He knew better than this.

He was happy, after all. Wasn’t he? Yes, there were challenges – the distance, the way she wanted marriage but he wasn’t 100% sure, the times he found her self-centered and wondered just what the hell he was doing with her. That nagging feeling of doubt was something he tried to write off as a normal feeling in your mid-twenties, but it still plagued him on occasion, at times. At times like this.

He had been taken aback by the comfortability of it all. It had been over two years, and they had easily fallen back into old routines. Had she always been this funny? Had she always looked that good? Had they always had that spark, yet never acted upon it?

Perhaps. But it should be inconsequential – he was with someone else. And yet the evening carried on.

They rehashed old stories, caught up on each other’s lives since they had last parted on a cold, blustery evening that is expected in Chicago in January, the wind whipping through to your soul. With his scathing wit and sometimes overly obnoxious sarcasm, he knew he was oft to offend her, a tactic he wondered if he had been using to keep her at arm’s length. And the evening carried on.

The light from the rundown bar shone upon her as she unconsciously twisted her hair into a ponytail, a move so comfortable that he inherently knew she had done it a thousand times without ever giving it a second thought. She didn’t realize that something about that small move endeared him to her even more, a feeling both foreign and yet somehow second-nature. What was he getting himself into? And the evening carried on.

The night was late, and a few snowflakes had started to fall. He knew she was supposed to be going home, yet neither of them should be driving in their state, what with the Caffrey’s and Vodka gimlets they had been drinking all evening. Hailing a cab, he heard himself inviting her to stay at his place – on his couch, of course – and wondered how much control he had in this situation after all. She accepted. What had he gotten himself into?

All of that led to this moment, with her in his sweatpants and t-shirt, both watching some show on late-night television. She looked like she was paying attention to it, yet he hadn’t caught a word. The inexplicable dilemma he had gotten himself into was his own personal drama, better than any drabble shown on cable at this hour. Her legs were loosely curled around her, and when she would move her feet would graze his thigh.

This was the moment of truth. Sink or swim. He knew what he wanted – well, he thought he knew what he wanted. He knew that the liklihood of his girlfriend finding out was slim, yet HE would know, and that would change everything. And as his old friend sat on the couch, laughing at some corny joke on the television, tucking her hair behind her ear, he knew what he had to do.

10 thoughts on “4am

  1. Ah, the age old dilemma. How far can you take innocence before it’s no longer innocence anymore? When you start off, it’s just a little thought in the back of your head, but every step closer to it that you get, the stronger the thought grows, until rationality no longer has its place. We’re hunters/gatherers at the core, after all. No matter what anyone tells you, this was the intent all along, if only on a subconcious level, and the only way to prevent making this all-to-common mistake, is to never allow yourself to take that first step, to make that first friendly offer, to get in the car, ride home with the friends you came with, and do that which has become your job, whether you like it or not. In the long run, nothing good will come from this situation. Feelings get hurt, trust is broken, self-respect dissolves. That which starts off the most innocently, as you wrote it, normally leads to the most heartache for all those involved.

  2. “He” sounds like quite the dog to me, and I’m hoping it was well worth it for the hurt it will cause when his girlfriend who expects him to be faithful finds out what a dog he was.

  3. funny, i quickly overlooked the fact he had a girlfriend. i guess i figured if he allowed himself in the situation and “knew what he had to do” his girlfriend couldn’t have been too important.

  4. First, seems that you all thought he “went for it.” The entry was left open-ended, and I’m somewhat surprised that everyone (at least everyone who commented) assumed that he cheated.
    Secondly, you (again, commenters) all also assumed it was true.
    More thoughts, please…

  5. ‘Tis a very open ended story. One that everyone wants to have a ‘Must See TV’ ending. Quite possible that he made some excuse to leave the room and then conveniently pass out on the couch before he crossed the line.
    Good tale Aub. Lead us all right where you wanted our minds to go and then said, “Look again. Are you sure?”

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