Some things are better left unheard

Drinks at the hotel were over so quickly I barely finished the Martini Cocktail which pleasantly revived my buzz from the afternoon. I was excited for this evening, it was Sasha’s first real birthday party and even though it was mostly people I barely spoke too I couldn’t wait to spend some time with them. I felt beautiful and sexy and like I belonged to the expensive restaurant that Sasha picked. When we entered I could see that only Dima was there. He hugged Sasha and even I got more than a short nod this time. „You look great, Emma.“ „Thanks Dima“. I could see Sasha watching us, but I was sure he was fine with his friend being nice to me. More Nikolay and one of his colleagues were next to come and I greeted them with enthusiasm. But as I saw Meg enter I shrieked. I practically ran over to her. „Oh my god, I am so glad you are here.“ „Hey there, slow down. Me too“ She gave me a hug.“No where is the birthday boy?“ I led her to our table and she gave Sasha a peck on each cheek. „Happy birthday you crazy guy, I can see you have the best present already.“ She gestured at me and I couldn’t help but flush. Sasha grabbed me around the waist and pulled me closer. „Yes I really do.“

I was talking to Meg about work when Natalia entered the room, looking more stunning than I had ever seen her. It felt like every man and every woman in the room for that matter stared at her but she didn’t seem to notice. She took Max by the hand and let him over to their table. My confidence faded instantly. „Who is that?“ Megan whispered. „That’s Natalia, Sasha’s colleague.“ „Shit, she is pretty.“ I fumbled with the seam of my dress. Compared to her my legs were the size of tree trunks and I shouldn’t be wearing a dress like this. Natalia had wished Sasha a happy birthday and made her way over to me, greeting me more enthusiastically than I felt was necessary. She also introduced Max to me again, and when I mentioned that I had met him already, she just shrugged and laughed. Max kept behind her, it was clear he didn’t know what to say, given the ending of her birthday party that had involved Sasha and I. „Hi“ I waved shyly. He waved back, before they took their seats, right next to Sasha.

I placed myself on the other side of his chair and motioned Megan to sit next to me. Sasha ordered a couple of bottles of champagne for the table and then asked for the wine list. We were 8 in total, Sasha and I, Natalia and Max, Megan, Dima, Nikolay and another guy from work that I hadn’t met before. Since Megan and I were the only ones not fluent in Russian we were forced to include Max in our conversation which turned out to be difficult from where he was sitting as we had to talk over Sasha, bending either back or forward depending on who Sasha was talking to. At some point Natalia interrupted the conversation. „Guys, why don’t Max and Sasha swap places, then you guys can talk better, yes?“ It wasn’t really a question and Max immediately got up. I wasn’t sure if Sasha liked this, but he didn’t say anything. He switched places so he was sitting next to Natalia, two places over from mine. We tried to pick up the conversation from before but I couldn’t help but look over at Sasha more often than I liked. By the time the waiters in crisp white shirts took the empty appetizer plates, the 3rd bottle of champagne was empty and so were the first 2 bottles of wine Sasha had ordered. He ordered 3 more and a bottle of Vodka. „Anyone want to go out for a smoke?“ Sasha made a gesture that indicated that he was going to smoke more than a cigarette. „Sure“, Natalia, Max and Dima got up as well and when Kolja saw that he would be stuck with Megan and I he followed. Sasha’s colleague excused himself to go to the bathroom. Megan and I took the chance to assess the situation. „So how much champagne and wine did you have?“ Megan asked. „Not much, a glass, maybe one and a half?“ I wasn’t sure. „Me too. So it is true what they say about the Russians.“ She grinned. „Yeah I guess so.“ „Well you should know, right?“ I thought about if she meant this as insulting as it came across but decided that she didn’t. „So what do you think so far?“ I asked her. „It’s fun hanging out with you and Max seems like a nice guy, even though he is a bit too stuck up and preppy for my taste.“ I wanted to ask her about what she thought of Sasha, especially since she wasn’t a big fan of him before they started dating, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. „Yeah you are right.“ Maybe I could steer the conversation in the right direction. „I am so glad Sasha is enjoying this, you know, it’s his first real birthday party.“ „Really?“, she widened her eyes in surprise. „From what I can see he really knows how to party.“ „Yeah, that’s not what I meant. His parents never really made a big deal out of him, or his birthdays for that matter.“ „Ah I see, that explains a lot.“ She mumbled that last part but I still understood perfectly well what she was trying to say. „Look, I know he is a little out there, but he is very sweet and he loves me so much. Just last week he rented the whole Spa area of a 5-star hotel just to surprise me.“ „Emma, don’t worry about me. I am fine with Sasha, as long as he treats you well. We all had our share of „bad boys“ it’s fine.“ She took a big sip from her water glass. Was she implying that Sasha was just a phase, an experience you made before you met the real deal. My voice was scratchy when I said „Megan, I really love him.“ „I know sweetie, I know you do. And I am happy he does too. Just be careful, ok. That is all I am saying. It would be great if you could change him and make him the perfect gentleman. But I have seen him in his natural habitat before you came along. And while everything he feels about you seems genuine it could be easy for him to fall back into old patterns. But of course I hope I am wrong about this.“ My face fell a little more with each word she said. Why did no one believe in him?

I only noticed Sasha, when Megan glanced up in surprise. „Oh hey, Sasha. You guys are back.“ „Yeah. We are. Can I have a second with my girlfriend?“ His voice was tight. „Sure.“ I could tell Megan was nervous if Sasha had overheard our conversation. She got up and slipped to the bathroom. „Are you having fun my love?“ Sasha’s words were a bit slurry but much softer than before. „Of course I am.“ I grazed his arm with my fingertips. „And you?“ „Yes, it’s a great party so far. Everyone is loving it. Is Megan too? She looked so intense just now.“ I didn’t know how much he had heard and I didn’t want to lie to him if he had heard anything at all. „Yeah she likes it. She is just worried about me. But not in a bad way.“ „I see.“ He smiled lightly and stroked my cheek. „Well I gotta get the others, it looks like they are about to serve our main course.“ „Sure, baby.“ He was right, the waiters were coming our way with plates stacked full of delicious smelling food. When Megan came back we both decided it would be better to change the subject. 

***
With the main course the 3 bottles of wine and the vodka were finished, so more of the same was ordered. By the time dessert came everyone was slurring their words, talking too loud and barking orders at the waiters. Megan and I had stayed clear of the Vodka so we were better off than the others. „What the eff is in that Vodka?“ Megan whispered. „I don’t know.“ Sasha had sat back down next to me, his arm was heavy on my shoulders while he was leaning over the table to talk to Dima. Dima ordered beers and two Whiskeys for Sasha and him. I pulled Sasha closer and whispered „Hey baby, why don’t you slow down with the drinks.“ „Ah don’t spoil the fun. I am having fun, aren’t you having fun?“ He was trying to hold my gaze but I could tell he couldn’t focus anymore.“ „Yeah I am, of course. Listen, should we go outside for a minute? Just to get some fresh air? I could give you your present?“ He seemed to think about that proposition for a second before I realized he wasn’t looking at me anymore, but at Megan. „Maybe later.“ he said, turning away from me continuing his conversation with Dima. „Excuse me“ I said, to no one really as no one cared that I was leaving the table. When I was looking at 1000 little versions of me in the completely mirror covered bathroom I wanted to cry. I didn’t know why it felt so wrong since I had wanted Sasha to have fun but I felt completely left out of the whole experience. He had barely spoken to me all evening and most of the conversations were in Russian. If I hadn’t invited Meg I would have been stuck talking to Max and I knew from last time that Sasha didn’t like that at all. Maybe that is what I should be doing instead, maybe then he would notice me again. The thought crossed my mind for only a second and I realized that that wasn’t who I wanted to be. „Bullshit“ I said out loud, hoping no one was there. I took a deep breath, put a big smile on my face and walked out of the bathroom.

Back at the table I asked the waiter for a refill of my champagne and wine glass and drank them both quickly. Sasha wasn’t at the table, maybe he had gone to the bathroom as well. I sat back down only to realize that Megan wasn’t there either. Max was talking to Natalia and the others were back to Russian so I just sat and waited and finished another glass of wine. After 10 minutes Sasha came back but Megan still wasn’t there. „Hey baby“ I felt a little drunker than before and hoped that he noticed that my mood had improved. „Where is Megan?“ „Oh she went home. She told me to tell you.“ He kissed me quickly and asked Dima something without paying any more attention to me. My safety net was gone. I took out my phone and texted Megan „Why did you have to leave? How am I going to survive this night without you? xxx“ I waited for an answer for a while, trying to understand what the others were talking about. It didn’t look like Meg to just leave like that without saying good bye. I hoped that nothing happened. My phone moved around on the table with a text. „Yeah, sorry about that. I think it’s better this way. Talk to you some other time. Preferably alone. xxx“. I was too drunk to really care about what this was supposed to mean so I just angrily slammed my phone into my purse. If she didn’t want to hang out with me that was fine. I looked around the room, we were the only guest left, only our waiters were standing in the corner looking bored. A glance at my watch confirmed that it was almost 1 o clock. They probably all wanted to go home, but Sasha and the others didn’t look like they were ready to leave any time soon. As I was the soberest of them all I went over to the bar and let them know that we were not going to be much longer. They nodded politely and told me that it didn’t matter but I could see the gratitude in their eyes. I went over to Sasha who was in a deep conversation with Natalia. „Hey babe, I think they want to close.“ Sasha’s head was bobbing from side so side as he licked his lips. I could see that he was contemplating if he cared about this or he didn’t. Natalia spoke first. „Oh, we should go then. We can go to a club, yes?“ Sasha noisily sucked in some air and didn’t say anything. I looked from him to Natalia and back to him and he finally said „Ok.“ I signaled the waiter that we were ready to pay and he went to the back to get our check ready. I could see that Sasha was in no state of mind to go anywhere but home. When he got up to get his jacket and his wallet I asked Natalia „Do you think it’s a good idea to go somewhere else? Sasha is wasted, and so is everyone else.“ She looked me up and down and just said „Why don’t you go home then?“. I was lost for words once again. „Um, that is not what I meant. I meant Sasha shouldn’t be here anymore. He should be home.“ „I know what you meant. Sasha should be here. Where he belongs. It’s you that doesn’t belong here.“ She got up and sat on Max’s lap. I wasn’t sure if I was imagining this or if this had really happened. Of course Sasha was in no state for me to tell him about it so I just sat quietly and waited for him to return. My head was spinning like crazy and there was a sudden pounding behind my left eye. Who did she think she was? I got up and went over to help Sasha with the check. He was talking to the waiter switching between German and English and sometimes Russian. I could only make out parts of it but I realized that it had something to do with having no money. „Baby, what’s going on?“ „These fuckers don’t get that I am going to pay them tomorrow“, he almost spat the words. „Why would you do that, we can pay right now?“ The waiter looked at me and tried to explain. „Your boyfriend claims to have forgotten his credit card and his cash is not…“ „“Fuck off, I have money and you know it.“ „Ok, how much do we need?“ „1.253 Euros.“ „What?“ I gasped for air. He showed me the check. It was actually 1.9053, but he had crossed off the items Sasha had already paid with the cash he had on him. „Um hold on. We need a second here.“ I turned my back to the waiter and whispered to Sasha hoping he would understand me. „Can’t we just ask the others to pay the rest? You can pay them back tomorrow.“ He looked at me, face red and a little spit dripping down his chin. „No fucking way, I invited them here, no one is paying. This asshole needs to get his shit together.“ He got even louder at the word asshole, gesturing to the waiter. „Babe, please, calm down. I will take care of it.“ „Fine.“ He stormed off but I could see that he had gotten back to normal once he was back at the table. „I am sorry.“ I said quietly. „I understand.“ I could tell that this wasn’t the first time a drunk rich kid had an outburst here but still I didn’t want to be in the middle of it. „So can I pay with credit card?“ „Certainly.“

I didn’t know how I would explain this to my parents but then again Sasha would have paid me back until the credit card bill arrived so it would be fine. I walked back to the table and took Sasha’s hand. „It’s done.“ „Good.“ He didn’t say anything else, but put on his coat and told the others and the staff still standing near by in English „We are never coming to this shithole again. Not me, not my lovely girlfriend over here and not my awesome friends who made this party what it is.“ He squeezed me hard when he said girlfriend and the others cheered. I just wanted to get out of here. I grabbed my coat and tried to lead Sasha and the others outside without another incident. When the cool air hit me I was thankful that this night would be over soon. „So where do we go now?“ Natalia asked in a sweet child like voice. I hated her at this very moment, even more than before. Why could she not just see that this night shouldn’t be continued. „Any club is fine with me.“ Nikolay said and Kolja nodded. Sasha was just standing there looking at his friends, trying to light up another joint. I nudged him in the side. „Should we go home?“ „No fucking way, my friends want to go out. We will go out. You can go home.“ Miserably I realized that indeed that was my only option, as no one in this group would voluntarily end this night just yet. But I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to leave Sasha alone when he was this drunk and after my conversation earlier, especially not with Natalia. She wasn’t going to win tonight.

As I feared the club was packed and the bouncer, who didn’t even want to let us in, succumbed when Max took out a wad of cash and slipped it into his hands. The guys ordered another bottle of Vodka and luckily paid for it. „This is on us, Sasha. Happy birthday old man.“ I couldn’t even make out what his reply was.



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