When I woke up at 9 I knew immediately that he hadn't come to bed. I was frantic and pushed my phone off the bedside table when I tried to grab it. I pressed the button on the side with it still on the floor, lighting up the display. There where no messages, no missed calls. I couldn't believe it. Tears sprang to my eyes, mixed with a vision of the gorgeous blonde and Sasha making out. Where had he been and where had he spent the night? I pushed myself out of bed and made my way over to the clean but empty kitchen. My heart sank. Could this be over already, just because I hadn't been there for him? I couldn't believe it.
When I left the kitchen to go to the bathroom I saw the closed living room door and a rush of excitement flushed through my veins. I had left it open, I distinctively remembered that. So Sasha was home, he just didn't want to wake me. I carefully opened the door and saw him lying on the couch snoring loudly, still in yesterday's clothes. I closed the door, and cried silent tears of relief.
It was three in the afternoon when he finally woke up.“Fuck, I feel like shit“. He looked like shit too, but I didn’t tell him that. „I got us some lunch, would you like some?“ „Hell, yeah“. I was so angry at him for not telling me where he had been or at least calling but some part of me felt like I didn’t have the right to be. He walked past me to the kitchen without so much as looking at me. I set the plate of noodle soup in front of him and sat down. „So what did you guys end up doing last night?“ I asked innocently. „Nothing special.“ Sasha took a spoon full of soup and some of it dripped down his chin. He didn’t bother wiping it away. His forehead was sweaty and red. „Did you have fun though?“ I tried again. „Who the fuck cares?“ He pushed his chair away and got up from the table. „Can you stop with the inquisition?“ I was speechless. After all he had done I had been nice enough not to say anything but to take interest in whatever happened with him and that was all he could say? „Sascha what is wrong with you?“ „Nothing, I am just fucking done being interrogated, ok?“. I didn’t want to cry but I had no way of stopping my tears. They kept streaming down my face as I stared at him in disbelief. He looked at me, seemingly disgusted by what he saw and walked out the door, taking his jacket off the floor in one swift move and left the apartment.
I didn’t know what to do. On the one hand I din’t want to be there when he came back but I also had no where to go. I couldn’t tell my girls what had happened, they didn’t like him too much to begin with and had they known any of this they would have told me to leave and never come back. But I also felt like I had sprung this on myself and that I should maybe take the time that he wasn’t there to think about why he had lashed out at me like that. He was so sensible when it came to these things and maybe it had really hurt him that I had left yesterday. I didn’t really have time to think about it too much as Sascha was back 20 minutes later. He handed me a cup of Starbucks Coffee. „It’s your favorite“. I took a sip, and discovered that it actually was. I didn’t think I had ever told him but I was glad he knew. „I am sorry..“ he looked at me. „It’s ok“ I heard myself say before he could even explain anything. i didn’t know why I let him off the hook like that. „I was just so sad that we didn’t get to spend much time together yesterday and I was also a bit hungover still so that’s why I snapped. I hope you are not too pissed. You know I love you and I think it is so sweet that you got lunch for me.“ He came over to me and hugged me tight. I felt my body stiffen under his touch but then I surrendered and let him hold me. I could smell last night on him but I didn’t say anything. „Please don’t talk to me like that again.“ I said in a small voice „I won’t. I promise.“ „Ok.“ I almost whispered.
We didn’t speak of the night again, although I was planning on telling him that I felt like this could have all been avoided if he had just called me to let me know he was coming home late. But somehow I just let it slip burying the uneasy feeling deep down inside of me hoping that I would never have to think about it again.
The past couple of weeks in hibernation mode with Sasha had really taken a toll on my studying. I was so behind I didn’t even know where to start. One morning after we had spend the whole night talking about Sasha’s childhood I got up at 7 despite being so tired I could barely think. I let Sasha sleep a little longer and made some coffee. After my second cup I felt somewhat human again and gathered my laptop and text books and sat down in the „office“ a small room with an expensive desk and a large leather chair and some, mostly empty bookshelves. Sasha wasn’t into reading at all, so most of the books in his apartment where just for show, he had never actually read any of them. I heard him get up around 9, although he should have been at work already. But by now I knew better than to wake him up for mundane stuff like that. I heard him walk to the kitchen and pour himself a coffee and then coming over to me. „Good morning hun, what are you up to so early?“ „Good morning, I really need to start taking University more seriously so I need to study.“ „Really? But you are so smart already“ He kissed my neck. „Come on! I was gonna take the day off to do something cool with you, can’t you study some other time?“ „I really, really should start. Can’t we go in the afternoon?“ He looked disappointed. „But I had something planned for us already.“ I felt like it would be good for us to do something together after all the time we had spend at home so I hesitated only for a brief second and told him „Ok, I am all yours.“ His smile was reward enough. I could start studying tonight.
He drove fast and didn’t look at the street much, but I didn’t mind. I knew he was an excellent driver and he had taken some extreme driving courses when he first got his license. After we had driven for almost 3 hours I was getting a little nervous about getting back in time to get some studying done „So are you going to tell me what we are doing?“ „No, it’s a surprise.“ And that was that. He kept driving and talking about other stuff. It took us another hour or so until we finally pulled up to a pretty much deserted parking lot except for a huge bus. Sasha got out and opened the door for me, something I had grown accustomed to over the past few months. It had seemed weird at first, but now I kind of enjoyed the extra attention and waited for him to make his way around the car. „Here we are pretty lady“ he said taking my hand. It was an old brick building and it said „Prague Shooting Range“ on top of the green entrance door. I wasn’t sure if that was a joke or if it really was his idea of a fun date with me but I didn’t want to be a party pooper so I tried to keep an open mind. The man behind the counter spoke English with a heavy accent and Sasha started speaking Russian to him. Apparently he understood, as he came back with two forms for us to fill out and asked us for an ID. Our instructor met us shortly after, a friendly guy who spoke excellent English and led us to an indoor shooting range with different targets. When he handed us the guns explaining all safety rules and measures I couldn’t help it but my hands were shaking. „You don’t have to be nervous“, the instructor said, „it’s all very easy and you are going to have a lot of fun today.“ Sasha didn’t seem like he was nervous. He knew exactly how to hold and handle the gun and it looked like he belonged here. He looked confident and a little dangerous and much to my surprise I found him incredibly sexy that way. I didn’t think that I would have fun dealing with guns or shooting at all but it turned out we had a really fun afternoon trying out all different sorts of guns and rifles and learning about them. Sasha kept looking over at me as if to see if I was enjoying myself and overtime I felt him staring I shot him a little smile so he would know that I was having fun too. After 3 hours it was time to get back to Munich. In the car Sasha asked me flat out „Did you have fun?“ „Of course I did, didn’t you see me there? I was like Tomb Rider or one of the Bond Girls or something.“ „Yeah, you did look really sexy holding a gun.“ He leaned over and kissed me. „Don’t you wanna look at the road?“ „No I wanna do this.“ He pulled the car over to the side of the street. We were in a foreign country and I didn’t know the rules but I was pretty sure that this was not ok. „Do you think this is a good idea?“ „I think this is an excellent idea,“ he started unbuttoning my shirt. I thought about it for a split second. After all it had felt so good doing something dangerous and out of my comfort zone and he found me sexy that way. I didn’t protest after that.
We got back around midnight and I was too tired to study after that and just fell into a deep sleep. When the alarm rang in the morning I almost forgot where I was or how I had gotten there. Sasha’s side of the bed was empty, he must have gotten up to go to work. It really was time to study so I called Lena to see if she was up to a little session. She was so we went to the University and got started right away. After half an hour or so she lifted her head and studied my face. „Hey Emma, can I ask you something?“ „Sure, go ahead.“ „Are you happy?“ „What do you mean?“ „I mean in general, with the Russian, with the situation, with the break up, you know with everything.“ I hated that her and Megan never called him by his name and I had told them so a million times already so I snapped „Yeah I’m happy. Why wouldn’t I be?“ „I don’t know. You seem uncomfortable in your own skin since you met him. I can’t explain. I don’t even know you that well, you just don’t seem like the girl I met anymore.“ „Well i don’t know what you are talking about, but I haven’t changed at all, and maybe you really don’t know me at all.“ „Look, I am sorry, I didn’t mean to sound judgmental or anything, I just wanted to know. It seems like such a rushed life with him all the time, all the drinking and the money and the walking on eggshells so you don’t offend him.“ „I don’t do that.“ my voice grew louder and people started looking up from their books. „Ok sorry, maybe you don’t, I don’t know. Still I think you should think about it. How many things do you still do, that YOU enjoy doing and that don’t just fit into that weird picture he has of you.“ I didn’t feel like this was her place to ask me questions like that but I didn’t want to cause a scene so I swallowed my anger. „I will think about it.“ I said quietly, with no intention of ever keeping that promise.
On my subway ride home however I could’t help but think about her comment. Had I really changed that much? I did do a lot of things I had never done before, like smoking or shooting guns, or trying weed or having sex on the side of the road in a foreign country but wasn’t that basically the point of being young? Didnt that just prove that I was doing what everyone was expecting of me? Trying new things, figuring out who you were and just kind of not thinking about the consequences. I couldn’t help but think of my mom. She had wanted this for me, the experience, the different country, the learning and the cultural differences. She had told me this would be the time of my life, so what was so wrong about actually making it that. I was quite sure that the things I had tried so far weren’t on her list of preferred experiences for me but still. The thought of her made my stomach flip. I hadn’t spoken to her in so long. After our last conversation where I had told her that I had moved in with Sasha she had been so unsupportive I had told her I didn’t want her advice anymore. She had even called my aunt and send her to check in on me. Sasha had luckily been able to send her away, telling her I wasn’t home instead of letting her see me half naked in bed with a joint in my hand but I had been so angry with my mom for not trusting me and treating me like a baby. Still I missed her a lot. I used to talk to her at least once every two days, more often than not every day. And back home she usually was the one person that I could always go to if anything bothered me. But now I couldn’t do that anymore. She didn’t understand me and worst of all she didn’t even try. She was just as judgmental as everyone else seemed to be lately, thinking I was making mistakes when I felt like for the first time I was actually doing something I wanted. Just like Lena. I quickly wiped the thought of my mom from my thoughts just like you would wipe away an annoying crumb from the table. I would be fine without all of them, I thought.
When Sasha got home that night I was still contemplating on telling him about what Lena had said. I wanted to share everything with him but I felt like he got defensive pretty quickly when people didn’t agree with him or me. I still told him, after all he was my boyfriend. After I was done telling him what she had said and how I felt about it he grew quiet and just looked at me. „Forget about her“. „But she is my friend, I want to make her understand.“ „Ok, do you think it would help if I talked to her?“ „Your would do that?“ „Of course, she needs to understand what you are to me, and what I am to you.“ „That would be great, thank you. Maybe she will hear it from you, and maybe she will finally get, that you are good for me and that I haven’t changed one bit.“ He smiled, „anything for you baby“.
A couple of days later, after I had called Lena repeatedly about starting another study session and only gotten her voice mail I had enough. I decided I would get out of bed early and go to the class I usually skipped ever since I had learned they put it up on the internet later. Lena would be there, she always was. When I arrived I spotted her sitting in the back row as usual with dark sunglasses over her pretty green eyes. That was odd, but she probably had been drinking the night before. I sat down next to her. „Hi“, I whispered. The prof was rambling on about something not really paying attention to his students. She seemed to look straight through me „What do you want?“ „What?“ I though I misheard and imagined her harsh tone but she just repeated „I said, what do you want?“ „Uhm, sorry, I am not sure I understand“. „Well, I don’t give a shit about that anymore and you can go fuck yourself.“ She spat the words in my direction and got up and left the class. Tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t remember when anyone had spoken to me like that. I really didn’t want to follow her like a lost puppy but I had to know what was ging on. I got up quickly, the chair bouncing back loudly People turned their heads and the professor stopped talking for a second. „Excuse me,“ I mumbled under my breath and practically ran out of the door.
I caught Lena on her way out of the building. I grabbed her shoulder and pulled hard as if I knew she wouldn’t stop for me otherwise. „Can you please tell me what’s going on?“ „Why don’t you ask your precious boyfriend? He seems to handle all your business, apparantly he is not too good with keeping you up to date.“ „I don’t understand.“ I cried hard now. „You don’t understand? What don’t you understand? That its not ok for other people’s boyfriends to show up at your door after you ask her if she is ok? That it’s not ok for that boyfriend to threaten you to never talk to that friend again? That it’s not ok to be called a stupid bitch that has nothing and is nothing? Do I need to go on?“ „He didn’t do that..“ I muttered, trying to breathe. „He didn’t? Wake up. He is not who you think he is. And you are not who you think you are. You are in so deep you don’t even think that anything I just said could be true. What reason would I have to lie to you Emma? Tell me? But wait he will find a reason for me, he will make me look like the bad guy here. I am sorry Emma, but I don’t want that kind of drama in my life. If you ever get rid of that asshole you are more than welcome to talk to me again but until then, I want nothing to do with you.“ She pulled her hoodie over her head and stepped out of the door, leaving me standing there trembling with tears.
Once I had calmed down a little I tried calling Sasha but he didn’t pick up. I got his voice mail for the third time when I gave up and started walking through the city. I needed to wrap my head around why Sasha would tell Lena something like that. She must have misunderstood or he must have said it as a joke and she had been to sensitive. Lena had said that that was what I would do, make up excuses for him but I couldn’t imagine it being any other way. He was rude sometimes and if you didn’t know him his tone of voice and his way of speaking could sound threatening but still I couldn’t imagine how this could have been a misunderstanding. I needed to talk to him right away and I wasn’t too far from his office so I decided to walk there. My face would have gotten somewhat back to normal by the time I would get there and I might be in time for his lunch break. When I arrived at his building it was a quarter to twelve. I called him again but he still didn’t pick up so I decided to go through the lobby to their courtyard where I knew he went to smoke, maybe I would get lucky. Once in the building I could see him standing there, his back towards me, talking to a beautiful dark haired girl with a wide smile and an impeccable outfit of a dark green pencil skirt and a crisp white blouse, revealing just enough cleavage to see that she was blessed with more than just full lips. She laughed out loud and touched his arm. I looked down at my outfit. Thinking I would just be going to the University I had just jumped into last nights jeans and a hoodie and my face was still red from crying. I contemplated going home but realized how stupid that would be given the reason of my visit. I combed my hair with my fingers and went outside. The girl and Sasha were talking in Russian. I cleared my throat and he turned around. „Baby, what are you doing here?“ He seemed genuinely happy to see me and I once again forgot why I was there when he hugged me tight and kissed my forhead. „What’s wrong? You look upset.“ I looked over to the girl and then to him. He signaled to her that he would be leaving but didn’t introduce us. We walked back through the lobby to the front entrance. „Do you wanna grab some lunch, so we can talk?“ „Uhm, ok“ I said, even though I had wanted to talk to him in private. We walked silently and Sasha held my hand tight as we reached a little Italian place around the corner. „Here?“ „Fine with me.“ I just wanted to talk. He let me in first and the waiter showed us to a table in the middle of the room. The place was packed. „I was hoping we could get a table in the corner so we can talk“ I hissed to Sasha. He gave me a funny look but asked the waiter nonetheless. He sighed loudly but lead us to another, smaller table in the corner of the room. When he had taken out drinks order I cleared my throat looking for the right question to ask while not upsetting Sasha by accusing him in any way. „I wanted to talk about…“, „You want to ask me what happened with Lena, right?“ „Yeah, I do. How do you know?“ I was relieved that he brought it up so openly. That could also only mean one thing, that he had nothing to feel guilty about. „ Well, she didn’t take what I had to say so well, so I figured that she probably told you about it, yes? „That is a bit of an understatement. She said you threatened her to leave me alone and to basically never talk to her again.“ He rolled his eyes and took a painfully long sip from the glass of wine the waiter had just set down. „Of course that is what she said.“ My heart was pounding hard and I was afraid it was going to jump out of my throat. Was this the excuse Lena had warned me about? Or was it plainly the truth that she just didn’t see? „Is that not what happened?“ „No. Not like that“ „Ok, do you wanna tell me what happened?“ „I actually don’t really, but I will tell you seeing that you are this upset. Your precious friend called me all sorts of things. Oppressive, an alcoholic, selfish and what not. I tried to remain calm and not give into her name calling but she wouldn’t stop“. That did sound like Lena. She could become quite vulgar whenever someone did something that upset her. „At some point I just said that if she didn’t like me or the choices you made by being with me, that maybe it would be better if she stopped being your friend.“ That didn’t sound like what Lena had said although it was close enough for me to be even more confused. „I’m not sure that that was your place to say stuff like that to my friends.“ He looked down at his glass and I thought I saw a tear glistening in the corner of his eye. „Do you not want me to be a part of your life?“ „What? No, of course I want you to be a part… why? That has nothing to do with that.“ „I just wanted to help. You said you wanted my help. Now I feel like nothing I ever do is right…“ His voice trailed off. „No it’s not that, it’s just that I would have rather have told her off myself, rather than have you do it for me like you are my dad or something like that.“ I tried to make a joke to save the situation but somehow I seemed to have made it worse. Sasha didn’t say anything and just kept his eyes on the glass, his hands trembling. The waiter came to talke our order but I waved him away. „Sasha, please?“ „It’s always about how you feel, Emma. All the time. It doesn’t matter that I am the one who gets talked about. The one that gets insulted. Now I am not even allowed to stand up for myself? Am I supposed to take it all so I don’t upset your precious friend? Or your feelings? It would be nice if you would stand up for me once in a while so maybe I wouldn’t have to do it for you.“ „But I did stand up to her…“ I didn’t continue my sentence. Had I really done that or had I not let her question my loyalty to Sasha in the first place. I reached for his hand from across the table and tried to peel it off the wine glass but he wouldn’t let me. „I am sorry, you are right. She shouldn’t talk to you like that, or about you. I am sorry you feel bad because of me.“ „I don’t even understand why you have friends like that in the first place,“ his voice was soft now. „Because she isn’t always like that.“ I smiled a little smile hoping to make him understand.He pulled his hand away. „So you are still going to hang out with her?“ „Well, I think if I talk to her again…“. He cut me off by standing up and pushing his chair back from the table. „Got it,“ was all he said when he stormed out of the restaurant.
I couldn’t believe what just happened. I tried to apologize telling the waiter by boyfriend had to leave because of a work emergency but I was sure he had heard what happened. I paid quickly and left the restaurant with tears streaming down my face the second I got outside. I didn’t want to have to chose between my friends and my boyfriend but on the other hand I knew that if it came down to it it would always be Sasha. It had been him so many times before, with Joey, my family, now Lena. I didn’t understand how he could not see that. I wanted to talk to him again and practically ran to his office. When I got inside the lobby I saw him standing in the courtyard, laughing with the Russian beauty from before.
I turned on my heels and left without him ever spotting me. Was this his way of getting back at me? He couldn’t have known that I would be coming back so whatever it was it wasn’t an act. I went home more confused that ever.