No Strings Attached
3 weeks later
I remember that next morning after The Incident (Yes – I named the situation so that I would not have to speak of his name), I had been so reluctant to go to Cottage for breakfast. The last thing I had wanted to do was see Eric. The situation would have been so awkward I wouldn’t even know where to look let alone what to say. But I decided, I could not do this for the rest of the year. Though he was a senior, this was the middle of the Spring Semester. I couldn’t keep avoiding him – not to mention the kind of money I was forking out to have my meals at Cottage. And I also really loved the food as well as the people (minus Voldemort – I named him that because he was after all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).
So I had dragged my ass out back to The Street to go have breakfast. My stomach had growled for yogurt and the amazing granola that Cottage had, so I had to, as Tommy liked to say, suck it up. I remember there weren’t that many people there that day, but Alana, who indeed turned out to be a good friend and hilarious dining buddy, was drinking her orange juice and eating her oatmeal. I had kept my eyes firmly on the ground and did not look around. But Voldemort didn’t turn up all morning, so I had been able to relax a little, and enjoy my yogurt.
You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you I didn’t see Eric around much, but it appeared that the angels were shining down on me, and Lady Luck was on my side, because over the course of the 3 weeks after The Incident, I only saw Voldemort at the mandatory Cottage meetings (which were totally easy to avoid eye contact because there were so many people crowded around all the time that you just had to sit at the back to not be seen) and during some dinner times. It had not escaped my notice that Voldemort was persistently avoiding me more than I was avoiding him, because he had changed his dinner schedule. We used to come in at around 7pm for dinner, but recently when I would come in with Alana for dinner, I would either not see him the entire time, or just manage to see him sneak out at around 7:05pm. Well, kudos to him for at least having the decency to cater to me. Not that I had forgiven him.
So when I walked in at 7pm today to meet Alana and a few other sophomores we knew in a Calculus class for dinner as usual, it was really weird that Eric was still getting his food. My first thought was, “Oh no!” But my second thought immediately followed with a “Oh no, he didn’t!”I had just about erased him from the forefront of my memory, so it caught me off guard to see him having dinner at the same time as me. I tried to hide for a bit, and I believe I was quite successful. I managed to get a cheese quesadilla and some fries for myself, and was eating quietly next to a friend called Reed, who was telling us how wasted he got with his girlfriend over the weekend. People tended to take my silence as interest or approval, so they liked to indulge themselves by telling me too much information. Not that I was eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help sneaking looks at Voldemort, who was talking (or more like listening) to a small girl with bouncy curly hair and the booty of Kim Kardashian. She was wearing a Juicy velour sweater over a deep V camisole which displayed her assets in a very admirable well. I was surprised Voldemort wasn’t trying harder to tap that – I mean, while she didn’t look his type, she was still pretty hot.
NO. Not cute.
He began talking. “I know I’ve been avoiding you all these weeks, but I’m sorry. I couldn’t face you. Not after what happened...” he trailed off, but I stayed silent. I didn’t know what to say. “But I wanted to apologize to you, and let you know that I was just trying to help my brother. He was... he was having problems. He was getting very stressed about his college apps, and I wanted to just make him feel better. I wanted to find out if he had gotten into Princeton or not.” He rubbed his hands together and sighed one of the saddest sighs I have ever heard.
“I know it was wrong. I didn’t want to do it, but I felt like I had to. And you came along and I thought it was a sign I should find out for Alan. “ I remained silent and kept watching him. “I am so ashamed of myself. I couldn’t even look at you without wanting to leave the room. I’m so sorry,” he apologized.
“Oh.” I said. I know, so succinct. “You lied to me, Eric.” I gasped inwardly. First time I had said his name in 3 weeks.
“I know. I wish I could turn back time, because I want to. I wouldn’t have ruined our friendship.” He ran his hand over his hair in such a stressed out way, but still managed to look incredibly attractive. Like Brad Pitt when he finds out Angelina Jolie is a spy too, in Mr and Mrs Smith. “But I wanted to tell you that my brother chose not to go to Princeton. They waitlisted him, but he’s decided to drop it and just enrol at Penn. He said he never wanted to become a politician or a biologist like my parents wanted. He’s going to Wharton to do finance. Go figure.” He shook his head. “I just...it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. I was just more nervous than he was, I guess.” He sighed and looked at me remorsefully. I know sorry isn’t enough, but it’s all I could think of. I hope you’ll forgive me one day.”
And before I could say anything, he walked over to me and reached out his hand, as if he was about to brush my hair away from my face. It was a surprisingly romantic gesture, but I stood firmly on my ground. I could forgive him, but I could not forget. He pulled back and smiled sadly. He said, “Goodbye Priscilla. I hope you find the love and integrity that Cottage epitomizes, which I took for granted.” With that, he looked at me one more time and walked out of the room. I could pretend like my life was a movie and that he left Princeton in such remorse, never to be seen again. But of course, my life was more real than reality TV, so I still saw Eric (I stopped calling him Voldemort – I just didn’t have the heart anymore) here and there, but we never spoke again.
Finals were dawning upon us anyway (about 1 month away), and the weather was getting a little warmer. I really wanted to visit my friend down at Penn for Spring Fling, which she claimed was the best time of the year to visit her in Philly. Apparently it was a weekend of booze, beats and boys. So why the hell not?
Not that I was interested in seeing other guys. I realized I was starting to feel nervous around Tommy, and begun caring about how my hair and makeup looked around him. It was really annoying, because this added another unnecessary yet interesting aspect into my life. He started to change a little around me too. Sometimes I caught him looking at me a little longer than he should, and begun greeting me with a kiss on the cheek – something so preppy and formal that it was very un-Tommy. I don’t think either of us wanted to jeopardize our friendship yet, so we’ll see how long we can hold off.
Maybe a weekend at Penn is just what I need. Maybe The City of Brotherly Love can teach me a little bit about its namesake.