This series happens once a week. In order to understand what’s going on in the series, be sure to read the column, in order.
Last week, I left you up in the air. Literally. Christopher and I were floating around in the Virginia sky, in a hot air balloon. We decided to leave his mother’s comments amongst the clouds and when we came down, I couldn’t help but feel like I was still afloat.
We spent the rest of the evening driving back to Maryland looking up times for films. I held his hand while he drove and used the other to scroll through Fandango. I finally found one I wanted to see.
“It starts at ten. It’s 9pm now. Maybe we can walk around the area, until it starts?”
Chris looked uneasy, “Erica, that’s kind of late.”
Late? Was he serious? I tried to come up with a reason for why this wasn’t an appropriate hour to catch a film. Did he have to work tomorrow? No, tomorrow was Sunday. Was he tired? No. He’d napped all day, before we hung out. I stopped trying to guess and I asked.
“Why is that too late?”
Chris pulled over, on the highway, the moment I asked. This was quite dramatic and I feared his response, “It just is. I don’t want any issues with my parents.”
“Why would your parents have an issue with that? You’re twenty-six years old.”
“My parents have a curfew for my sister and I. As long as we live in their house we’ve got to play by their rules.”
“Wow. Your father was serious, when he said to be home by 11pm.”
“I’m afraid that he was.”
I turned to face him, I’d been looking out of the window trying to avoid him seeing how frustrated I was, “What kind of grown man has a curfew?”
“One with really overprotective parents. I’m grown, but I still live at home. My family is different, we do everything together. My sister and I would rather have a warm safe place to be, rather than fend for ourselves.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. Chris had a great job, he had a salary and benefits, he owned a car, and even owned a home that he rented out, but he decided to stay home. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had a check-in time.
“Just take me back to my hotel.”
“Erica, don’t be mad. I have to respect…”
“Just take me back…”
“Fine. We’ll see the ten o’ clock movie. I promise it’ll all make sense soon.”
I rolled my eyes and looked back out of the window and he pulled back onto the highway.
Edwin and I were laying on the couch. We’d just finished watching Chef (great movie, it’s on Netflix now) and we were scrolling through the Sur La Table website, on his iPad, to find a cooking class we could take together. We were both into the culinary arts and we’d been toying with the idea. (Peep #rivcooks on Instagram, don’t sleep lol.)
He scrolled through the stores’ locations and tried to pick one that was close by.
“I think the one in midtown is best.”
I looked at the address on the screen and pushed myself up on the couch, “Let’s go out to the one in Long Island.”
“Why? That’s so far.”
I smiled uneasily, “I like that one. It’s nice.”
“They’re all pretty much the same, Erica. Tell me the reason you don’t want to go.”
He touched my face, as he spoke, and I was complete mush. I confessed, “Marsha works in that area and we’re going on a week day…”
Edwin pulled himself up from his comfortable position, too, and looked at me confoundedly, “Are we still talking about this? I thought after your birthday you were done with her.”
“My friends were right about some things, but they’re not there all the time. They don’t know the good things about her.”
He wasn’t convinced, “Like what?”
“She comes out and eats dinner with me after rough work days, we drink wine and just laugh and talk, she’s cool people.”
“That sounds like someone who knows your fridge is always full and your wine collection is stocked. Doesn’t sound like friendship to me.”
I hit him playfully with a pillow, “Stop it. You know what I mean.”
“I don’t know what you mean and I’m not going to tip-toe around your friend. You need to just come clean with her.”
“I have, she didn’t take it well. What else do I do?” (Lawd, as I’m writing this…I’m disgusted with myself.)
Edwin sighed, “I can’t take this anymore.”
He pulled his phone, from his pocket, opened his text messages and started to scroll through them.
“What are you doing?”
He lifted his pointer finger, prompting me to give him a few more minutes. He finally found what he was looking for and handed me the phone.
“Here it is. It’s from a night, about a year ago.”
I immediately knew what night he was referring to. It was the night we’d all met at the dating event, the night Marsha forgot to tell me that she was interested in him. They’d been exchanging text messages that night.
Edwin: Who’s your friend?
Marsha: Who, Erica? We used to work together. I’m showing her around town. She’s young and naive. I’m playing big sister.
(I held my tongue, knowing I’d done far more for her than she could’ve ever done for me. This was my city, I’d brought her here. The nerve.)
Edwin: I see you, big sis. She’s cute though. What’s her deal?
Marsha: She’s a writer and a teacher.
Edwin: Sounds good to me. Introduce me.
Marsha: Do you even have time for this, Mr. Busy?
Edwin: I’ll make time.
Marsha: Wow. Well, I don’t know if she has time for this.
(One second I’m naive little sis, the next I’ve got a packed schedule. Ugh.)
Edwin: Let her decide that.
Marsha: I didn’t know you were into big girls.
Edwin: WOW. Didn’t you say this was like your sister? What kind of comment was that?
Marsha didn’t respond. The next text was flyer for a party, months later, that she’d asked him to go to. I looked up from the texts, I was livid.
“She really said that about me?”
Edwin put away his phone, “I didn’t want to taint your friendship, but I thought you should know. She doesn’t mean well and I think it’s time you see the truth.”