Earlier that Month
I was biking home from a concert when I received a text. It was from Rowan; she'd sent a picture. I decided to wait until I got back to my apartment to read it. Biking through the night and listening to music was exhilarating, if a little bit dangerous. Adding texting to the mix was too risky for my liking. I arrived at my apartment right as the song I was listening to ended. I loved it when that happened: Perfect synchronization. I ran up the stairs, eager to crash after standing for so many hours. After collapsing on the bed, I remembered Rowan's text and took a look at it.
It was a picture of Edward… with a new girlfriend.
"Why me?" Read the text underneath.
"Oh my gosh, Rowan!" I said aloud, typing a response as fast as I could.
"Oh my gosh, please block him Rowan! It's not fair for you to see that. I'm so sorry you're going through this. Do you need to talk?"
I waited several minutes, but no response came. I grew worried. I didn't want to wait around while my best friend was hurting.
"I'm calling you."
I tapped her name, and the phone began ringing. She picked up after a few rings. All I could hear was sobbing.
"H-Hey," Rowan said in a weak voice, "I'm sorry I didn't answer… I-I just got home, and I d-don't know what - Ugh! This fucking s-sucks."
It had been a long time since I'd listened to someone cry over the phone. I didn't know what to say. I wanted to hug her.
"I know how it feels," I murmured.
"It's just s-stupid that he came into my life a-and did this! P-people shouldn't be able to do this."
"But they can and do," I said grimly. "I'm sorry… I know it's not fair. But there's nothing that can be done except try to move on. I'm always here for you, Rowan."
She sighed, "Ugh, I'm sorry you have to hear me like this."
"Don't be! I know you would do the same for me. I love you, Row."
There was sniffling and heavy breathing on the other side of the phone. She let out a big sigh, trying to regain her composure.
"I love you too, Tim. Thank you so much."
There was some movement on her end of the phone.
"I'm gonna go now, cuz I need to take a shower and eat. But thank you for calling, it does mean a lot. I'll deal with this in my own way, but your support means a lot to me."
I nodded and smiled, "Like I said, any time. I don't care how bad you're crying."
She mustered a small laugh, "Thanks. Bye, Tim."
The phone clicked, and I was left thinking about her. Some guilt crept into my heart when I realized I was partially glad that she was having a similar experience to me. Edward lived in New York, and he and Rowan had developed a romance over the summer. When Rowan came back to school, he was all she talked about. She wanted nothing more than to go back to New York and see him again. I warned her early on about the perils of distance, but this was her first "head-first-into-the-ground" romance. She fell hard for him, so it was easy for her to dismiss mine and other friends' warnings. She learned the hard way, like I did.
At least she knows where she's going to be next year. I still have no idea. I don't want to go to grad school, but I don't want to go home either, and I don't have any connections to reach out to in the other cities...
My thoughts trailed on this way, swaying between the future, my career, Rowan, Edward, and… Ashley. My ever-inescapeable mistress. The shadow I sleep under. And slowly, surely, with her in my mind, I fell asleep.