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Eric sat on his couch, chin rested in his hands, staring at his phone that lay face up on his coffee table while College Gameday played on mute in the background. Despite his sullen expression, the text was one he normally would have appreciated.
Alyssa [8:18am]: Hey babe. I’m sorry about last night. I was drunk and overreacted instead of trying to talk to you and understand where you’re coming from. To be honest, I forgot that Bryce and I had even gone to formal together. I went with him because him and his girlfriend had just broken up and he asked me as a friend, and that’s all we are. Still, I can understand why you felt lied to, and I’m sorry I reacted the way I did. I’ve had trouble with controlling guys in the past, but I know that’s not you. Let me know when you’re up and I can come over and we can talk. I love you.
The text should have made him feel relieved; happy that his relationship had bounced back from their first real fight in a mature fashion. But it didn’t. Because he hadn’t. He had met Andrew and Jack at the bar last night and immediately made the decision to get as drunk as humanly possible. He remembered buying rounds, taking shots, and being the life of the party. And that’s when he fucked up. He had been talking to one of the girls that Kyle had been attempting to flirt with when he realized through his alcoholic haze that she was more interested in him. She had rested a hand on his arm, and as he looked down at her, tequila coursing through his veins, he had listened to the devil on his shoulder and leaned in.
Cut to this morning. He had awoken in a panic in a strange room, staring at a giant tapestry that every 20-something girl had on their wall, and knew instantly he had fucked up. He stammered and stumbled his way through a goodbye with the half-asleep girl whose name he couldn’t remember, pulled his clothes on, and caught an Uber home.
Then he had received the text from his girlfriend and had been spending the last ninety minutes wondering how to respond. He fucked up. He knew he fucked up. But did she need to know he fucked up? He groaned, his hungover brain not prepared for such a moral quandary. Luckily, his phone vibrated on the table, distracting him.
Jack [9:41am]: How you feeling cowboy? You didn’t go home with that chick last night, did you?
Eric [9:42am]: Not feeling great dude. And yeah unfortunately I did. I feel like shit. I think I have to tell Alyssa.
Jack [9:44am]: Shiiit. That’s not going to end well. Did you guys like full on hook up or just make out and stuff?
Eric [9:45am]: I’m not sure. I woke up in my boxers though, so it can’t have been good.
Jack [9:46am]: Well fuck. I mean, I’ll be honest with you, if you tell Alyssa that relationship is probably over.
Eric [9:46am]: Fuck man, it was just a stupid drunk fuckup. But what else am I supposed to do? I owe her the truth, right?
Jack [9:51am]: Idk dude. Obviously, I’m not the best source for relationship advice but as I see it you have two options. You can tell her the truth, which would I guess alleviate your guilt and hurt her and end the relationship. Or you can admit to yourself that it was a one-time fuckup, not tell her, and continue your relationship.
Jack [9:52am]: Basically if you want to stay with her, telling her is only going to hurt her and your relationship. That’s just my take.
Eric pinched the bridge of his nose as he lay back on his couch. He felt nauseous, anxious, and feverish all at once. His stomach was in knots and he had broken a sweat during that text exchange. He didn’t know what to do. He had always believed he was a standup guy, and someone that would tell the truth in a relationship, even if it was hard, but now he wasn’t so sure.
“Shit, it’s not like I told Rachel what happened right before we broke up,” he said to himself. “But that made more sense. There was no reason to hurt her if we were going to break up anyway. But is this any different? Telling Alyssa would just hurt her. I care about this girl. I can see myself having a future with her. I can’t ruin that just because of a stupid drunken mistake.”
He ran his hands through his hair, already knowing the choice he was going to make. He picked up his phone and slowly typed out a response.
Eric [10:02am]: Morning babe. I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to act controlling at all. I just felt disrespected by how that guy interacted with you. I believe that you’ve only ever been friends with him, but I’m not sure if his feelings are as innocent. But it doesn’t matter. I want to see you. Want to meet at come over? I can make us breakfast and we can talk.
He breathed a deep sigh, knowing that this talk would be uncomfortable. He would need to be on his A-game to not seem guilty. “I mean, there’s not even any memory to feel guilty about,” he thought. “For all I know I just passed out right as I got to her place. I don’t know her name, and I barely even remember what she looked like. It’s almost like it never happened at all.”
He repeated that phrase to himself several times as he paced around the apartment before stopping outside the bathroom.
“Shit, I gotta take a shower before she gets here.” .