With two sisters, you’d think I’d be better at dealing with girls than I am. Instead, I can’t seem to catch a break.
“No Martina, I can’t come over today. I have a huge test in chemistry tomorrow. I also promised my sisters that I would work out with them…no, you are important to me, but so is chemistry…yes, I have been studying a lot….no, I don’t feel ready. Chem is hard!…Ok. Ok. Alright, fine.”
I sighed as I put my phone back in my pocket.
“What does she want now,” my sister Rhea asked.
“She wanted me to come over and hang out with her. Her parents are gone and Omar and Chantelle are going out to the Bistro and won’t be home.”
“That’s a recipe for disaster,” Juno frowned as she did a side bend. “I’m glad you told her no.”
“Well, sort of.”
“You didn’t tell her no?”
“Kinda. She’ll be over in about an hour to help me study for Chem. Sorry I won’t be able to work out. She hates it when I sweat too much.”
I have to give Martina some credit. Without her, I don’t think I would have done as well in school. “I don’t get this,” I said to her as we were doing math homework.
“’A unicorn crosses the road at a 5 miles per hour and a person crosses the road from the opposite side at 1 mile per hour…at what point will they meet in the middle if the road is 35 feet across?’ What sort of dumbass question is that?”
“Watch your language Ares! And don’t worry about the silly question. Just do the math. Focus on the numbers, not the words.”
“But I don’t understand what the numbers mean! Unicorns aren’t real. This stupid math isn’t real either! Abstract fucking math! I hate it.” Martin looked at me sternly.
“Sorry,” I said, wishing for the thousandth time that she would just get over the fact that I cuss occasionally. That’s what guys do, I had told her. We are disgusting creatures who fart and cuss and brag about stuff we never do. And we don’t ask for directions either.
She didn’t find my argument at all amusing. I thought I was hilarious, but I forced myself to curb my language as much as I was capable.
Everyone asked me why I was dating Martina Collins. Truth is, I really had no choice in the matter. We had classes together and she always seemed to be my partner and then she asked me to prom and then suddenly we were boyfriend and girlfriend.
“I just don’t see what you see in her,” my best friend Emilee Hamada said for like the thousandth time. “She’s not nice to you. She is always jealous. And she won’t let you do anything that she doesn’t want to do.”
“She’s nice to me,” I argued. “And we do lots of things I want to do.”
I thought about it. “I get to hang out with you.”
“Ha! Does she even know that I’m here right now? You said she had her drama club today.”
“She does. But that doesn’t mean anything. Martina likes you. She’d be fine with us hanging together.”
Truth is Martina would NOT be fine with Emilee hanging out with me. The two girls were friends. We had all gone to elementary together, but now the two of them only associated with each other if I was around.
Even when we were together, though, Martina made sure that I didn’t spend too much time with Emilee.
“We should see if Emilee wants to dance, too,” I mentioned to Martina when the three of us were hanging out during one of the parties my sisters had thrown. “We can all dance together.”
“But a slow song just started and I wanted to slow dance just the two of us,” Martina said. At the time, I thought it was perfectly innocent, but as time went on, Martina always seemed to come between me and Emilee even though I told her that Emilee and I were just friends.
Like at my sister Rhea’s birthday party. Emilee got there a little late. I just gave her an innocent hug and Martina flipped out!
“I’m your girlfriend!” Martina hissed as she pulled me out of the room. “Me. Not that slut, Emilee Hamada!”
“Emilee’s not a slut,” I said, not the wisest thing to say to a jealous woman.
“Yes she is! She came waltzing in here and put her arms all around you like a boa constrictor! And you just let her!”
“I did not! Ok, I did, but Emilee’s my friend!”
“Well, I don’t like her. I don’t want you to see her anymore.”
“That’s not fair. I’m her friend. It would be mean if I just snubbed her for no good reason.”
“She’s a dirty slut. That’s reason enough!”
That night over IM, I told Emilee how jealous Martina was of her. I said that I’d be keeping my distance but that we could still be friends.
“It’s not that I don’t like you, Em,” I typed, “but Martina is my girlfriend and I have to respect her wishes.”
“That’s stupid Ares! If she really liked you then she wouldn’t care who your friends are.”
“Me, too. I’m really sorry. I’m sorry that you’re too cowardly to break up with that girl. How dare she tell you who you can and cannot speak to!”
“She’s just insecure.”
“So what! And you know what, I don’t need your friendship either. If you can’t stand up for it, I don’t want it.”
“Emilee. Don’t be like that.”
“Good night Ares. I suppose I’ll see you around. Good luck with your stupid bitch girlfriend.”
Emilee signed off of her account and I just stared at the screen.
So why didn’t I break up with Martina? Well this is why. Every time I tried to broach the subject with her she’d kiss me. And her kisses…well let’s just say that they made my brain shrink and my…well, you get the picture.
Martina knew just how to distract me and she wasn’t the least be shy or reticent.
And she could be a lot of fun, too. I mean, it wasn’t all bad being her boyfriend. It’s nice, you know, when you have someone who is utterly into you. Someone who practically worships you.
The problem was that even since I took Martina to my sister Juno’s wedding in the park, Martina decided that it wasn’t enough for us to be just boyfriend and girlfriend.
I’d taken her to the movies and stepped away to buy some popcorn. I came back and she was talking to Chloe McBride.
“It’s just a few months before graduation,” Martina said to her friend. “I’m just sure that Ares will ask me to marry him soon. We’ll get engaged and then get married right away!”
The fuck?! I remember thinking to myself.
I knew what Martina wanted, and I knew that I didn’t want it. I knew that I needed to break up with her before we graduated or I might never get the chance. If I didn’t say something she’d have me waiting for her at the end of some pink carpeted aisle and I’d stupidly open my mouth and say, “I do.”
Here’s the problem. Martina was too hot to break up with. Yes. That was the problem. She batted her eyes. She kissed my neck. She took my stupid clothes off. After that I forgot my own name let alone that I really didn’t like her all that much.
“Hey Em!” I was so excited to see her again, and I was absolutely thrilled that she had agreed to come over to my house when I took a risk and called her earlier.
“I’m glad you came over,” I said.
“What was the big emergency?” Emilee asked me. “I thought I was banned from your house by your stupid girlfriend.”
“You weren’t banned,” I said, shuffling my feet and rubbing my neck. “And there really isn’t an emergency. Not really.”
“Well then why did you call?”
“Do you want to come in?”
“Not really. Just talk to me Ares.”
“Fine. It’s Martina. I need to break up with her.”
“I need your help.”
“Ha!” Emilee snorted. “Look Ares. You told me that our friendship was not as important as your relationship with her. Now you want my help ending that relationship?”
“I never said that!”
“No, but you implied it. And it really pissed me off! I’m not your best friend anymore, Ares. You’ll just have to man up and break up with the bitch on your own.” With that Emilee turned back to her car and drove away. I didn’t know what I was going to do after that.
In the end, I didn’t break up with her. Nope. I totally chickened out. Instead I hoped that maybe after graduation we’d just sort of grow apart. That would work, right?
When I blew my candles out on my birthday, I wished that Martina would find someone else she liked better than me. I wished that she’d tell me we were through and that I was a terrible boyfriend. Barring all of that, I wished that I could get some sort of suave trait that would allow me to tell her how I really felt in sort of a Humphrey Bogart kind of way that would let her down but not have her go totally ballistic on me.
I did NOT get my wish.
“Look, Martina,” I said, “I promise you that I was not on the beach today.”
“But I saw you!”
“You didn’t. Today was my day off. I spent it fixing my mom’s dishwasher. My dad can’t do it anymore. His knees bother him too much.”
“It could have been you! How do I know what you do when you’re out there on the beach with all of those sluts in tiny bikinis!”
“There are no sluts in tiny bikinis!”
“There better not be!”
It didn’t matter what I did or where we went, Martina was becoming more and more jealous. For example, I had taken her over the Field’s Resort and was getting us both a drink at the bar before we sat down to eat. I was just chatting with Masie, one of my mom’s employees, when Martina came up and pulled me away.
“I don’t want a drink,” she said. I knew by the tone of her voice that I was in trouble.
“What was all of that about?” Martina demanded once we had been seated and our appetizers arrived.
“That…woman?! What was that all about? She was totally flirting with you!”
“That’s just Masie,” I said. “She works here. She flirts with everyone.”
“She’s a slut.”
“No. It gets her better tips! And she works for my mom, so that was exactly nothing.”
“It didn’t look like nothing to me!”
“Let’s just eat, ok?” I sighed. I wished that I was anywhere but there with Martina. I could be out on the ocean sailing. I could be diving or snorkeling. It was always calm in the water.
Later:“We need to talk, Martina.”
“I don’t want to talk, Baby,” she whispered. She looked at me with her lovely lavender eyes and smiled in a way that I was all to familiar with.
“But…” I tried to protest, but with Martina, there is no protesting.
That was the first night that Martina had ever stayed over. When I woke up, I groaned, seeing the rumpled sheets where she had been. I knew that this was not going to go over well with my parents. Mom really made no secret about how she felt about Martina.
“Maybe she snuck out early,” I muttered to myself. But I knew better than that.
Later that day, Martina and I were having another heated discussion about the fact that I was not on the beach making out with some other girl. Mom passed me in the hall and then had a talk with me.
“Look Ares. About Martina. I don’t think it’s a good idea that she stay the night here. I know you guys are adults, but I’m just not comfortable with you sleeping with her under my roof. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t want you doing that here.”
I blushed. “Sorry mom. She wasn’t supposed to…I mean, she wasn’t going to stay…”
“It’s ok,” mom said; she was blushing like mad and I could feel my face heating up. “I just wanted you to know how I felt.”
“Thanks mom.” She squeezed my shoulder and went downstairs.
I headed to the shower. I needed to think.
The shower didn’t help much, so I headed into town to clear my head. I went fishing and then had a swim. Finally, I stopped by the grocery store and bought a few supplies. Then I called Martina.
“Can you come over tonight?” I asked. “We need to talk. I thought I’d make you dinner.”
Martina came over wearing sweats, which I thought was strange since I knew she hated to run or work out. I also knew that she always tried to dress attractively, so I figured she knew that something was up.
As usual, Mom’s cat Moonie took one look at Martina and hissed. That cat hated her almost as much as Mom did.
“Sorry, sorry,” I apologized, picking Moonie up. “I forgot to put him in Mom’s room before you got here.” I took the cat upstairs and told him to behave.
When I came back downstairs Martina confirmed my suspicions that she knew exactly why I had invited her over. My parents, who were supposed to head out to the resort or bakery or somewhere so that Martina and I could be alone, were stuck in the kitchen when she confronted me.
“Look, Ares. I know you want to break up with me. I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to be so jealous. I trust you. I love you. You can’t do this! We’re perfect for each other.”
I could tell that my parents wanted to be anywhere but there with us in the house, but I was actually comforted by their presence. Martina was so selfish that she aired all of our problems in front of them. I looked at my mom and took courage from her frown of annoyance.
“We aren’t perfect for each other Martina,” I said. “If we were, you wouldn’t be so jealous. I can’t do this anymore. I feel like I’m walking on egg shells around you all the time now. It’s not what love is supposed to feel like.”
“Love! Love! What do you know about love? I gave you everything and you gave me nothing! You never loved me!”
“Hey, calm down!” I said, looking at mom and dad, hoping they thought this was as crazy as I did. “That’s not fair Martina. I did love you, but I can’t do it anymore. I think we have to accept that this is over.”
“I don’t have to accept anything!” She screamed at me. Then she ran for the door.
“Martina!” I called after her, but I didn’t make a move to follow like I once might have.
“Well that went well,” I muttered once the door had closed and we heard the squeal of Martina’s tires as she pulled out of our drive.
“It was for the best,” Mom said. “She’ll get over it.”
“I hope so.”
I was right. Martina didn’t get over it as easily as Mom hoped. She started stalking me at work. No matter what I did to get her to leave me alone, she kept showing up.
“You have to stop doing this Martina! We are not going out anymore.”
“But we should be. I love you!”
“No you don’t. It’s over. I need you to stop coming here. This is my job!”
“It’s a public beach.”
“It’s my work place. And you are not here to hang out at the beach.”
“Would you talk to me if I had a bikini on?”
“No. You need to go home.”
“But we need to talk! We need to work things out. We’re meant to be together!”
When I finally insisted that Martina leave or I would call the cops, she started crying hysterically, but she did finally leave. I didn’t see her again after that until some time later. It was a relief.
Of course it might have been nice to have a girlfriend during one of our many family get-togethers. My sisters were each happily married and starting new families. I already had one niece, Ami, and my sister Rhea announced that she was expecting a boy. It sort of stank being the only single one present. Mom and Dad, Rhea and Omar, Juno and Phillip, all of them were so blissfully happy together!
“It’s just you and me, Moonie,” I said to the cat who was the only other bachelor in the house. “We don’t need no stinking girlfriends!” He just yowled at me. Moonie didn’t really like me all that much. He was mom’s stupid cat. He leaped off my lap and hissed.
“Fine,” I muttered. “Be that way.” Then I went to the kitchen to see if I could help mom finish dinner. She was making my favorite, fish and chips.
Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to help my mother. Nothing at all.
A/N: And that is what how Rachel passed. She was making Ares’ favorite meal and as soon as she finished, she just faded away. I guess that she would have liked going out cooking. I thought it was a fitting end. RIP Rachel Fields.