*Originally posted on Medium.
“I didn’t mean to ghost you like that. Maybe I was really messed up on drugs, maybe I just felt like we were getting so serious, but I don’t know. I felt like I needed to be alone that night and for a lot of nights after that. By the time I wanted you again, I was too embarrassed to come back. I know you didn’t deserve to be treated like that so I stayed out of your life.”
The delicacy of his words shocked me, never had he been so honest about his decision-making process. Gray was the type of man to rarely think about the “WHY?” to his actions and continue living life day-by-day, but for me he thought about his wrongdoings.
“You’re here to right your wrongs, but why did you assume how you would make me feel? Why do you get to decide that I don’t need you around anymore?”
Gray’s brown eyes almost rolled over, but he caught me watching and quickly straightened his eyes onto me. I was not surprised by his reaction, however, as I knew the metaphor in Gray’s mind about his honest sharing. Trembling, he handed me a part of his heart and his soul as if it were some ancient antique. I picked his gifts up confidently, inspected them, then put them back down broke. This was just the game we play, our conversations were alike but never truly the same.
Unfortunately, my need to have an upper hand is higher than my need for Gray. He showed me that I could live without him, even if that living meant constantly comparing other people to him. Gray stood silent for a moment, which felt like an eternity because there was never silence between us.
Two Months Prior
One cannot have an adventure without risk, so when Gray invited me to the traditional forest banger my town hosted every year, I was all in. Waldtrek is known to every child and parent in the county, considering the local tradition started in 1984. Few people understand how this banger is set up as the date and exact location in the forest vary every year. The party is invite only, but once you’re invited you can invite as many people as you like. Also, there are never any cops at the function which forces the curious minded to assume that there is an organization that runs these events. This organization must be made up of powerful people in our community, however I’m merely speculating as there is very much a secret society feel to this banger. I mean, no one even knows who came up with the name and the name is quite interesting considering Wald translates to forest in German, while everyone knows that a trek is just some journey. If this was supposed to be a party, then why would they call it a forest journey?
The risk in this party was my parents. Never, in a million, trillion years would my conservative family let their daughter participate in any kind of reckless behavior. I could be forty years old, posting a picture of me drinking a mimosa at brunch with my husband and children, but my mother would still call me and plead with me to remove the photo. That’s just how my parents are; so naturally, disobeying that strict upbringing always felt incredible. I wonder sometimes how different I would be if I was raised any other way, but those what if’s feel useless to imagine.
Waldtrek was starting at 9:30 on a Saturday night, which felt too perfect. In previous years, the banger would begin at midnight on a Wednesday or around noon on a Sunday, but tonight was perfect. I could easily lie about where I was going on a Saturday night, especially since that was what I had done every weekend for most of my growing life.
I was to meet Gray at the park by our house, then we would take his car to drive closer to the exact location. My parents would have disapproved of my outfit for the party, so of course I hid my real outfit into my bag and told my parents I would be spending the night at my best friend’s house. My parents and I exchanged I love you’s and kisses, then I left with a smile on my face.
I stepped out of my parked car and jumped into the passenger seat of Gray’s shitty corolla. His reaction to my outfit was exactly what I had envisioned when I was throwing it on. This was the party of the year to everyone else, but this was the party of a life time for me. Underneath my clothing, I wore no bra or underwear. The sheer pink crop top I wore made me feel like a Barbie doll, but in all the right ways. You could slightly see the outline of my nipples and where the halter top stopped, tanned skin began. My denim booty shorts were high-waisted perfectly, showing off my hourglass figure. The way Gray stared at me made me feel like I was the lovely girl in the red dress, the show stopper.
“Why are you always so stunning?”
“Don’t make me blush, babe, I’ll be as pink as my shirt and then you’ll leave me.”
“Funny AND cute? I got lucky with you.”
Although I loved hearing these compliments from Gray, they always made me wonder when he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend. We never defined our relationship, but we did the things most couples do, like going on dates and spending everyday with each other. As far as I knew, Gray wasn’t with other girls because he could not possibly have the time to be with other girls. This rationale never stopped my irrational imagination, though.
“Hm, I didn’t know you had me like that.”
“Who else do I have like that?”
I remained silent inside of trying to think of a response. Luckily, the curvy road leading into the forest parking lot was soon coming to end, signaling the start of our adventure. Gray pulled into the already packed parking lot, but managed to find a prime spot without much struggle. All around us, people were chattering about their excitement, while making wild accusations about the formation of the tradition. Gray and I laughed at the snippets we would hear; one already drunk girl was loudly bragging about this being her fifth year at the event while an unimpressed, sober male was arguing with each one of her points. Sometimes when we would go out, Gray and I would make up stories about strangers’ lives.
“She’s twenty-six, works at your local TGI Friday’s and that fellow is her thirty-four-year-old boyfriend, who is like SO over her young age, wild bullshit,” Gray mused.
“They don’t live together because she, like, TOTALLY needs her own space and he can be a *bit* controlling. Her friends hate him because he is so obviously a condescending prick, but she just wants him to take care of her. Great sex, but his small size still leaves her unsatisfied.”
“You analyzed way too much for just that small conversation, but that was spot on,” Gray said while chuckling. He was looking at me, again, like I was something else, something different.
The walk into the banger was guided by the various other party goers, which made the usual dark, frightening walk in the forest bright and lively. Phone screens were lit up everywhere, some people even had their flashlight on their iPhones on to guide their walk, while others wore glow sticks as jewelry and relied on that small light. Gray and I followed along the crowd and I could feel the excitement brewing inside my stomach.
We were underage, but that didn’t stop Gray from getting a bottle for us from his older sister. Most partygoers carried bags that appeared heavy, which made me wonder how light they would become by the end of this drunk celebration. The only thing that I drink is hard liquor because I prefer to get drunk quickly, so Gray brought along a Smirnoff Green Apple Vodka and I brought us individual Coke bottles to chase our shots. Gray and I started sipping as soon as we arrived, but the alcohol was only hitting me now.
“This night is going to be fucking incredible. I can feel it,” I said while interlocking hands with Gray.
“You’re smiling a lot and biting down hard on your teeth, you’re tipsy baby!”
“Sober, tipsy, or drunk, I’m going to have my fun.”
The last moments that I remember (before I regained consciousness) were entering Waldtrek. When you hear about a party in the forest, you probably are not expecting much in terms of decorations. I remember turning towards Gray and saying, “There has to be a secret society that organizes this. There are round tables and chairs for us to sit at, lights strung along the tree branches for us to dimly see, and there is a buffet. A buffet! Who is paying for this? Seriously! I want to know!”
“Doesn’t matter to me, I’m just feeling lucky to be here with you.”
“Now you’re the one who sounds tipsy.”
“Well, I’m going to have my fun,” Gray said while pulling me into the designated dance area.
1 Shot. 2 Shot. 3 Shot, 4. More. More. More.
Before I have the strength to open my eyes, I hear myself thinking, “Where am I? What am I doing?”
Within the next moment, I can feel a soft coldness on my back and hear movements, along with distant noise. Finally, my eyes open. Night sky, stars. Tree branches, leaves. Okay, so I remember now. I’m at Waldtrek. How many drinks did I have to end up on this floor? Where is Gray? My head turns to look for him, but for some reason I am incredibly sore. I look down towards my body and yes, I am still clothed, although now that I am vulnerable I feel exposed. Where is Gray?
My phone was in the back pocket of my tight shorts, thankfully, so upon grabbing it I forced myself to stand up. This task was extremely more difficult than I imagined and I began wondering what the fuck happened to me. Where is Gray?
I have no messages on my phone and I feel hurt, but more so shocked. Did I tell Gray to leave without me? Why would I ever do that, did something happen between us? Something must have happened, I mean if he was missing from me in a forest I’d be blowing up his phone. Where the fuck is Gray?
I call his phone but the dial tone is the only thing I hear after several rings. I call again. The time is three AM. This really cannot be happening to me. After five calls and no response, I give up. I look over my body to inspect any bruises or wounds that could explain something, but the only marks I see are simple ones that could easily happen while partying. I look through my phone and call my best friend, who is usually awake now.
“Stephanie. Fuck, thank you for picking up. If I start crying, I’m sorry,” I quickly say into my iPhone.
“Girl, what’s wrong? Aren’t you at Waldtrek? Did something happen with Gray?”
I think the best part of having a best friend is having someone who remembers. I told her a week ago about my excitement for this night and she could already sense why I was calling.
“If I share my location with you, could you come pick me up? I’ll come out to the entrance. I don’t know where Gray is and I woke up on the ground, alone. Steph, I’m scared, please.”
“Yes. Stay on the phone with me so I know you stay safe. What percent is your phone at?” Stephanie was always smarter than me at survival.
“I’m at twenty-five percent, I tried calling Gray multiple times so that drained my battery a little. I think we’ll be fine.”
Present Day, in the car
“Delilah, what do you want me to say? We fought over text incessantly after that night because you couldn’t even remember what happened. I saw what happened, how petty you got. It made me not want to be with you and maybe it was some drunk shit, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that night. I still can’t stop thinking about it,” Gray admitted.
The night of Waldtrek, while I was blacked out drunk, I assumed Gray was flirting with other girls and started drifting away from him, into the crowd. Next time he sees me, Gray notices me pushing up on other guys, giving them flirty looks, etc. Do I believe this happened? Yes, probably. I was drunk and I think most people revert to their insecure stages while intoxicated. Do I believe he should have ghosted me for two months because of this drunk moment? No, completely and entirely no.
“You left me unconscious at a fucking forest party. Terrible, terrible things could have happened to me there.”
“But they didn’t. I knew that nothing bad would happen to you”
“But they could have! Are you fucking kidding me right now?”
“I can’t talk about how I knew, but everyone knows that Waldtrek is the safest environment for partying. The cops never bust the party, yeah, but think about why.”
“Are you trying to tell me there is a secret society that organizes this? And that this society goes as far as to ensure partygoers safety? Do you know how crazy that sounds?”
“As crazy as me leaving you alone, drunk, in the woods. Yeah, I know.”
“Why’d you ask to see me Gray? What did you want to get out of this?”
“I want you in my life again. I feel like I’m not happy having you never around, but I don’t know if I can ever have you be my girl again.”
“I was never your girl. So, you want to be friends?”
“I want to be special to you.”
“Because I’m special to you?”
Gray nodded his head, but I didn’t care. I thought I wanted Gray back, I thought I wanted him to be around, but his honesty developed my own truth.
After that day, I heard from Gray only occasionally. We would often catch up through text or on the phone. Whether I interacted with him, though, stopped being pertinent in my mind.
So, what did I decide to do?
I decided I never needed you.