The morning after


Once again I woke up with a headache and puffy eyes. Luckily I had limited the drinks after we left the restaurant so the hangover wasn’t as gruesome as I had feared. I looked at the alarm clock next to the bathroom mirror. It was 8.30 am. I was still in that state where, what had happened the night before still seemed abstract enough to have been nothing but a shitty nightmare. The truth of it hit me like a brick wall just seconds later. I was once again fighting the urge of waking Sasha up and clearing the air. Given the events of last night and the massive hangover he must have today I discarded the thought immediately. I got in the shower and let the warm water soothe my aching body. I had spend the night on the bathroom rug in a fetal position after my exhaustion from crying had gotten the best of me. I still couldn’t figure out why the day that had started out so perfectly had turned into this. I turned the water off and dried myself off with Sasha’s towel as I couldn’t find mine anywhere. Luckily a pair of jeans and an old sweater still lay crumbled on top of my laundry basket. This would have to do for now. I resentfully put on my old underwear again, I wanted to get new ones but didn’t want to see Sasha just yet, even if he was just sleeping. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole thing had to do with Meg leaving yesterday. It was still too early to call her so I tiptoed to the kitchen. The remains of the joint Sasha had apparently smoked last night and his glass were still there. The glass was sticking to the table so I got a paper towel an wiped it clean. I put the glass in the sink and started to make myself a coffee, when I suddenly realized that I didn’t want to be here when he woke up. I bolted from my chair as if something had bitten me. I needed to leave and clear my head, get coffee and breakfast and maybe call Meg.

I grabbed my jacket and my wallet from my purse stuffing it deep into my pocket. I wanted to leave my cell phone behind to make Sasha worry for once that he couldn’t get away with everything but that would mean that I wouldn’t be able to call Meg. I closed the door behind me as quietly as possible even though I knew that once Sasha was in an alcohol induced coma nothing could wake him. As I wandered around the city at 9 in the morning, I realized that a lot of shops and cafés didn’t open until 10 am. I pulled my jacket tighter. Even though it had gotten a lot warmer it was still cool in the early morning hours. I had wandered around for almost 20 minutes when I finally found a Café with empty wine crates as tables and fat, soft cushions on wine boxes as chairs. They had wireless which made it even more perfect. I ordered a cappuccino and a sandwich and found a quiet place in the corner where I could rest my head on the wall and think.

***

My mind kept rotating around last night. Had I missed something, some sort of sign that I should have talked to Sasha before he had gotten too drunk to be rational? Had I done something to piss him off. No matter how much I thought about it, I didn’t know. I let my mind wander to back home and to Joey. I had never had fights like that with him. He had never been disrespectful or loud for that matter. I didn’t even think he had ever as much as mumbled „fuck you“ under his breath when we had a fight. I thought about what that meant. Maybe Sasha and I had more passion, more feeling, and that’s why our fights always got out of hand. Joey and my relationship was always smooth and solid. Smooth sailing as they say, if there was ever so much as a breeze we quickly found a way to get our boat back on track together. With Sasha it was more of a full on collision each and every time we fought and it was difficult to pick up the pieces together if you didn’t know where to start looking.

I ordered another cappuccino and looked at my phone. It was 10.30 and late enough to call Meg. My call went to voice mail. I put my phone on the table and stared at it unsure of what to do next. I drummed my fingers against the rim of my empty coffee cup. Was this urgent enough to go over to Meg’s and talk to her in person? As my mind was still racing I saw my display light up. It was Meg. „Hey sweetie, you are up early. So I take it the night ended early?“ I was relieved. She didn’t seem too angry with me and I took that as a good sign. „No, it was pretty late. But I stopped drinking at some point.“ I replied. „Oh ok, is everything alright then?“ She seemed to have picked up only my uneasy undertone and all of a sudden I didn’t know why I had called. I didn’t want to have to tell her what happened last night, at least not all of it. But why else would I have left the house early in the morning to get away from my boyfriend. I surpassed the urge to just slam the phone down and call her later telling her it had died. „Yeah, sure. It just seemed weird that you left so early, I just wanted to check if everything was ok with you.“ Maybe if I made it about her, I could keep her from asking more questions. „Yeah, Em. It’s actually ok. I just felt like going home.“ „Ok.“ my voice trailed off before I could ask her if Sasha had anything to do with it. She read my mind. „It wasn’t Sasha’s fault.“ I sighed relieved. „I know he can be a bit overprotective of me sometimes, so I was just wondering if he said anything.“ She didn’t reply. „Did he say anything?“ My heart started beating faster. „Look Em, yeah he did. But he was drunk and I said some stuff which he might have heard and he is very overprotective, just as you said.“ „Can you tell me what he said?“ I heard myself ask. „No, I don’t think I want to. It wasn’t that bad, at least not as bad as what happened with Lena.“ I sucked in some air. She knew about Lena? We had never spoken about it and as far as I knew they only hung out together when I was there too. The thought of them talking about me behind my back made me flinch. „How do you…?“ „We talked about it, we worry about you Emma. You know we love you too and we want only good things for you.“ So they were talking about me. „I’d rather you spoke with me instead of about me.“ I couldn’t help my voice being edgy. „But we tried Emma. Each and every time you either shut us out or Sasha came along and had something to say about it. Look, Lena is pissed and she wants no drama in her life but I am ok with this. It is about you and I want to be your friend. If that means I have to accept Sasha for who he is I will try my best.“ A single fat tear rolled down my cheek. I took a sip from my cold coffee and wiped it away. „It’s ok Megan. You don’t need to bother anymore.“ I hung up and just stared at my phone.

What had I done. Megan was the only person I had left but somehow I couldn’t stand talking to her anymore. I didn’t have the energy anymore. I couldn’t defend Sasha all the time, I couldn’t keep everything he did and said secrets from each and everyone around me anymore because it would all be used against him. Maybe it was better if I just dealt with it alone.

***

I didn’t expect Megan to call me back after I hung up but she did. I let it go to voice mail. She called me twice after that again but each time I looked at the display and put the phone down again. I would talk to her again eventually but not now. I had to figure our what had caused Sasha to flip out like that and I had to talk to him about Natalia. But I certainly wouldn’t solve anything by sitting here drinking coffee and crying over friends I no longer had.

I opened the door to a silent apartment. As I noisily dropped my keys and jacket on the sideboard I heard Sasha stir through the open bedroom door. „Hey babe, is that you? I feel like shit.“ I didn’t reply. My gaze wandered to the small black gift bag that I had prepared a couple of days early. It held a tent, matches and a compass and with it a voucher for a camping trip that we would take together. Despite being spoiled and used to 5 star hotels, Sasha loved camping. He had complained more than once that he didn’t have anyone to go camping with since I really didn’t like it and his family wouldn’t go with him. „Baby, are you there?“ I picked up the bag and held it close. I didn’t even get to give him his gift last night. „Yeah I am here.“ I didn’t really know what to do next.

I heard Sasha fumble with the water bottle next to his side of the bed. „Shit I am still wasted I think.“ He laughed and I heard him noisily finish whatever had been in that bottle. „Hey do you mind brining some more water baby?“ I dropped the bag on the floor and quietly grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge. „Here you go.“ I didn’t look at him. „Thanks baby. Where have you been?“ „Out.“ „What? That’s all I get? Come on give me a kiss, best girlfriend in the world. I had the best night ever.“ Did he really not remember anything? „Sasha, last night.. you don’t remember?“ „Remember what?“ He took another swig from the bottle and looked at me with real curiosity. He either was a very good actor or he didn’t know what I was talking about. „You were so mean to me.“ I didn’t know how else to put it, how to phrase the hurt that I had felt last night. „Mean? Like what?“ I didn’t want to repeat it but I did „You called me a bitch, and told me you didn’t live here. You told me you didn’t care what I did.“ I looked at the wall opposite our bed to keep the tears from forming in my eyes. „Emma, I wouldn’t do that.“ Sasha’s voice had an edge, almost like he found my accusations amusing. „But you did.“ „Emma, come on. I am sure you were just drunk and misunderstood.“ „No it was you who was drunk. I was perfectly fine.“ I was angry now and got up. He took my hand and pulled me back down. „Emma, seriously. Why would I say that. I had a great night, which you planned for me. I had nothing but love for you last night.“ He smiled a crooked smile. „No Sasha, you didn’t. Don’t you say I imagined things.“ „That is not what I am saying, I am saying you might have misunderstood, or overreacted. That is all. And that wouldn’t be the first time.“ He almost mumbled the last bit. „What?“ I looked him directly in the eye and jumped off the bed again. „Come on Emma, that thing with Inge. It was a harmless flirtation which you blew out of proportion.“ „What?“ I could only ask again. „Your jealously over Natalia. Don’t you think I know what you said to her last night?“ „Sasha, what are you talking about?“ „Didn’t you tell her to go home and keep her hands off me?“ he smirked. „No Sasha I didn’t. I told her you should go home because you were drunk.“ „That is not what she said.“ „Well I don’t care what she said, who are you going to believe, me or her?“ „Oh Emma, why are you being such a drama queen?“ I held my breath. I was afraid of what I was going to say if I didn’t. „Ah Babe, come on…“ I didn’t let him finish. I turned on my heel slamming the bedroom door behind me. If he wanted drama, he would get drama.

***

But as soon as I was out the door the realization hit me once again. I had nowhere to go. I pressed my fists onto my closed eyelids and tried to think of what to do next. I heard Sasha get up and open the door to the bedroom forcefully. „What the fuck is wrong with you now?“ He yelled. I couldn’t grasp the change of tone so quickly and just turned around staring at him. „What? Didn’t you want to cause some more drama? Why don’t you just fucking leave me if I am so horrible?“ He pushed past me and took my jacket off the sideboard. „Here you go.“ He snickered as he slammed it into my hands. „What are you doing?“ I stammered. „Helping you, what does it look like?“ I watched him as he opened the door to the apartment. He took my shoes and threw them down the stairs across from our door. „There you go. Go fetch.“ He took my arm and used his other hand to push me out of the door. It didn’t hurt, at least not physically. „Sasha, please, what are you doing? Let’s talk about this.“ He started closing the door as I pleadingly tried to hold it open. „What is there to talk about baby? You want to leave me. I am just helping you do that.“ „That’s not what I said..“ I couldn’t believe that I was in this situation when just seconds before I was so angry with him I wanted to leave voluntarily. He closed the door further. „Sasha, please, don’t do this“ I put my foot between the door but he pushed on. „Please you are hurting me.“ He stopped. But I could hear him turn around and go back to the bedroom. I didn’t have the energy to go back inside. I just sank to the floor and cried.

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