He knew things would end before they began. After all, his relationships have a six-month expiration date.
His blue eyes undressed me before words flowed from his lips, before he had a chance to brush his fingers through my hair, down the small of my back. He was painfully good looking, and he knew it. He could anticipate my body’s response, my attraction to him and when he would leave me. But what he didn’t expect was herpes.
Within two weeks of sleeping with him, I had my first outbreak. He was the only person I had been sleeping with, and the timeline from when we slept together to that initial outbreak all coincided with our night together.
The night prior to the eruption of painful lesions hidden between swollen lips, we were chasing one another around a local bar. No care in the world, no expiration date. After dragging his intoxicated ass to bed, I awoke to an uncomfortable feeling below my waist. He left, and I struggled with the response my body was giving me. I hesitantly called and made a doctor appointment for the following day.
Until then, anxiety took over. Thoughts of what it could be and what it might not be overflowed my thoughts. It didn’t help that with each step I took, there was a painful reminder between my legs.
I remember sitting in the lobby of the doctor’s office, creating excuses in my head and reaching for an affirmation that I wasn’t the girl who got an STD.
Maybe it was the way the lace of my thong rubbed against me. And above all else, I’m not the type of girl who gets herpes, echoed in my head.
Little did I know, herpes has no type. The nurse scraped my lesions, and I cried in excruciating pain. And he wasn’t there. He had no idea this was going on.
My blood test came back negative, but my culture returned positive, indicating a recent infection. So I did what anyone would do in this situation: I drank an entire bottle of wine.
I struggled with how to tell him what had occurred. Do I tell him at all? Do I pretend nothing happened? No, I had to tell him. So, I bought him a bottle of bourbon and texted him that we needed to talk in person, ASAP.
He was busy, of course. Studying for a motorcycle test. A motorcycle he would never ride, never purchase. Another almost to add to his list of unfulfilled tasks.
Of course, he thought I was pregnant at first. When I told him it was herpes, he seemed receptive and caring, but as days and weeks passed us by, he became cold. He built walls around any conversation involving our shared virus. It became something we rarely discussed.
Over the following months, he drifted further away. Whenever we went on double dates with our friends, he would never come home with me. There was always an excuse as to why he couldn’t stay. Deep down, I knew he would never allow true intimacy to develop, but I didn’t believe it.
When we were at a bar on Thanksgiving Eve, he didn’t even say, Hello. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence. So, I did what anyone in an almost-relationship would do: I pulled him aside and confronted him.
I’m not trying to make this a couple thing tonight, he whispered. I backed off, but a few beers later, he was in my bed at the end of the night. The last night we spent together, I told him to stop being such an asshole. He fucked me and said he had somewhere to be the next morning. A meeting with his school, a school he would never attend. A free education he chose not to pursue.
I told him, “I’m not the girl you fuck and leave. Don’t make me her.” And for once, he listened.
The next day, I received a Snapchat from him. I was curious because at this point, Snapchats from him seemed few and far between. So, I eagerly opened it. It was a long chat. A chat that would soon expire. A chat I couldn’t screenshot, but wish I had.
He told me he thought about what I had said the night before. He said those were things someone says to their boyfriend, a label he decided wasn’t applicable to our situation. He told me we need to take a break or slow things down,” which never means anything good.
This wasn’t happening. A 26-year-old just ended an almost-relationship over a Snapchat text. He knew I wouldn’t screenshot it. He knew it would expire. There would be no texts to look back upon or share with friends. It was only a story he could choose to deny.
After the Snapchat almost-breakup, I found the courage to move past this guy. I found my voice and came out publicly about my HSV2+ status to my Facebook friends, fulfilling a promise to myself I made when I contracted the virus.
I started blogging; I started writing and using my voice to create change. I wrote one article, which was directed at any potential woman who might come into contact with him.
His new lady friend was upset, and he sent me a message. It was a text, this time. Like he had done to me for months, I ignored it.
When 24 hours passed without my reply, he texted one last time, Nice talk. Yeah, it was.
He expired. He always said I was a good writer. He just didn’t expect the words I wrote would be about him.