My girlfriend called me late at night. She screamed into my ear.
‘It’s an emergency! Get over here!’
And then hung up.
I didn’t know what to think. It was three in the morning. My senses weren’t in the best shape. So I did what anyone in my place would do. I shut my eyes and went back to sleep.
Three hours later, wide awake and more alert, I remember her call and my heart jumps into my mouth.
Was it really her? Or a bad dream?
I dial her number to find out. But she doesn’t answer. The ring goes on and on. Where in the hell is she at six in the morning?
Asleep? Or maybe dead?
Nervous laughter doesn’t suit me. I sound like a squealing pig. My hands jump up, covering my mouth, muffling the hideous sound.
Shirt, pants, shoes. I’m dressed and out the door.
The idiot inside me tells me to turn back. Thank goodness he has little say in my important decisions.
This bothers my girlfriend too. She calls me stupid and insensitive when my inner idiot tries to invade our conversations. I keep him on a tight leash. It’s the only way I can salvage any type of human relation.
Her apartment is a ten-minute drive from my place. I cruise well below the speed limit. Anxiety and speeding aren’t a reliable pair. I make it there in seventeen minutes.
I try calling her again, but her phone keeps ringing. I finally get out of the car. She lives on the third floor. I take the stairs, skipping two at a time. The hallway is cool and dark.
The doorbell doesn’t end my dilemma.
I turn the knob. The door just opens. Why isn’t it locked?
It’s too dark to see anything. Where’s a window when you need one?
I hear a soft click and then there’s light everywhere.
There are balloons, cake, and a table laid out with food and drink. My girlfriend is standing with a giftwrapped box in her hand. She’s too quick for me.
The gift hits me right between the eyes. I fall back. It’s almost dark again.
Her voice drifts somewhere above me.
‘Happy Birthday, you stupid idiot! What took you so long?!’
The idiot in me tries to answer. But I bite my tongue. I’ll just lie here till things settle down again.
He can’t stop making mistakes. She won’t listen quietly anymore. For Better or For Worse takes an ugly turn.