When I was of sound mind and a clear head, I liked to pride myself as a rational person, someone who knew the best thing to do. I would have known what the best course of action would be. I would have known whether it was wiser to wake Molly up and explain everything to her immediately, or wait under the following night when the household was just getting settled for the night.
I couldn’t be labeled ‘of sound mind’ from the moment Chris caught me. Once he gave me the twenty-four hour warning, I became a zombie. Before I myself knew it, I was waiting until nearly twenty of my hours were up, electing to talk to Molly the following evening. Was it the best course of action? I didn’t know. I wanted what was best for Molly, but… fuck, I couldn’t start pretending I only had her best interests at heart now.
We saw each other during the day, just once or twice. Enough to make things awkward as hell for me. At one point, Chris was also in the room, and I didn’t even dare look at his face. I had to leave the room. Even if this was all a ruse and Molly knew, even if Sleeping Molly was actually just a devious Molly too afraid to tell me, I couldn’t face reality in front of Chris. It scared me too much.
It was just about midnight when I gathered strength I didn’t know I had, assertively knocking on the door and answering the open door with, “We need to talk.” Molly, of course, barely said a word, and worriedly invited me in. I took the invitation quickly, and sat down on her bed.
“…What’s going on?” Molly finally asked me. I was sitting on the edge of her bed, head buried in my hands, not knowing how to proceed.
“…How’re things with Carson?” I finally asked. “You still staying away from him?”
Molly broke into an annoyed smirk. “Aaron.” she chastised me. “I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. What Carson did was… uncool, but it’s in the past. He’s in the past. Don’t worry, I’m not going to… let him in or anything. What did you call them? ‘Fuckboys?’ I’m taking your advice well.”
She sat down beside me on the bed and smiled warmly. “I appreciate that you care so much. But really, you don’t have to get worked up over this.”
I sighed heavily. “That’s… not what I… came over to say.” I began, my nervousness impacting my speech more than I could ever remember in my life. I felt like a weak, scared kitten. I knew that what I was about to say could destroy everything, and yet I had to be the one to do it.
“Okay…” Molly slowly replied, looking at me, confused. “What did you come over to say?”
“Look, I…” I tried again exasperatedly. “You shouldn’t… you shouldn’t like me any better than Carson. I’m him. I’m worse than him. I’m a… you shouldn’t be okay with me. At all.”
Molly’s eyes never left my face. “I don’t understand.”
Now or never. “Molly, I’ve had a crush on you for as long as I can remember. That’s the truth. That’s the long and short of it. I had a crush on you. I knew that you don’t, didn’t… whatever, I knew the feelings weren’t exactly mutual. So I hid the feelings, but after that whole incident where we saw each other… y’know… naked… I just thought there was something. I hoped, I fantasized, I fucking obsessed…”
Molly’s face sported a completely serious look. “Aaron, that’s completely fine.” she replied coolly. “You’re allowed to have feelings. I can’t say…” She tore her gaze away from me for the first time. “I can’t say they’re mutual, if we’re just going to be fully honest here.” She returned her stare to mine. “But this doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t have to impact our friendship. Just because you have a crush on me doesn’t have to undo our years of friendship together. I’m not in high school. I told you, I’m a big girl. I can take it.”
She took my hand and placed it into hers, and smiled gently. Instinctively, I pulled my hand away, guilt setting in more and more with each passing second.
Molly nodded weakly. “Right.” she replied awkwardly. “I guess if I just admitted to you the feelings aren’t mutual, holding my hand is kind of a… consolation prize, huh?”
“No. No, it’s not that.” I felt the shakiness return to my voice. I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut, not daring to look at her any longer from here on out. “I was already in a haze from seeing each other naked, and then we slept in the same bed.”
“Oh no, was it too much? That must have drove you crazy. You should have said s-”
“Molly, shut up.” I said with more anger at myself than for her. She didn’t reply, so I opened my eyes, and saw an even more serious look on her face. I couldn’t tell if she was angry at me, but at this point, I knew I needed to clear everything up for her.
“When you were asleep, something happened. I’m not sure if it was conscious, but you… came on to me during your sleep.”
“Excuse me?” Molly asked, her serious face not waning.
“You started cuddling me and kissing my neck. I tried to wake you up, but you didn’t respond. I didn’t know if this was y-”
“Aaron, if this is a joke, it’s not funny.”
My heart sank. I had no clue why I held out any hope that she was intentionally doing this, but that hope was shrinking exponentially with each response Molly gave. “Molly, it’s no joke. You actually did this. You were cuddling me and kissing me. And I had years of pent-up romantic… romantic tension with you, and I thought maybe this was your way of coming onto me but being too anxious to say it-”
“No! No it wasn’t!” Molly exclaimed incredulously. “If I did have any kind of f- wait.” She paused her story, straightening her back nervously. “How were you going to end that sentence?”
My fear reached a crescendo. I closed my eyes again. “I thought maybe this was your way of coming onto me, so I… I k-kissed you back.”
Molly looked at me as if I just shot a family member. “You what?” she weakly asked me.
“I kissed you. On the collarbone. You… seemed to enjoy it. Sleeping Molly… seemed to enjoy it.”
“Sleeping Molly?! Aaron…” Molly tried to form words but none were coming. She looked mortified.
Fuck it. I was through the looking glass. It was time to push onward. “That night, I felt you up and f-fingered you to orgasm.” Molly said nothing, but sank her shoulders in and moved her arms in front of herself. She recoiled from my comment. “The next day, you looked so happy, and I wondered if I caused that. I thought I made you happy.”
I turned towards her for my last glimmer of hope. Maybe she’d realize I did make her happy. Maybe she’d shake it off, or see how I cared so much about her. Hell, maybe she’d spontaneously forget this whole thing happened and we could go back to being friends. All I needed to see was a smile on her cute, beautiful face.
Instead I saw a scowl, a horrified scowl, and a single tear dancing its way down her face. I had never seen Molly looking like this in my entire life. It didn’t even look like Molly. It just looked like some young woman, some poor young woman afraid for her life. My heart was on fire, every bit of breath getting caught in my throat.
“I wanted to know for sure, so the next day ,when you were at school, I…” I threw my arms up in resignation. Couldn’t get much lower than here. “I went through your stuff. Your computer, your internet history. I found a bunch of porn stories. It… they gave me hope. Like maybe you read a particularly crazy one and wanted to conduct your own scenarios or something.”
“Aaron, what the fuck…” Molly couldn’t muster the strength to do anything more than mutter those words, her hands now clutching at her chest and neck.
I couldn’t even look at her anymore. I couldn’t let her stop me. “So then there was this girl, this girl I was fucking, named Holly.” I paused. “Oh yeah, I have a lot of casual sex too. Yet another fucking thing I was hiding from you. Sue me.” At this point, using humor to detach myself from the situation was the only way I was getting through this. “Holly was, uh… she’s kinda fucked. She learned I had a crush on you, and she asked me if I wanted to try to get it to happen again, to convert you or something.”
I heard a noise. A soft yet piercing noise. It sounded like the worst thing on the planet. What I said broke the dam, and now Molly was crying uncontrollably into her hands. I gulped and had to steel my own nerves. I had to continue. “She set everything up, planned a lot of it. She got me to destabilize your bed, she got me to plant the dog hair…”
Molly’s crying was quiet but noticeable before, but now her sobs were like screams. “No!!” she practically screamed into her hands.
I was crying now too. I could feel it. I had to continue. “I’m sorry, Molly. I-”
“Shut up! Just stop!!” her muffled cries begged me.
I ignored her. “When we shared the bed again, the second night, it happened again. More. You blew me.” I was now fully ready to yell to the world how disgusting I was. I turned to Molly. “You blew me, Molly. In your sleep. You don’t remember it, and I was too weak and too much of a monster to stop you.” My voice found this weird power to it, the kind of power you get when you know your world is already burning around you. I felt like I was going to pass out.
“So I took it a step farther. I got in your bed, after you were asleep. You blew me again, and… I ate you out.”
“Please shut up!!” Molly’s voice was only getting more shrill as her crying never subsided.
My life was over. Any chance of me being with her was over. In a ‘fuck the world’ kind of way, it was almost freeing. Now at least she knew I was a sick fuck. “Then as I tried to sneak back out, Chris caught me, and forced me to tell you. And now, here we are.” I sighed deeply, the sounds of Molly’s inconsolable crying deafening to my ears. “I should have told you. I should have told you who I was before this sleeping shit even started happening.” I didn’t even know why I was still talking at this point, but I continued nonetheless. “This is me. This is who I am. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’m not even a fuckboy, I’m lower than anyone I’ve told you to stay away from.” I swallowed. “I’m a God damned monster.”
I was out of steam, and with another sigh, I collapsed down on the bed. A few seconds went by with nothing happening but Molly continuing to cry, before she eventually, slowly, lifted her head from her hands. Her eyes met with mine for maybe a second before she got up and bolted out of the room with lightning speed. I heard the front door slam and sighed again, raking my hands over my face.
It was over. I had told her. And the results were in – she had no idea what I was doing to her. She didn’t like it. I was indeed a fucking monster. With the last of my strength, I got up off the bed and calmly walked out of her room, shutting the door behind me.
As soon as I did, the bathroom light flicked on again and once again I saw Chris, leaning against the wall, this time nodding solemnly and approvingly.
“I shouldn’t even be fucking surprised at this point.” I muttered.
Chris ignored me. “You did the right thing by telling her.”
“You didn’t exactly give me much of a choice.”
“I gave you exactly that.” he replied calmly. “I gave you a choice, and you took it. But this in no way excuses your actions.”
“I fucking know.” I replied in disgust. “Go fuck yourself.”
Chris didn’t reply. I walked towards my door, then loudly sighed. I turned back to him and shrugged to the world. “I’m sorry.”
“Thank you.” Chris said in a voice just above a whisper.
“So what happens now?”
Chris looked towards the door where Molly left. “Molly left in a hurry but if I know her, she’ll be back again soon. We’ll talk. I heard your conversation but if I know anything she doesn’t, I’ll tell her. And I’ll be there to comfort her, if she thinks she can trust any male right now.” He paused for effect. “Molly really had a hard time trusting guys. You were basically one of two men she let into her life. You know what that makes you?”
“If you’d like. I was going to go with ‘sick.’” Chris replied, unfolding his arms and getting up from his leaning stance. “I think you’re sick, not evil. If you’re ever going to listen to one thing I tell you ever again, please make it this: get professional help.”
“I’m not sure I can talk about this now.” I turned back towards my room, then a thought struck me. “What’s going to happen with our living situation? Am I going to have to move?”
Chris sighed. “I know our contracts have twelve-month leases, so kicking you out is not fair to either you or the landlord. If it were only unfair to you, I’d do it.” he pointed out seriously. “But it’s not up to me. If Molly is okay enough to talk about it, she’ll get to decide. And if she decides to press legal charges on you, I’m going to help her in every way I can.”
Fuck. I didn’t even think of that. Chris knew a lot about many things, and legal matters were definitely one of them. If Molly wanted to destroy my life for this… for destroying hers… Chris would be the perfect person to make sure it got done.
Chris remained even-faced. “I can’t do anything but support my friend in this. You were in the wrong, and you hurt her. You hurt her deeply.”
I simply eyed the floor and shrugged meekly. “If you didn’t make me tell her, and just made me not do this ever again, she’d be fine right now.”
I felt the back of my head hit the wall, followed my a flood of pain coming from my nose. I felt either mucus or blood instantly coming from my nostrils. My eyes watered. Chris had full-on punched me in the face. Emotionally and physically weak, all I could do was fall to the floor, clutching my nose.
I blinked a few times to move the tears away to see Chris, still holding a fist up, breathing heavily but still looking at me calmly. “Become a better person, Aaron.” was all he said, still as calm as the ocean, before slowly ascending up the stairs, eventually leaving my sight.
I coughed annoyedly, slowly getting up. The world was very unfair, but I was a part of that world. If I were of sound mind, I’m sure I could have seen myself outside of my own perspective and had a better grasp on what I was doing and what was good and bad.
But of course I wasn’t.
When I first came over, Holly peppered me with questions. She wanted to know how things went with Molly. After all, the last text she got from me was confirmation that I was going to try seducing Molly, then radio silence. It was understandable that she got… curious.
In fact, if I didn’t know any better ,when I showed up unannounced, relief would have been the first thing I saw splashed across her face. Maybe she thought that I would have gotten caught raping a girl in her sleep. And maybe she was right.
Blame it on the haze I was still in, but none of that mattered to me. I could only catch a glimpse of the relief leaving her face as I grabbed her by the throat and shoved her against the wall. This sadistic bitch was responsible for me losing the one thing in life I wanted the most – not even Molly, but a happy ending for her. Hopefully one with me in it, romantic or otherwise. It was crystal clear I wasn’t going to get that now, and Holly was the one to blame for it. That and my haze.
I closed the door with a swift kick, barely breaking my stride as I shoved Holly face-first into the wall, grabbing the skirt she was wearing and yanking it down onto the floor, followed by her panties. It sickened me to see her arch her back and hear her giggle. This was her fault. I didn’t want her to enjoy this.
When I first thrust myself inside her, after her initial gasp, she started babbling almost uncharacteristically. Asking me questions still, then moving to the sex, asking me if I enjoyed her body, telling me to use her, never shutting up. Eventually, my hand moved back around her throat in a silent order – a silent plea – to remain quiet. Talking made me think. Thinking lessened my haze. And I may have been blaming it, but that didn’t mean I wanted it to go away. Without the haze, there was only me, looking at myself. I couldn’t have that.
My hips – no, my entire body – moved by itself. I felt only the satisfaction of knowing Holly was impaled on me. Secretly, I hoped she was scared. She deserved to know how it felt to be on the other side. Only small muffled moans escaped my hand as I made an effort to go deeper every time, go faster every thrust, to make it hurt. I knew I wasn’t exactly small down there, and knew that some girls couldn’t take a size like that, especially from behind. I hoped Holly was that type, and that I was giving her just what God would right now if she were being judged for her life’s sins.
I saw red. I saw nothing but red. Even as I got close to releasing myself inside her, I couldn’t help but think about how she didn’t deserve the pleasure. Molly did. I wanted what Molly wanted, whatever the fuck that would be. But now I couldn’t give it to her, thanks to this sadist, this devil. I mashed her against the wall, the “ow” she muttered giving me a worrying amount of glee as I doubled my efforts, hurting even myself to make sure she was being numbed as thoroughly as possible.
I couldn’t help but smile. Not in happiness, in… something else. Every inch of my lower body lit up like a Christmas Tree in delight and pleasure as I grabbed Holly’s hair with my other hand, yanking as hard as I could as I emitted a struggled grunt and emptied myself inside her, spurt after spurt. Many more than usual.
I collapsed against her, breathing a few more times then letting loose a controlled, quick exhale as I released my grip on Holly’s hair, bringing her head forward. It hit the wall with a soft thud as I pulled myself out of her, walking away so I could readjust my clothes without looking back at her.
But of course I did look back at her. After my dick was tucked away and my pants were done back up, I turned my head back around to see her rubbing her head with one hand and bringing up her skirt with the other. “Jeez.” she mumbled. “Must’ve felt really good, huh?” She grinned at me, but I didn’t grin back. I just stared a hole through her.
I couldn’t win with her. She got off to this shit. She enjoyed this. And the worse things got, the worse I got, the more she enjoyed it, the more she enabled it. The haze was leaving me, even if it was only perhaps one percent of the haze. But it was enough to make me see one thing: as long as I stuck around, even if I thought I was getting the upper hand, Holly was winning. Holly was making things worse for me. I was losing.
“We can’t do this anymore.” I calmly said, my throat dry from having not spoken in a long time.
Holly paused. “What?”
“We’re not doing this anymore. This. Us. Sex.”
“Um…” Holly looked at me weirdly. “…why?”
“Because I’m telling you. This is what I want. I don’t want to have sex with you anymore.”
Holly readjusted her composure, going from shocked to folding her arms, no doubt wanting to win her precious high ground back. “What, so after helping you win your stupid dream girl suddenly I’m worth nothing to you?”
“You’re worth nothing to me.” I robotically repeated, nodding.
Holly’s eyes narrowed, fire building. “You’re worth nothing to me too.”
“Then there shouldn’t be a problem in us not doing this anymore.” I replied, as calm as… well, as calm as Chris when he was talking to me.
“You think you can just come in, use me as your little sex toy, then tell me we’re not doing this anymore?”
“What if I didn’t want this anymore? What if you just fucking assaulted me?” she challenged me.
“I didn’t.” I simply replied. We paused before I added, “Besides, if I did, you would have just enjoyed that, sick fuck that you are.”
“I’m not the one that wanted to hold down and fuck their childhood friend, and was too much of a bitch to even do it myself.”
“I’m not the one that helped him.”
“So what does that make us, Aaron?!”
“I was going to go with ‘sick.’” I replied, calm as ever. “I can’t be around you anymore. You’re making me sicker, and it cost me.” Admitting that I was sick made tears come to my eyes. I blinked rapidly, wishing them away. “This is the last time we can do this.”
“You’re such a little bitch baby.” Holly replied in disbelief, shaking her head. “Why don’t you just grow up.” She walked over to her bed and sat down on it. “Get out of my room. Get out.” Each word that escaped her mouth was weaker than the last.
I don’t know why, but my anger at Holly just dissolved with that last statement. I didn’t feel anger towards her anymore. I felt tired. “Okay.” I replied simply as I stole one last look at her and walked out.
Once the door was shut behind me and I was in the dorm hallway, I just sighed. I stayed there for a few minutes, at least. Sighing. Sighing, keeping my face in my hands, staring out at nothing, feeling very little. Eventually, without really knowing why, I looked up at the ceiling. “I’m sorry, Molly.” I said out loud, barely loud enough for even me to hear it. With that, I just started walking.
I didn’t stop walking for a long while. Instead of bussing home, I decided to walk, which was about an hour-long walk. In the frigid cold, it wasn’t fun, but it gave me a lot of time to think. Time to think and be with myself. Was that healthy, now knowing who I was? I didn’t know, but it felt better than being around Holly.
Around halfway through the walk, I stumbled upon a park. I didn’t even know there were parks around this area, let alone one like this. It was one of those charming parks that clearly thrived around wintertime, complete with its own little makeshift skating rink and everything. Cute little lights, festive lights, adorned the trees and lampposts. It was just dark enough outside that their charm began to become apparent. Even feeling how I did, I couldn’t help smiling to myself as I realized I was going to be making a little detour.
When you feel low, lower than you ever did before, the smallest of things can make you smile, give you temporary happiness. I felt that temporary happiness as I began to trace my route along the trees and the lampposts and around the makeshift rink. I saw kids with their parents, I saw old people on benches smiling at the younger people having fun, and I saw… couples. Young couples. Around Molly’s age.
My smile faded. Couldn’t have lasted that long anyway. I thought to myself how lovely it would be to bring Molly here. If only I hadn’t listened to Holly… fuck it, if only I hadn’t done what I did, I could bring Molly here. We would be smiling like those young couples. Maybe we could even get some skates and skate together, falling over and laughing at ourselves like those couples were. I remembered Molly had an old pair of skates. It would be easy.
But right now it wasn’t easy. Right now it wasn’t even an option. I would have given anything for it to be an option at that moment. I would have done anything to turn back the clock and just… not have seen her naked, maybe? Not slept next to her? What was the one moment where all of this got locked into place? Where was the moment where all of this came crashing down? I didn’t exactly have the entire set of events written down for me, so it would have been impossible to know.
Out of nowhere, my phone buzzed in my pocket. Still feeling very little, I pulled it out to see a giant wall of text. Holly. There were those texts, those texts, were you just saw a giant wall of words and knew already what it was saying. You just knew. A month or so ago – fuck it, an hour ago, seeing that would have made me throw my phone in rage, but for some reason, I shrugged and put my phone back in my pocket. Maybe I was growing from this. Could I have already been growing? I didn’t know. It wasn’t my job to psychoanalyze myself after all this.
What was my job? What was my duty after all this happened? Did I even have a duty, or did I have to deal with… losing? Was it even losing? Yes, I definitely lost. Molly lost. The events made her feel terrible. Holly’s actions made her feel terrible. Poor Molly.
I glanced around the park again. It would have been nice to bring Molly here. Really nice. It was a shame it would never happen. Maybe if I told her about this place…
No. Fuck no. What the fuck was I saying? She literally just found out about all of this. I couldn’t just talk to her as if nothing happened. I’m not sure if I was her friend anymore, but I needed to… act like… one…
No. No I didn’t. I needed to accept I wasn’t her friend and stay away from her. Right? She just found out about all of this, and blamed me for it. Because I did it. Well, sort of. I guess I did it. Well, Holly did it. Well, she convinced me to do it. So my duty was to be there for her. But only if she wanted. Which she didn’t, because she saw me as a rapist. Which I was. Maybe.
I rubbed my eyes with my hands. I felt nothing. Well, I felt my phone buzzing in my pockets. More texts from Holly, I didn’t even have to check to know that. It seemed she was taking how things were going just about as well as I was, and needed to lash out. I definitely did, and I did with her. Was that fair? Was I toxic? Maybe we both were. Maybe one of us more than another. Whatever the case was, it was probably for the best we weren’t talking.
I teared up realizing that that very last sentence was probably going to apply to Molly and myself very soon.
It seems ridiculous in context to think certain things, but it felt very unnatural and unfair to have not spoken to Molly for so long. Molly and I never went without speaking for a full day before. After a certain point, I stopped tracking how many days had passed. It was obvious why she wasn’t talking to me, and it wasn’t unfair of her not to speak to me, but it just still felt… unfair. Unjust. The universe wasn’t right.
I don’t cry. I never cry. I cried a lot over the course of the unnumbered amount of days. When I thought it was over, I thought of her, of us, of our happy memories, and how they’ll never happen again, and cried anew. At some points I even got hardened, I fantasized scenarios where I was over her, maybe she even wanted to talk to me and I’d laugh and tell her I wasn’t interested. Of course, those were just that – fantasies. I like to fantasize about having the upper hand, of Molly wanting me more than I wanted her, caring about me more than I cared about her, or even just wanting to talk to me. They were only fantasies.
I stayed in my room most of the time over the unnumbered amount of days, still blaming everything on the haze, on Holly, and feeling like life as I knew it was over. Sure, I could start again, but it felt meaningless. The things that had meaning in my life felt gone. Molly was gone.
It was in late December, days after finals had finished, that I heard a knock on the door. The first contact I had with anyone aside from a store clerk in weeks. I could barely keep my voice even when I replied, “Come in.”
The door opened slowly. Agonizingly slowly. I already knew who it was – if it were Chris it wouldn’t have been that slow, and Jerome didn’t go into others’ rooms. There was only one more person it could have been.
She walked slowly, as if my room was a minefield. She seemed to look everywhere except in my eyes. She looked… scared. Sleepless. Damaged. It broke my heart to see her like that. I impulsively shivered and felt a strong lunge in my chest, like a cough but for crying.
She looked so… uncomfortable. She looked anxious. She stood there for way too long with the both of us waiting, daring the other to speak first before she quietly managed to say, “We should talk.”
“Yeah.” I replied as loudly as her, both of us unmoving.
“I’d like to sit down if I can.” she continued, every word clearly hard to get out of her mouth. “Would you mind moving… moving to one side of your bed? I don’t want to… sit too close to you.”
I sighed sadly, never taking my eyes off of Molly’s as I moved. She never once returned my gaze as she walked over and sat down, still sitting – wallowing – in the silence.
“I get it. I get it, okay?” I began, staying more calm than I would have thought. “I fucked up. I was awful. I was being a bad friend.”
Molly looked up at my eyes for the first time, no emotion on her face. “You weren’t being a friend.”
At first, hearing that was like a knife in my heart, but I composed myself well. “You’re right. I wasn’t being a friend. I was just usi-” The word caught in my throat. “…using you. I was an awful person, and we… we have no chance in hell of being friends now. I’m sorry. It was dumb and I… I don’t want to … have done it. I don’t want… I didn’t… I shouldn’t have done it.” Crying again. Jesus Christ.
Molly didn’t respond to what I said. With her poker face, it was hard to tell if she even listened. “Why did you do it?” she finally asked me, hurt showing on her face.
“Well…” I began uneasily. “Like I said, I saw you naked, you saw me naked, and something just clicked. Like, I honestly believed something was beginning there, like we were doing this invisible flirting game.” I saw Molly’s face change and waved my hands about. “I get it, I get it, I was wrong about that, but that’s honestly how I saw it. And it affected me too much. I told you how I was sleeping around, right?”
Molly slowly nodded.
“Yeah, it kept affecting me there. I kept… sorry, I get this is weird…”
“It’s fine. I asked you about it. You can say whatever you’re saying.” Molly told me, her eyes closed but not squeezed shut.
I exhaled. “So, I kept saying your name while having sex with other girls.” I heard Molly exhale calmly. “I think I confused my crush on you with a sexual attraction too. Like, I got confused. And the… sorry, the sleep thing… it didn’t help matters. I was in a… a…”
“A haze?” Molly offered.
“Yeah.” I nodded. “Yeah, exactly. And I keep blaming it on the haze. I kept blaming what happened with us on the haze too. You know, the whole sleep thing or whatever it is y-”
“…Huh?” I turned my body to face her.
“It’s called sexsomnia.” she replied, her voice shaky. “I don’t want to get into detail about it. You can Google it yourself. But it explains a lot. I slept in the same bed as Chris a few nights in a row to see if what you were saying was true…”
“You didn’t believe me.” I interrupted, stating it plainly as if observing a fact.
Molly made an indifferent face. “I didn’t. Either way, it turns out I most likely have it. Every so often I go into this trance during sleep, I don’t remember it, it’s hard to wake me up, and… well, you know. Chris handled it well. I guess your attraction to me made a perfect storm.”
“I still was a bad person though, right?” I asked, stupidly forming it as a question.
“Of course you were.” Molly replied evenly, staring at the floor. Silence took us for close to a solid minute before Molly decided to speak up again.
“When things happened, when I was sleeping… were you ever the one to initiate it, or was it me every time?”
The question caught me off guard. I looked at her again, but she was looking down at the ground, almost forcefully, as if demanding I not look at her either.
I mustered up my strength and in the most confident and truthful tone I could muster, I replied, “Every time I waited for you to start. There was one night where I was in bed with you and you didn’t do anything, and so I just accepted that and didn’t start anything.”
Molly looked me in the eyes again, studying my face. “Okay.” she finally said. “I’m going to take a huge risk here and believe you.”
“Thank you.” I replied sincerely.
“And if you never started it, given the situation I’m not going to press charges or do anything legal.”
I frankly didn’t even remember that was on the table but as soon as she said that, it was like a huge load was lifted off of my shoulders. “Th-thank you.” I managed to repeat. It felt like only now it was actually sinking in how serious this was.
“You’re welcome.” Molly replied, politely as ever yet flatly. She stood back up. “But I’m only doing that because you never forced me. This wasn’t a favor and it doesn’t mean anything.”
“I’m still very uncomfortable around you, and I still want you to not talk to me as much as you can help it.” she continued with strength she clearly only temporarily had. “I’ve never seen you that way and I don’t think I ever will. Even if you have to talk to me, like tomorrow, I’d appreciate if you wait a couple days first.”
I exhaled. “Yeah, sure. I can do that.” I replied while nodding slowly.
She didn’t say thanks. I guess I didn’t deserve that. She just left the room, a lot more quickly than she entered, and that was that, leaving me to sit in my room again. Waiting.
Waiting for what? I didn’t know. It’s not like she was going to come crawling back into my life. I guess I was just waiting for my life to have some purpose again, a fire igniting in my soul whenever I remembered Molly and her life, a life she was as of now going to be living without me.
In movies, it’s so easy for time to pass. If you needed four months to pass you by, you just include a couple of shots of winter turning into spring. Even in books, it’s so easy to make time pass. In real life, I didn’t have that luxury. Every single day, itching to become different from the last, it was just filled with emptiness, spare for the occasional task that would take my mind away from what I had done and the part of me that was gone now. That and the burning guilt that welled up within me whenever I remembered her and wondered what she was doing, possibly not 20 feet away from me, and I wasn’t allowed to know.
Occasionally I’d even blame myself. “Finally,” I bet Daisy or Chris would think. Maybe even Molly. I’d feel funny, like I was the less important one, and wonder how my actions would impact Molly, possibly for the rest of her life.
I saw her occasionally. We’d bump into each other on the bus or in the kitchen and just instantly look away from each other. Usually one of us would immediately sigh after we looked away. Sometimes we’d sigh at the same time. It was like we made a new way of communicating with each other. I felt like it was becoming a game, an unspoken communication, but then I remembered the last time I thought she was playing an unspoken game with me and immediately banish such thoughts from my mind.
It was the end of spring at this point. I couldn’t even say “before long,” because it was long. It was agonizing. I felt every single day pass me by. It was like being in purgatory. I was spending most of my time at the end of spring the way I normally did – glued to the couch, usually with Jerome, watching whatever stupid movie he desired. Sometimes Chris would join us, but he would never look my way. Often he didn’t, because he’d lose his flamboyant charm around me, I guess due to discomfort. Then Jerome would ask him what was wrong and Chris wouldn’t be able to answer. He never told Jerome, it seemed. I didn’t know whether that was kind of unkind of him. I guess it depended on whose perspective I was looking from.
It was after finals, yet again. The semester passed by emotionlessly, without point. I thought that a month or two was all I needed to bounce back, but I was definitely incorrect. I passed all of my classes with ease, but that didn’t matter for shit now. None of it did. I came to university to find a purpose in life – I wasn’t expecting to find out that I already had it, and with one little slip, I lost it.
I stared forward, barely paying attention to Jaws as Jerome watched it with half-hearted interest of his own. This was it now, this was my life. I couldn’t even pretend that school was my life, given how little interest I had in it. I smiled to myself as I remembered that one time I got an F on my Balkan Coast paper. School mattered so much to me those days. I even gave the paper to Daisy to proofread.
Daisy. I almost forgot about her. She would have been thirteen now. I couldn’t help but wonder what she was up to – whether that shtick she was doing was holding up, how she was with Molly… if she ever told her. If she ever knew I told Molly. If she ever knew our friendship was in shambles, and, in a weird way, if Daisy would ever forgive me since I told her.
I wasn’t forgiveness-worthy though. I felt like there was some kind of force field around me. Like, even those who were ignorant knew something, and knew enough to not ask me further. Once or twice Jerome would ask me what happened between us, reminiscing about how we used to spend a lot of time together and now noting a weird tension. I would never respond with the whole story, but I would respond with the most honest answer I could muster.
“I don’t know.”
Blame it on the haze, but I couldn’t articulate what even happened anymore, or why. I just kept thinking about her. I couldn’t not.
I shook my head and refocused on Jaws. This kind of overthinking happened several times a day at this point. I was looking forward to that time, that one magical moment down the line, where I’d stop thinking about her daily, and then, finally, both of us could move on with our lives. That wasn’t going to be today, though. Every so often I would see her again, coming home from class, and be reminded of… everything. All over again.
Today was one of those such times. The front door opened swiftly and in walked Molly, holding her phone to her ear with her shoulder. She was laughing. I hated how much I loved that laugh. It made me feel everything from day one to now all over again.
Molly was dressed a lot more liberally now. Before she was happy with a simple t-shirt and jeans combination, now she was seemingly experimenting with her comfort. If I were her friend, it would have made me so happy to see her come out of her shell like this. Today she was wearing some kind of modest light red dress, which she pulled off incredibly well. She looked so happy and carefree. Confident.
With said confidence, she closed the door behind her and grabbed her phone again. She held the other hand over the speaker and called out, “Hey Jerome!” casually. Jerome just nodded in response.
Molly then turned to me and gave me a small, soft, nervous smile, complemented with a little wave. Politely, I waved back. That nervousness was now weirdly out of character for her. It kind of reminded me of Old Molly, if you will.
There was every possibility that it was all me. Maybe the reason she had anxiety in the past was just me. After all, she seemed happier now. More easy-going. Easier-going. She had anxiety all her life, sure, but she also had me all her life. Maybe I was the biggest reason she had anxiety, and once she was over that hurdle, her life was better. Maybe I was toxic to her. Maybe I was just toxic. May was going to be here soon, maybe I should have just moved out.
After the wave, Molly just disappeared downstairs. Ten minutes passed by until I decided I wasn’t really comfortable around people anymore. Seeing Molly happy without me had that effect on me, jackass that I was. Without a word, I got up and started walking down slowly to my room.
I spent years drooling over Molly. Years. Now I was expected to throw that all away, and because of what? Because of Holly’s stupid plan. Because shit happened and Holly wanted to be a sadistic bitch and ruin it all for everyone.
I stopped on the stairs, reality hitting me like a lightning bolt. I had known that it was all my fault before, I had even said it out loud to myself, but I never really felt it. I was blaming Holly for my own faults. It wasn’t her that did this. She didn’t help, but I listened to her. I set the plan up. I did what I did to Molly while she was asleep and I didn’t stop her when she came on to me, nor research sexsomnia until after she told me, nor did I tell her after the first time it happened. I was a terrible friend. I was not paying attention to consent, and I did not deserve her. Daisy was right. Chris was right. Everyone but myself and anyone who supported me through this was right, and now I had to shoulder that guilt for the rest of my life. And fuck it, for the first time maybe I understood, that was what I richly deserved.
As I neared the bottom of the stairs, I smiled faintly at Molly’s door. If anything, I would have killed to have one more chance to prove myself, to show that I still looked out for her, but Molly was on her own now. She was happier without me. Maybe that was a coincidence, maybe it wasn’t. I just knew that that wasn’t for me to find out.
I barely got to the door when I overheard some of her phone conversation. A lot of it was muffled, but I’d hear a few stray words now and then. I knew I was already awful to her and she deserved to have me not be involved in… well, anything, but I also knew I was weak, and I was through the looking glass. Quietly, carefully, I tiptoed to her door and pressed my ear against it.
A little gossip here and there, talk about classes being over, her reacting to whatever the other person was saying. It made me smile. Listening to Molly having a happy time, even with someone else, acted like a weird consolation prize of sorts. It was kind of cute. I hated to say it, but it was clear that my crush on her had not died down at all. Not that I was ever going to do anything about that.
Maybe it was because I was thinking about how much she meant to me when she said it, but the next thing she said made me snap. It made me think. It made me reconsider a lot of choices, and it made me act. It changed my life.
“A… party? I mean, sure! I’m not normally the type… yeah, yeah. Well, honestly, I’ve never gone to one before. …Okay, sure! …Oh jeez, there will be? Okay, I’ll try, just make sure nothing weird happens…”
A party. Molly at a party. My friend Molly at a party. Even now she sounded anxious. A few months ago this would have set off some serious warning alarms, and I couldn’t lie, a few were going right now. Molly was nervous, she was worried, and she was going to be thrust into an environment, maybe even peer pressured into it, and she would be totally uncomfortable.
I wasn’t thinking of stopping her. God, no. I wasn’t even thinking of going there with her and protecting her at all times. But she said it herself, she wasn’t the type to go to parties, and it couldn’t have hurt to have someone be at that party, someone she knew well, not being around her but just… watching. Making sure she’s okay. Just in case. I may have screwed up in the past, but I still wanted to be her friend. That didn’t mean being her favorite, that meant protecting her, that meant being there for her. And if she was fine, I’d just leave her be and enjoy the party.
If I wanted to prove to the universe that I still had Molly’s best interests at heart, I needed to be a friend. Not a direct friend, but an invisible friend, a watchful, helpful friend. And going to the party and making sure Molly was okay was exactly what a friend would do.
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