Once bitten by that close encounter or should I call it the virtual fatal collision with Adam the other day, I thought it best to shy away from any public appearances with Fitz at the ‘harmless’ spots in town. And finding myself away from the hawked-eyed spy of my dear friend, I found it more convenient to resume my little chats with Adam. Once in a while, he’d send me a brief video of himself on Snapchat and I’d find myself giggling like a toddler being tickled by anyone with big hands.
Falling back into this temptation wasn’t entirely my fault though. Anytime I wanted to spend some quality time with my husband, he’d politely tell me he had some few things to wrap up and that he’d join me soon. And the ‘soon’ could wound up into two or three hours and since I’ve always been a functional nocturnal being, I’d have to do something to keep me busy. What could keep me up if not the amusing chats and videos from my very own number two?
I did well to limit my technological affair to chats and voice messages. I didn’t want Fitz questioning me on the grounds of suspicious late night calls. I knew how loud I could be when I laughed sometimes so I advised myself against it. And luckily for me, Adam understood when I used the ‘meddlesome roommate’ line which he bought without hesitation.
But for a week after the supermarket incident, I realized that his responses to my texts were not as forthcoming as they used to be. It would show that he was online all right but it would take long minutes before he’d reply. This attitude made me feel uneasy at first and then began to irritate me. Then I knew it was really getting to me when I realized I was beginning to entertain jealous thoughts that maybe he had found someone else. I knew it was silly and selfish considering I legally belonged to someone else. But it hurt that I felt someone else might be taking my place. Maybe it was just my idle mind playing games on me.
So here I was, lying on the bed waiting for Karen to finish her shower so we could go to class together and I felt myself drifting away in sleep (those moments you can’t tell whether you’re conscious or dreaming). Karen’s phone rang and I ignored it for a while but it kept ringing.
“Karen, your phone is ringing!” I called out.
“Pick it up then!” I sat up grumbling about the disturbance and reached out for the phone. A message alert rang out and I blinked hard at the phone wishing I just didn’t read that. It was a message from Adam!
Throwing all caution to the wind, I opened the message and realized it was a whole conversation dating back to a week ago. I shook my head in disbelief as I scanned through the chat. My other hand fisted in rage. I knew someone else had joined the game, I knew it! I can’t believe my very own best friend would betray me like this. Didn’t she have a steady boyfriend, I fumed inwardly.
The bathroom door opened and Karen stepped out, wrapped in a towel.
“I know we are behind time and I took my sweet time in the bathroom today but the water felt so good on my skin today. You would have loved it,” Karen said as she began dressing up.
“Uh huh.” A few seconds later, she turned to look at me when she realized I was quiet. She saw her phone in my hand.
“What is it, Em? And why are you squeezing the life out of my poor phone? Who was it earlier?”
I didn’t reply. My mind was busily figuring out how to confront her without blowing it out of proportion.
“Em? Who was it?” She walked to me and tried taking the phone out of my grasp. I refused to surrender it and showed her the screen.
“What?” She asked innocently.
“I just found out you’ve been entertaining Adam online. Care to explain that to me?”
Karen chuckled with a dismissive wave of the hand.
“It’s nothing. We exchanged numbers back at the supermarket and we’ve been chatting from time to time. No big deal.”
“No big deal? Don’t you have a boyfriend?” I asked in an accusatory tone.
She gave me a stunned look. “Listen to who is throwing the first stone here. Aren’t you a married woman?”
The words stung so much that I winced.
“I just asked you to distract him so we wouldn’t collide. I’m sure I didn’t say you should fraternize enough to exchange contact numbers.”
“Well, he asked for it and knowing me to be the generous friend that I am, didn’t see why I shouldn’t. He’s really funny. I now see why you’re so hooked up on him.”
“Stay away from him, Karen!”
She put on her dress and turned to give me a wry look.
“Is that a warning?”
“You know me not to mince words,” I said in a serious tone.
“And if I don’t?” She asked tauntingly.
“Don’t push me, Karen. You wouldn’t like it.”
“You’re married, Emily. In case you don’t know what it means, let me break it down for you. It means you’re off the market. You belong to Fitz now. I on the other hand, I’m still in the game. Dating is just trying out the goods. So you can’t hold it against me. Besides, I don’t understand why you’re upset. I don’t even like him like that. We’re just online buddies. I have a boyfriend, remember.”
“He’s my number two and I’m not sharing.”
“Sorry honey; this is the new world. Deal with it.” She turned to look at herself in the mirror. Without thinking, I took hold of an empty Alvaro bottle on the table and hit her on the head with it. She fell down and passed out instantly. For a good minute, my mind went blank with the fatal weapon shaking in my hand. I dropped it and went on my knees beside my friend. I shook her and began crying.
“Karen please wake up. I didn’t mean it. Please…Karen.” I touched her head and I felt something moist on my fingers. I screamed when I saw blood. Karen always told me she had an incredibly soft scalp. I thought it was limited to hair relaxer creams but clearly, I was wrong. My mind was racing on who to call for help. I took my phone and dialed Tony’s number.
“Please come to my room right now. I need your help, please.” Thankfully, he could sense the desperation in my voice so he didn’t ask questions. He said okay and ended the call. He knocked on the door two long minutes later. I opened the door for him and he gasped when he saw an unconscious Karen on the floor.
“Please help me take her to the hospital. I’ll tell you on the way.” He carried her to my car and he took the keys seeing that I was in no condition to be behind the wheel. I put my friend’s head on my lap, crying silently.
“Now would you tell me what happened?”
“We were having an argument and things heated up and…” The tires screeched to a halt. The next minute was filled with Tony shouting at the offending driver. I said a silent prayer of thanks for the timely interruption since he didn’t pursue the matter anymore.
After she was admitted and stabilized, Tony excused himself to leave after a seemingly urgent phone call. I thanked him profusely for his help. He gave me a hug and it was just what I needed at that point in time. I called Karen’s boyfriend to come over. As I sat waiting for him to arrive, Karen woke up. When our eyes met, she withdrew her hand in my grip.
“I am so sorry, Karen. I wasn’t thinking. Please forgive me,” I pleaded earnestly.
Karen’s boyfriend James entered. I stood. He rushed to her side and held her hand.
“What happened?” He asked in an alarmed tone, looking at me.
All I could do was cry. Karen weakly lifted her hand to point at me but James held it and brought it down beside her body. I knew my end had come.
As she opened her mouth to speak, I woke up with a start.
“Whoa, must have been a heck of a nightmare. You look like you’ve seen your grandmother’s ghost,” Karen said. I looked at her. She was wrapped in a towel. I blinked hard, trying to clear my head. The phone rang and my heart started pounding. Karen picked up the call.
“Hello honey. Yeah, I have a class in twenty minutes. Yeah, she’s here. I’ll tell her. Talk to you later.” She hung up.
“That was James. He said hi.”
“Uh huh.” I was panting. Karen began dressing up. I got up from bed and went to hug Karen. That unexpected gesture caught her off guard.
“Okay…what did you dream about?”
I shook my head. “I love you, Karen.”
“I love you too, Em.”
“You’ll always come first,” I said.
“Hmm…are you sure?”
“You know what I mean.” She chuckled and hugged me back.
“Thank God it was just a bad dream,” I said to myself.