i carried your weight, the misplaced rage and the burden of hate.
You are: twenty. Your twentieth birthday was absolute shit. You went to dinner with him, and some of your friends, and Dom and some of Dom's friends from the New School. It was fine for a half hour. They couldn't manage it any longer than that.

Somehow, he makes a point to say you aren't the brightest.

You had to: laugh it off. You're used to it already, resigned to the fact that you don't know how to express that you're unhappy without sounding like a humorless bitch. You don't know what to tell your friends because it sounds so trivial in your head every time you try to. He's just kind of mean to me. He doesn't hit me or anything, he's just kind of a jerk. He confessed to you once that regardless of what he went to school for, he wants to be a stand-up comedian. You're so brave, he told you once, for going into a career that's so hard to make it in. You suppose he's just practicing acerbic humor.

Dom stared at you, waiting for you to defend yourself. When you didn't, he said, Don't fucking talk about my sister like that. You are not grateful for the intervention. Your boyfriend says a lot of things that amount to lighten up, take a joke. Your brother says a lot of smarmy things about what a worthless motherfucker he is, and you find it all so exhausting that you slip outside for a smoke. Dom doesn't let up for a second, follows you out to yell at you for being spineless. You have a screaming match in the street. You hope the people eavesdropping, swiveling their heads to look at you both as the go by, are entertained.

Dom is: hurt that you picked your boyfriend's side over his. You can see it in his expression when he finally snaps that you should tell his friends that he lost his appetite. You've never taken anyone's side over his before. You don't talk for two weeks, and then only negotiate peace because you're forced to go to Thanksgiving with the rest of your family.

What happens is: You wish it took taking some guy's side over your family to make you wake up. You are going to be ashamed of that forever. Instead, you walk in on them -- boyfriend and best friend -- having sex at the first party of the spring semester, the party you brought him to as your date. You have known, of course, for the past eight months, not just from the excuses, but from what your mutual friends say. How they look at you. But you've never had concrete proof. As long as you never saw it, you could pretend that it was just hearsay and your own insecurities. That was a system you were fine with -- you weren't going to fuck it up by looking for evidence.

You say, Don't let me interrupt.

You leave the party to swill cheap vodka, right from the bottle, in the passenger seat of a friend's car, alone, listening to the entirety of Back to Black. Amy gets it.

In the cold light of day when you end things, he cycles through every tactic imagineable. Repentant, because he fucked up, and he's sorry. He swears that it happened only twice, the year before and just the other night. He tells you that all the times you suspected, you just didn't trust him. Of course you drove him away, if you weren't going to trust him.

I love you, he promises. He needs you to believe him.

I don't. I don't believe you. I don't love you.

He gets angry then. Says you're a fucking bitch. No one is ever going to love you like I do.

Good, you answer, past the lump in your throat.