I think I always knew there was someone else.
Over the years, there were always whispers, hardly ever screams, never full out roars of there being someone else. But I think I always knew.
At the time, I was young and in love, misguided by the thought that if I was #1 all the extracurriculars didn’t matter. He was still doing for me all the things that I thought a boyfriend should do at the time. So, I ignored the whispers, I brushed off the looks, because at the end of the day y’all, I was The One.
Except I think I always knew.
I could always feel him. Not in the literal sense but in the metaphysical manifestation of the word. Sometimes, I remember, we’d be apart and the hairs on the back of neck would stand up. I couldn’t see it. But I could feel it. I could feel the energy of it, enough to damn near knock me off my feet. I’d send my own hot, angry energy back at him; “Get away from her.”
And he would.
But she was there, still. An ever present cloud blocking just a small corner of my rainbow, stealing an inch of my shine. She was never in the forefront, always a hazy silhouette on the horizon that sometimes I could convince myself was just a mirage, a hallucination.
But denial isn’t quite as blissful as ignorance.
I knew. Of course I knew. EVERYONE knew. But I was #1, so I felt righteous, even indignant in my stance as The One. She was just The Other.
I remember the first time I figured out who she was. She approached me and my limbs turned to ice. Blood roared in my ears, a disjointed symphony that all swelled to the same crescendo; this was Her, The Other.
THIS was her? Boo you busted, broke down bitch. I had so many sharp words dancing on the edge of my tongue, fighting my lips, dying to get out. But I held my peace. I played it cool. After all I was still The One.
“Have you seen him around?”
“I see him everyday, you’d have to be more specific,” I reply, as acidic as I can manage without burning my tongue. I watch her recoil, not expecting such a response from someone like me. They always underestimate me.
“I, um-” she’s stuttering now and I’m chuckling to myself because I realize I’ve got her shook.
“When WE go home,” I spit at her, “I’ll let my man know you was lookin’ for him.”
“Yeah, um, thanks.” Pause. “How long have you two been together?”
“6 years,” I say, softer this time, because she looks like something has broken behind her eyes.
“He’s-” she clears her throat- “a good guy. You’re lucky to have him.”
And she turns on her heel and run/walks down the hall away from me.
It was then I decided to leave him.
Looking in her eyes right then, I knew I wasn’t The One. And she wasn’t The Other. We both were just another. We were just two little girls, naive enough to believe that sharing a man wasn’t so bad if you ranked higher than someone else on his list. So fucking stupid I was.
In the time that has passed, there have been many times when I felt the same premonition. Never caught wind of any all out conversations, just whispers, fragmented sentences carried on air with no known source. Since then, I’ve become a different woman. I know how to fold when someone’s mere presence in my space makes my hair stand on end. I can feel that energy, that ice radiating off The Other when I’m miles away. I don’t stand for it anymore.
I think I always knew there was someone else. I think I’ve known it every time since. But I’m not much for showdowns in high school hallways anymore. Now though, I don’t stick around for the fall out, I cut my losses and I move on even if I am #1.
It doesn’t really pain me anymore.
Once a good girl goes bad, right?