Privacy | Georgia Papp


Privacy

Georgia Papp

2018: Major Comp: Hate and Coat Award


M. walked out of the building into the chilly morning. The sky was gray and hanging heavily just this side of rain. It was still early but Jane had already left for work. She had taken her red coat, which he hadn’t seen on her in a while, not since last spring maybe. Not since the fight.

Jane and M. had never really moved in together, although M. had wanted to. They spent most of their nights together anyway, and their belongings were divided between the two places. Not to mention he was always lugging stuff back and forth and she was always complaining about missing some essential item or other. Sometimes when Jane was really mad and they were at his place she would start packing her things and threaten to leave.

That had happened last spring, when things had gotten really bad.

M. didn’t want to think about that anymore because it made him spiral out of control. Everything was fine now, Jane had moved her stuff back in and they were acting like nothing happened.

He had to get to work. He tried getting in early so he would have most of the afternoon left to finish his paper, as M. was finishing his studies and needed to complete his final project. The paper was trudging along. His presentation was tomorrow and he still had forty pages to go.

The hours leading up to lunch flew by irritatingly fast. Work was better than writing his paper. Anything was.

Jane called around noon.

“Hey,” she said, sounding cheerful. He had a bad feeling. She only sounded cheerful when she wanted to cover up for something. The rest of her cheer was usually saved up for other people, not him.

“I was just calling to let you know, I think you should sleep at your place tonight.” She said it all in one breath.

He felt light headed. This again? He tried arguing but she insisted she would just distract him from work but he knew she wasn’t being honest. He remembered the messages again. Remembered reading what she had written to that guy and he started feeling sick.

M. got back to his apartment and turned on the computer. He had another coffee, his fourth but he needed it. Averaging three hours of sleep per night for a week didn’t go well together with concentration.

He sat down and tried writing a bit but just ended up smashing his fingers into the keys and making one typo after another. Finally he just slammed his laptop shut and went to buy smokes.

He remembered the last times he had bought cigarettes. It was after reading those damn messages.

Jane had been out of town for a few days and she had left her Facebook logged in on his laptop. M. tried fighting his suspicions at first but he kept obsessing over why she’d been wanting to spend so many nights alone. He couldn’t stand it anymore, so he just went to her page and read everything she and her new friend had written to each other. He called her princess. She said he was sweet.

Remembering the rest made him dizzy so he tried to stop and focus on his cigarette instead. But it tasted dry and gross and it was making his stomach burn. Or maybe that was the coffee.

Once his stomach had settled down he tried coming back to his paper, but it was no good. He had barely made it to page five and it was eight o’clock. M. decided to call Jane.

“What is it?”

No cheerful “Hey” this time.

“I wanna come over and see you, Jane. I need to talk to you.”

“You need to write your damn paper you’ve been putting off for forever. Don’t make this my fault. You’re so fucking lazy.”

“I can’t talk about this on the phone, I’m coming over.”

“Don’t M., I don’t want to see you.”

“Why not? Where are you? You’re not at home are you?”

Silence.

“Jane? Where are you?”

“I’m out, ok? Just went out for a beer.”

“Jesus, Jane, who are you with?”

“Just the guys. I’ll see you tomorrow, ok?”

“Jane, where are you? I’m coming to see you right now. I don’t care what you say.”

She hung up.

M. tracked the location of her phone and headed straight out the door.

It was the messages all over again only now it wasn’t online. She was probably there with him right now. He had been so stupid to trust her again.

Jane’s face went pale when she saw him by the door. One of the guys at the table had his arm around her shoulders. She shot up and went straight for the door and M. followed.

“What the fuck do you want?”

She had put on her red coat which looked so good on her. She had wanted to be someone’s “princess” again. Why was he never good enough?

M. began pacing left and right. His eyes burned, his arms flailed about pointlessly and his voice came out hoarse and high pitched.

“Why are you doing this again? Why now? “

“Doing what? Going out for a beer? Why do you have to be like this?”

“Be like what? In love with you?”

“God what the fuck does that have to do with anything? I can’t fucking stand you sometimes.”

“Good thing you could stand that other guy’s arm around you.”

Pause.

“I fucking hate you.”

As soon as the words hit him he felt the anger slip away. He began to think that that red coat of hers would be matched well by a red shade in her cheeks. A shade they might have with his hands around her throat, as he pushed her back into the wall. The red would bring out her burning eyes as they searched his pleadingly. Her trusting eyes. She could always trust him.