After a few more minutes of silence, she drops her book on the floor and gets up, walking across the room to the bowl of fruit. She sits down in the chair the strawberries were occupying and stares at each one intently before eating it.
“Why are you pissed?” I ask her, setting my book aside.
“It’s a thing, Nate. It’s a guitar.”
“I know exactly what it is. It’s a 1961 Martin. A special edition. There were fifty of these made. This is the first of the series,” I tell her.
“I’m the only one in the series of me,” she says. I have to bite my lip to keep from laughing. “Are you really that materialistic, that things are more important than people in your life?”
This rubs me the wrong way. “What do you want from me, Emi?”
“I want to be important to you.”
“You are,” I tell her. Frustrated, I grasp at my hair, pulling it hard. I want to tell her how important she is, but I can’t. I won’t scare her away, and I know that one improper advance could do just that. I decide not to delve into my feelings, and stick with the object – the thing – at the center of our current fight. “You can play the god damned guitar, I don’t care.”
“I don’t even want to play it,” she says. “I just want you to trust me.”
I turn to her slowly. “You want me to trust you?”
“You think I don’t trust you?”
“It doesn’t seem like you do.”
“How many days have I known you, Emi?”
I watch her swallow hard before she answers me. “Five days.”
“Five days,” I repeat. “Less than a week!”
“Who cares how long, Nate? I knew I could trust you after five minutes.” I can’t hold her gaze, feeling suddenly overcome with guilt.
I think back to Monday night, to Lauren. I remember with perfect clarity the lie I told Emi last night. “Maybe you can’t.”
“Why do you say that?” she asks. “Why can’t I trust you?” Her voice is shaking when she speaks.
“I think you need someone so badly right now, Em, that you’re overlooking a lot of things.”
“Like?” she asks, clearly offended. When I don’t look back at her, she comes and sits on the stage in front of me, facing me. “Why can’t I trust you?” she repeats.
“I lied to you,” I tell her.
I stare hard at my shoes, willing my feet to take me out of this room and far away from this conversation. I walked into it, though. I walked right into it, and I have a feeling my subconscious mind knew exactly what it was doing. I can’t lie to her. Not to her. Not if I want her in my life in any capacity. She won’t tolerate it. I shouldn’t either.
“About what, Nate?” I see her feet hit the floor about eighteen inches in front of me. Her fingers touch my chin, tilting my head to see her face. Already she looks hurt, and I haven’t even confessed anything yet. Looking up at her, I feel I’m already in a position to beg for her forgiveness. I will.
“I slept with Lauren.” I catch her hand when it falls from my face, closing my fingers around hers.
“When?” she asks softly.
I shake my head, not wanting to answer. I look away to murmur my response. “Monday night.” When I look up, she’s crinkling her nose and squinting her eyes at me.
“Two days ago, Monday night?”
“Yeah,” I sigh.
“It’s none of my business,” she says, shrugging. I stand up with her hand still in mine. “Why did you lie?”
“I don’t know,” I tell her honestly. “I didn’t… I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
“Well, you did.”
“I know, Emi. I shouldn’t have done it. I got nothin–”
“I’m talking about the lie, Nate,” she says flatly. “I don’t want to hear about what happened between you two. Like I said, that’s none of my business. But it’s not okay for you to lie to me.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I’ve regretted it since I said it.”
“Don’t do it again,” she says. “If we’re going to be friends, I expect you to be honest with me.”
“I will be,” I vow to her.
“Would I prefer that you’re not a man-whore?” she asks. “Probably, but that part of you has nothing to do with me.”
“Oh, good God, you idiot,” she says, finally pulling her hand away. She’s smiling at me. “You know what I mean.”
(C) 2012 Lori L. Otto