Sometimes I don’t realize just how far I’ve come. It’s hard to remember the days when I was so trained in my reactions that I felt like everyone else. I was disgusted by the villain, yet enthralled by the hero. When those feelings died, when the reasoning behind them ceased to be something solid and true, it was like seeing the world through a haze. Nothing was clear anymore, everything was blurred about the edges, undefined. Waiting for me to make the choices, the conclusions, that would bring things once again into focus. But even now, a lifetime it seems, later, my world is almost as clouded as it was then. I’ve discovered that some things need not be defined, or do not even have straight, easy answers. Black and white hardly exists, if at all.
I went to a party. I parked my car several houses away and walked down the road. Normally, even just two years ago, such a gathering would make me sick to my stomach. I would have been nauseous for an hour beforehand, and most of the time I was there. But now…now there’s nothing. I realize there are a lot more people than I suspected. My friend sees me, and calls my name loudly through the crowd. People turn to stare, so I focus on her face and nothing more, until somehow I’m standing beside her chair.
I even talked, and was not bothered by it. It wasn’t enjoyable, but it was far better than feeling completely ill-at-ease. When I grew bored of the conversation, I would stand and walk elsewhere, surprised to find people seeking me out. When I grew irritated, I retreated to one of the houses with a girl I barely know, and spent time watching the chickens. I show back up at the party an hour later, where my disgruntled friend asks me where I went. I shrug and mutter something about the animals, uncaring of her disposition. She’s possessive, and I can tell she doesn’t like it when one of the men put his arm around me. It makes me uncomfortable, but I say nothing, deciding that the look on her face is far more interesting than my aversion to physical contact.
I don’t say anything when the man she wants to fuck shows up. He’s not even a man to me, a boy, maybe, a year younger than me and stupid. He makes some joke about how short I am, as he towers over me, and I have to refrain from telling him that I’ve seen him naked and he should shut the fuck up. Instead I coldly inform him that I am ‘tall enough’, and walk away. He can never seem to decipher hatred from like anyways. Lucky me.
We leave and go back to the house, where an old friend shows up. I’m surprised when my friend pushes her away, something that is entirely uncharacteristic of her. She generally bends to this woman’s every whim, despite being very ‘in charge’ herself. Instead I end up being one of the trio that goes to the cabin, and this old friend gets left behind. I can see the anger in her face.
We spend a few hours in the woods. I contemplate whether or not it’s a bad thing that before the party my friend was telling me through text that she’s going to fuck this guy, and that I am simultaneously texting her husband, pretending like there’s nothing up. I’m even able to look him in the face without any sense of guilt, and I am surprised at myself. I’ve been friends with him far longer than her, but I too have grown insensitive towards him, tired of his constant moodiness.
I tell her to do it when she says she needs my consent. I tell her if the pleasure will outweigh the guilt, then there is nothing to think about.
She’s meeting him tomorrow. And I’m not sure if it’s funny that I’ve spent so much time whittling away at her so-called ‘good conscience’. Wasn’t I doing it even last year, like the devil on her left shoulder? Should I feel wicked?
But the answer comes to me.
If the pleasure outweighs the guilt….