A Short Story about Dating Red Flags ...

1. My Room

Mel was on speakerphone, so I could still hear her voice pop out of my cell while Candy Crush filled my screen.

That stupid game always calmed me down.

It wasn't complicated.

It wasn't confusing.

It was just plain relaxing.

Unlike boys.

"So he's mad at you for what, exactly?" Mel asked, her words clipped.

She had been telling me to break up with Jimmy for weeks now.

Whenever I had a tiny complaint about him, her solution was to dump him.

Of course, that wasn't happening.

He was my first real boyfriend.

The love of my life.

Besides, all of the things she considered "red flags" were normal behaviors, as far as I was concerned.

"I was telling him about my hair appointment and he wasn't having it," I said absentmindedly, my fingers moving across the screen.

"Why?

He doesn't want you to dye it?"

"It's not that.

It's like...

Like, remember when he got pissed at me for spending so much money on makeup?"

She made a grunt that meant "yes."

"Well, it's like that," I continued.

"He thinks I'm trying to look good for other guys and it makes him self-conscious, I guess.

I don't know.

He's so insecure.

And he has such a bad temper.

You know that."

Silence.

Then a long sigh that seemed never-ending.

"You have to be careful with a guy like that," she said.

"I know.

I know."

"Apparently you don't.

The way he's acting isn't sweet.

It's scary."

"He's just worried about losing me.

It's because he likes me," I said, and I believed it.

I'd rather have a boyfriend who was way too attached than a boyfriend who refused to return my texts, like the last guy I had a crush on.

"No," she said, drawing out the word like she was speaking to a toddler getting too close to the stove.

"It's because he's a controlling, manipulative creep.

Right now, he's trying to control the way you do your hair and makeup.

Soon, he'll be telling you not to hang out with me, because it's wasting time he could be spending with you.

And then, one day, you'll tell him he's being unreasonable and he'll beat the crap out of you."

Mel could be so dramatic.

So petty.

So jealous.

I clicked my phone's "home" button, opened my phone app, and hung up on her.

Jimmy's House