Her Dad's Friend(2)

By: Penny Wylder


Or at least I was until she reaches over and hits the send button on my phone.

“Emily!” I yell, jabbing at the screen, trying to get the words back somehow. “What the fuck?” I can be heard over the music and everyone turns to gawk in the hopes of a cat fight.

I stare at my phone, mouth breathing, hoping she hit the wrong button, but no. The text is there, right under his last text to me several months ago, congratulating me on getting my own apartment.

Emily rolls her eyes and tosses her blond ponytail over her shoulder. “You’ve been talking about hooking up with Paul for years now. I just did you a favor. You’re welcome.”

Turning away, she goes back to her game like it was nothing. Like she hadn’t just ruined my life with a touch of a finger.

My buzz is DOA. Instant sobriety. I want to go home, but I came with Emily and don’t have enough cash on me to call a cab. Right now, I just need a place to disappear. I stumble to the closest closet, kicking at beer cans and stubbing my toe on a keg. Where the hell are my shoes?

In the closet, I sit among the coats and sports equipment, wondering how the hell I can undo this. For an hour I literally do just that: Google ‘how to un-send a text’. Apparently, that’s not a thing. I guess us fucking idiots are on our own.

When I finally make it back to my apartment at three in the morning, I stay up as long as I can, trying to finish reading the paperback I started three months ago while I wait for him to text back. I think about sending another, saying, “just kidding!” or telling him I’d sent that to the wrong person, but part of me is glad it’s out there. I want him to know. My eyelids grow heavy and before I know it, I’m drooling on my pillow and dreaming I’m being chased by fried eggs with a spatula—I have weird-ass dreams after I’ve been drinking.

When I wake up in the morning, I no longer want Paul to know how I feel about him. I regret everything.

It’s early. I always wake up early when I’d rather sleep in. My phone vibrates, rattling from one end of my bedside table to the other.

Shit. I can’t look.

Instead of dealing with it, I roll over and try to go back to sleep. Fat chance with the groundkeepers mowing the lawn outside my bedroom window and the neighbor’s parrot on its perch outside, singing it’s unholy morning song like some goddamned city rooster. It doesn’t help either that the sun shining through my window feels like a Death Star laser beam searing into my face.

I’m in a bad fucking mood. I also have a Godfather of a hangover and my stomach is in knots.

Closing my eyes, my mind goes straight to the ominous “what if” pile and jumps in it like a Labrador in a heap of autumn leaves. What if the text blinking on my bedside table is from Paul, telling me he doesn’t want anything to do with me? What if he told my dad? I would die. If the embarrassment didn’t kill me, my dad definitely would. The good thing is Paul doesn’t live in town. He moved away to the other side of the state two years ago and I haven’t seen him since, so avoiding him is easy.

I slam my arm down on the bed, mad at myself for being so stupid. Next time I get drunk my phone is going in a lockbox with a key, retina scanner, and most importantly, a breathalyzer. I won’t have access to it until I blow under the legal driving limit.

Unfortunately, I can’t lay in bed and avoid my phone forever, so I say a hail Mary and pick it up.

My entire body sighs when I see it’s from Emily. The text says, ‘Get up, bitch, time for some birthday pampering.’

Still no text back from Paul.

After dragging my body into the shower and brushing the dead animal off my teeth, Emily takes me out for a manicure. I try to stay mad at her for hitting send on that text in the first place, but it’s impossible while having my hands massaged. Sitting in the chair, getting my nails painted a bright shade of teal, I ask her, “Do you think it’s strange my parents haven’t called to wish me happy birthday yet?”

They always call first thing in the morning to wake me up on my birthday, Mom singing terribly out of key while my dad mumbles his happy birthday in the background. I was going to mention Paul not sending a birthday text either, but was afraid it sounded too pathetic.

“Em?” I say when she doesn’t respond. The entire time I’ve been with her this morning, she’s been on her phone. She has makeup on and her hair curled. I don’t know how she manages to pull her shit together after a night of drinking when I feel like a child’s beaten doll dragged through the mud.

“Oh, sorry.” She takes one last look at the screen before she puts the phone in her pocket. “It’s not even noon yet. I’m sure they’re still in bed … Maybe your dad took your mom over to pound town, if you know what I mean,” she says, thrusting her hips while sitting in the chair. Our manicurists look at her, then at each other and say something in a language I’m not familiar with.

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