The smell was noticeable. My nostrils recognized it immediately. Stepping into Brad's apartment transported me directly back to college, to that part of campus that was as exhilarating as it was exhausting: the boy's dormitories. His place reeked of testosterone mixed with feet and a hint of Old Spice Sport. My suspicions were true. He even smelled like a prick.
Two months ago, things were going great. Brad and I saw each other nearly every day. We met up with friends for drinks after work, we cuddled on the couch in the evenings, we even had dinner once with my parents. Life was beautifully mundane, peacefully normal.
And then he gave me a key to his apartment. According to my friend Cindy, I overreacted. In my defense, I was perioding. When Brad handed me my own key on a well worn UNC lanyard, I cried. I swooned. I supposed he was committed. Clearly, I was wrong. This is my first time here since.
Our nearly daily dates dwindled to one or two a week. We still talked, texted and tweeted regularly, but it was mostly to realize our schedules would not line up. Brad got really busy at work. I got really busy at the business of backing up Brad. Cindy kept harping on me to get to the bottom of all of the mess, but I was too blind to embrace her concern.
And then, in my way, I just let life happen to me. I let Brad pussy foot around his reasons for being absent. I demanded no information. I basically enabled his affair. So what did I do the minute I saw him with his hand on her thigh at his favorite pub down the street? I used the key to his apartment the way he had used me; behind his back and in order to have the upper hand.
Standing in the middle of Brad's living room I felt equally foolish and furious, embarrassed and entitled. The combination must have been just the medicine I needed. I began scanning the room for ways to make him feel the same way. Holding the key between my thumb and forefinger, palm to the ceiling, I slowly walked around pointing at what I might take, break or both.
Lucky for him, his two most prized possessions, his phone and his penis, possibly in that order, were on his person. Then, the invisible, vengeful eyes of the key landed on something new to me in the room: a gigantic, gleaming flat screen TV. I am not sure how I overlooked in before. But, the important point was that and I saw it now.
Like magnets the key and the television connected before I could give the attraction a second thought. Careful not to shatter the screen, I etched a simple message into its surface, "YOUR KEY." I then drew a two foot arrow pointing down to the top of the dusty piece-of-crap cabinet on which the television stood. Tossing the key to land below the end of that liberating stroke, I waltzed out of Brad's life and let the door slam behind me.
Running down the stairs on a wave of ecstasy I hadn't felt in weeks, I dialed Cindy.
"Hey!!" she yelled over the bar's banter.
"I'm coming out," I unnecessarily shouted back. "Is that guy Nathan still meeting you all?"
"For real?! I thought you were waiting for Brad to call."
"Game. Over. It is my turn to play."
This piece is a work of fiction and was inspired by this week's the speakeasy writing prompt. For the challenge we had to use the first line, "The smell was noticeable" and refer, in some way, to the photo above. Click on the button below to read the prompt and the other beautiful writers who hang out there. Thanks!