He comes out the bathroom looking a bit better.
“Come and eat baby.” I say softly.
Alexander comes and sits next to me. I notice how grey his skin looks despite being flushed from the shower. He takes a few mouthfuls of soup and sips the cocoa.
“Want some cookies with that?” I ask.
“No, it’s good. Thanks for making it.” Alexander says quietly.
“Can you forgive me?” I ask.
“Already done. I was so mad at you for telling everyone but you didn’t it was Barley I should have been mad at.” Alexander says.
“Have you spoken to my mom this week?” I ask.
“No, I uh broke my phone.” Alexander says.
“Well she is caught up in a new case and it’s going to be a long one and she is so territorial that she doesn’t want to take her leave of absence until later. So our summer trip is off. I’m too late to get my job back here. I thought maybe I could travel with you. I can sightsee when you’re working and spend time with you when you’re not.” I say.
“I wouldn’t want you to waste your summer on me.” Alexander says.
“How would it be a waste? London, Paris, Sydney, LA, New York. I’ll have a blast and you’ll have someone to make sure you have soup.” I say brightly.
“Peter I really appreciate the thought. I really do. I would love to see the world with you. I would love it. You know I’ve been to Australia twice and the only things I’ve seen are tv studios and zoos. Both times I had to have photo ops with Koalas and that was it. I didn’t even get a day at the beach or get to climb the bridge. Working the publicity trail sucks.” Alexander says.
“All the more reason to have me in your room every night. At least I can take pictures and show you.” I tease.
“Can I think about it?” Alexander asks.
“Yeah. Been one hell of a day. I really am sorry for not trusting you. I guess you were right that we needed to be cautious starting this. I knew I was in a bad place I didn’t realize that you were too. I leant on you too much. I expected too much. I’m sorry.” I say.
“I should have been more firm. But when you asked me on the plane I said what I meant. I would do anything to get you away from Aaron but I got scared as soon as the reality set in. I didn’t want to upset you when you were down but I did anyway. I was out of control on spring break, I was a total dick to you. I’m really sorry. I just couldn’t handle getting back with you.” Alexander explains.
“I know. I was just so excited. I should have given you proper space and time. I’m sorry.” I say.
“While we’re apologizing I’m sorry for running out last weekend. If I’d stayed none of this would have happened. I’m sorry I blew this up so big. I’m supposed to be supporting you and I’m just adding to your problems.” Alexander says.
“Baby I love looking after you. You know that. I don’t like you being a mess. I don’t like being a mess. We can clean up together. I’m not letting you go baby. You can bellyache about not doing long distance but we’ll work something out. Getting back together was the best thing we have ever done. This week was hell for us both, we totally suck apart.” I say hoping it’s enough.
“It really sucked. I’m so scared Peter. I can’t go through this shit all the time. I know it’s my fault, I just don’t know how to deal with issues and I run away. I run away and you don’t listen. I guess we know what we need to work on. I’m in.” Alexander says.
“Good. Now eat that soup and give me your phone.” I say.
“Why?” Alexander asks.
“Because you haven’t been eating.” I say grinning.
“It was a big week, I was just busy. I’m not sick. I promise. I’m looking after you after tonight.” Alexander says.
“I should think so. I need major pampering and ultimate affection. Now give me your phone, I need to put reminders in it so you eat and take your pills even when I’m not around.” I say.
“Always Mr practical. Affection sounds good. I’m too tired to do more than cuddle.” Alexander says.
“You still my baby?” I ask, feeling good knowing the answer.
“I love you Peter.”