I warned Art that my sister, Sophia, would be in town this weekend and that I planned to spend most of it with her. Yet, not 15 minutes after she and I arrive at the bar, he’s blowing up my phone with a barrage of jealous texts and outrageous voicemails.
I set my phone on silent and l drop it in my handbag. It’s our monthly “Girls' Night Out” and I’m determined to keep him from ruining it. As I stare at the small-scale Ferris wheel spinning against the wall, Sophia asks me what’s wrong. I hate how she can read me like a book.
“This place is way too crowded,” I say, still looking at the Ferris wheel and sipping my rum and Coke. In the corner of my eye, I see her giving me a look like she knows that’s not what’s really bothering me. Thankfully, she doesn’t press the issue. I resist the urge to look back at my phone. He’s probably sent me, like, 51 texts by now. But, I don’t care. I’m not going to let him ruin another night.
Sophia orders us both whiskey sours, though I’m not even finished with my first drink. We talk about what's going on in our lives but I make sure to avoid mentioning Art. And she doesn’t ask. She’s never made an effort to mask her disdain for him. As we talk, a guy approaches us and orders us more drinks. We let him join our conversation. Little by little, I drink the second whiskey sour he got me and my anxiety over Art intensifies. I succumb to the temptation to look at the cracked screen of my phone.
“That's it. I'm done!” This message has appeared on my screen so many times before that now it’s lost its impact.
“Look. I told you I was going to hang out with Sophie tonight. Deal with it,” I reply. I’m sick of his shit. I slam my glass on the counter, grab Sophia, and head to the dance floor. The hours fly by as we dance the night away amongst dozens of sweaty bodies. When the crowd dies down, Sophia suggests we check out this new club that’s got great Yelp reviews. I check the time on my phone and see Art hasn’t texted me back, which worries me.
“I'm sorry, Sophie. Do you mind if we stop by Art’s place first?”
“Do I have a choice?” She crosses her arms.
“Please. It'll just be a minute.” I give her a pleading smile. A beat later, she lets out a long sigh of exasperation.
“All right. I guess.”
I stagger to the car, which prompts her to take my keys so she can drive. On the way to Art’s apartment, she asks questions I don't want to answer. Like what do I see in him and do I see us getting married. I ignore them and urge her to drive faster. Once we arrive, I practically jump out the car and scurry to the door. She waits in the car. He doesn't answer when I knock, but, thankfully, I have his spare key.
My anxiety spikes when I open the door and don’t see him playing Xbox in the living room. I call out his name. “Art?” No response. My heart stops when I find him in the closet. My mind slowly processes the image of his limp body hanging by a belt from the ceiling. Oh my god! I can't breathe. I feel weak. Everything fades to black.