Hey there, hi there, ho there, dear readers! It’s time to immerse yourselves in my own response to last week’s prompt…and please feel free to share your own! You can put a link in the comments section, if you’d like…and as always, there are links to my previous responses below this week’s response. Happy reading and writing, all!
Choose a moral dilemma (for example, you see someone pocket several items at a CVS; you’re in a car at night, with people you don’t know well, and the driver hits a dog that ran into the road; you learn that a friend is having unprotected sex, etc.) and explain what you would do. More importantly, explain why you would do it. What do you know about yourself that accounts for such a decision?
“Artie is cheating on Donna,” Stephanie tells Cara and me, her stale beer breath washing over us as she leans in to be heard over the din of the keg party. “When Donna and I were home over winter break, Josie said that Mary told her that Dave saw him kissing…”
I barely heard the rest. Cara looked at me, the shocked expression on her face mirroring the tumult in my head, and I’m sure we were both thinking the same, heart-sick thought: What do we do now?
Cara, Donna and I had become immediate best-friends-for-life over a year ago, the first week of freshman year. Existing together in a room no bigger than your average single-car garage, we got along famously, and grew to know each other completely, as roommates are wont to do.
I arrived at college with an engagement ring on my finger, and both Cara and Donna were single throughout freshman year. But upon our return in the fall of sophomore year, Donna brought pictures of her new boyfriend, Artie, whom we had been regaled with all manner of detailed expository over the course of the summer via letters and phone calls (these were the days long before texting and email). Artie lived in her hometown, and attended college in the next town over from ours, reachable by local bus service–which they frequently used to their advantage.
And now, two years later, this.
At the earliest convenient moment, Cara and I escaped the alcohol-amped cacophony to the cool fall air outside the apartment, both of us sick with the news.
“Oh, Jesus Christ, Cara!” My voice shook, and I ran my hands through my hair, pulling it with anxious fury.
“I know, Dee. I know. What the hell do we do with this?” Cara looked as though she were about to cry. “I mean, we both know Stephanie can be a bit…untrustworthy,” she added, and I nodded. “What if we tell Donna, and Stephanie was wrong? Think about it–it was all here-say, really.” The conversation went along in this bent for a few more minutes, and we decided to hold our tongues.
This was a decision we both came to regret. Twelve years later, Artie left Donna–after being married for more than ten years and having two children together–for another woman. Not the same woman he purportedly cheated on Donna with back in college, but a woman he had been having an affair with for over five years. Five years.
When Donna told us about the affair and her separation-soon-to-be-divorce from Artie, Cara and I exchanged that same, horrified look we shared at that long-ago keg party–only this time, it was laced with shame. If only we had told her then, I remember thinking. I’m sure she would have broken up with him.
Neither Cara nor I ever told Donna about that early revelation–neither of us could see any good coming from her receiving that knowledge. But I found myself wondering–did we hold back because we weren’t sure if the source was trustworthy, or did we simply not want to be the bearers of heartbreaking news? I feel as though it was the latter–a case of sticking our heads in the sand and hoping the nastiness all just went away, or that Donna would find out some other way. Perhaps we subconsciously feared that she wouldn’t believe us–and the havoc that could wreak with our still-close-to-this-day friendship.
Either way, I see it as cowardice at its root–no matter what our intentions were. Thankfully, Donna eventually met and married an amazing guy–and we like him so much more than we ever liked Artie.
Which makes it easier to come to terms with the decision to keep quiet all those years ago.