​East Fork:

A Journal of the Arts​​

Baby I'm Sorry
By: Amanda Cok

It was a cold winter night, my bright pink bedroom was serene. A newly changed light bulb shone bright. I contemplated my life under the gaze of the desktop lamp. Life appeared to be complete for the first time in years. I basked in the solitude and privacy of her room. Content with life I had created for myself. I’d quit my job at the movie theater, and was doing well in school. Nothing could ruin it. Those dark days of my past ceased to haunt me, laying dimly in the shadows of her mind. The simplicity of life without vices brought great comfort. No longer lay the worries of failure in my wake, replaced by a peace of mind. Suddenly a phone call disturbs me from my reveries, bringing me back to the troubles of my past. It’s him, it’s Kenny. He said he’d be over in 20 minutes.

I dropped my phone and ran to the bathroom to brush my teeth, shower, and shave. Two hours later, still no call. At that moment I had a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach. I should just call and cancel I thought. My mom was cooking pork chops for dinner and I was happy at home. I rushed downstairs to prepare myself a plate of rice and pork chops. I scarfed it down hurriedly, afraid he’d call and tell me he was here. Still no call…

I grabbed my phone to text him and cancel our plans but right then he texted me, “I’m coming.”

My inner intuition screamed don’t go, don’t go. I ignored my inner voices and sat at my desk waiting for him nervously.

My phone vibrated and his text reads, “I’m here.”

I text back, “Okay coming.”

I rushed downstairs to the foyer and slipped on my shoes.

I looked at my mom and told her, “I’m going out.”

I guess a part of me hoped she’d stop me, but no such luck. I’m all primped up and I smell great but I don’t feel great—a ball of nervousness is churning in my stomach. I still have that sinking feeling that something isn’t quite right. I shut the metal door behind me and locked it. I walk down a couple of steps and travel down the driveway, spotting a white car across the street. The cold wind chills my damp hair, as I clutch my black purse and duck my head against the cold air. The wind ruffles through my buttoned long sleeved dress shirt. I should have worn a jacket. I walked out into the night and crossed the street getting into his new white BMW sedan.

Trying to sound cheerful and appear calm, I open the passenger seat and get in saying, “Hey what’s up?”
Kenny replies, “Hey I can’t believe I still remember how to get to your house.”

The car is filled with the scent of cigarette smoke. As always, the familiar scent is comforting.

I say, “Yeah, you have the same car but instead of black it’s white.”
I always pretend not to know about cars when I’m with him so he doesn’t think I’m interested in him for his car. In fact I love cars and I look at all kinds of cars online, dreaming of one day owning one. In my mind I feel stupid for making such a comment but honestly I don’t know what else to say.

He says, “The other one I had was a Benz. This one’s a BMW.”

I play dumb and say, “Oh.” Suddenly I feel really small. 

“What do you wanna do?” he says.

“I don’t know. Want to go smoke hookah?”

“Nah I don’t like that shit. It’s pointless to smoke it when it doesn’t do anything. I was
thinking of going to the movies.”

He’s a habitual pot smoker and I’d often sit at the base of the shower while he smoked weed on the toilet. I used to smoke with him at some point, and he’d even tell me to ask my friends if they’d be interested in buying from him. Things were different now -- he no longer sold weed, and I no longer smoked with him.

“Okay!”“…but it’s too late.’

Suddenly I feel a huge sense of disappointment. Kenny always says the things I want to hear, just to shut me down. I’m not surprised by it but I can’t help feeling disappointed. I’m worried that he may take me to his house. We’d have sex and he’d drop me home, but he doesn’t drive to his parent’s house. We are currently in Queens, New York. We drive from Bayside down towards Northern and still haven’t decided what to do. The streets are empty, and the night is quiet. All the stores as we drive down the strip of stores along Bell Blvd towards Northern Blvd. The neon signs illuminate the streets, along with the street lamps. I watch as the green lights switch from yellow to red. He told me he was late because he had an argument with his parents, but obviously I didn’t believe that. We drive in silence and that’s when the thoughts begin to consume me. His girlfriend is probably at his house and he probably had an argument with her and she didn’t want him to leave. All these years he’s never had an argument with his parents. They always let him do what he wants…

The mere thought makes me nauseous and disgusted, and I am greatly disappointed in myself. More than anything I just want to be home and not have to be stuck in this situation. As we reach Main Street he tells me about how he has broken up with his girlfriend because she cheated on him with her ex-boyfriend. Not caring about my own dignity, I am actually sympathetic towards him. Behind my head I’m leaning against an Asian cartoon pillow and I’m thinking his ex-girlfriend put it there – he has one too. It breaks my heart and constricts my throat thinking of it. We drive down College Point around by the movie theater and Babies R’ Us. The stores are accompanied by a large parking lot. The area is quite isolated, apart from two shopping centers.

The shopping center where the movie theater and Babies R’ us are located is large. A cross walk leads under a bridge and into a smaller shopping center. Under the bridge pigeons rest above head, and weeds grown along the side. As you walk under the bridge you can feel the crunching of small rocks, and hear the chirping of crickets in the night. In the smaller shopping center are McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts. Chinese food, Smilez arcade, and various other stores. These building are much shorter, and are adjacent from a vintage 24hour bowling alley. A bus stop can be found along the wall of the bowling alley, which takes you back to Northern Blvd. The sidewalks are occasionally cracked and littered with used cups, cigarette filters, and other forms of trash. I’ve been here a million times with my ex-boyfriend Abdur who treated me way better than Kenny ever did. I reminisce about how we used to stand in the cold, he’d hug me and tell me to put my arms inside his jacket to keep me warm. For some reason it dawns on me that I’d rather be waiting for the bus with someone who cares about me, than in a nice car with someone who could care less about me. Kenny pulls into the parking lot where Dunkin Donuts is – where Smilez arcade used to be. I think back to when Abdur used to take me to the arcade and I’d play Dance Dance Revolution.

I say, “What are we doing here?”

“Can you get me tea with milk?”

“Small or large?”

“Just get the small.”

Dunkin Donuts is closed and they’re only serving people through a service window by the entrance. I’m about to protest about how cold it is, but I swallow my words and suck it up in order to please him. I get out of the car as he hands me $10. 

He’s not even going to give me $20. Cheap ass.

“Get whatever you want.”

I’m thinking, great, tonight I’m selling myself for a $5 iced coffee. It’s so cold, I can hardly feel my hands as I stand in line. No guy that cares about you would ask you to stand out in the cold. That’s what dawns on me but I push the thought away. Quite frankly I am feeling so belittled I don’t even have an appetite for an iced coffee or donut. A coffee doesn’t nearly suffice for the way he has treated me in the past and how he’s treating me now…Finally I get his hot tea and my medium iced coffee and get in the car. I have no idea what to anticipate regarding our plans tonight considering we can’t go to his parent’s house. It can’t be anything good…

I get in the passenger’s seat and say, “So what do we do now?

”I hand him the tea and without a hint of emotion he says,


“Drive around?”

“Why don’t we stay here?”

“Too many people.”

Kenny begins to drive, eventually stopping on a dark deserted street. I’d be afraid if I was with any other guy, but to a certain extent I trust him. He’s never laid a hand on me and he’s never physically forced me to have sex. Anyway, he can’t rape me because I’d willingly have sex with him, except I’m not planning to tonight. My stomach is sick with guilt and I just want to be home. I regret getting all prettied up to be parked in a dark deserted street. He makes me feel worthless – as always. I sip on my coffee because I don’t know what else to do, and we make small talk. We talk about school and I tell him I want to graduate medical school and become a psychiatrist one day.

Kenny replies by saying, “Quite honestly you’re a bit old for that. Most people who aim to be doctors start when they’re 16 you’re already 22. You should be more realistic.”

I’m appalled by his statement but I keep quiet, considering I’m used to him blabbering on
about himself and acting condescendingly towards me. He tells me about the stresses of his job and how well he handles specific situations. Then he talks about how his girlfriend probably won’t graduate college anytime soon, because she just got back into college after working at her parent’s restaurant.

In response I say, “Girlfriend?”

“Yeah, yeah. I mean ex-girlfriend.”


In my heart I know he’s still with his girlfriend and he is by no means single. The thought of that really hurts me to the core. All I’m thinking about is not hooking up with him and getting my ass home. I’m quite content that he hasn’t made a move because I don’t plan on having sex with him. Quite suddenly he leans in and kisses me. All of the sudden I’m kissing him back and I’m quite turned on– force of habit. I’m kissing him back and my mind is telling me just enjoy the moment and don’t overthink it. He grabs my hand and leads it to his erection. I’m stroking him and he pushes my head down. I look up at him and keep stroking hesitantly. I look into his eyes and shake my head.

“Come on please for me? Don’t you trust me?”

Finally I say, “Do you have a thing?”

“You mean a condom?”

He checks his wallet and doesn’t find one. He pulls his pants on and says, “We can go buy one.” He starts the car and begins driving. We’re by Flushing Mall, and he’s looking for a convenience store. He turns to me and says, “Can you go in and buy it? I’ll park here.”

“No, I’m embarrassed.”

“You’re a grown woman. Anyway, it’s just an Indian guy in there, don’t worry.”

For some reason my mind jumps to how my ex-boyfriend was Bengali, and unlike him I do care about the opinion of some Indian guy. Then I think about how he once told me that he would never date a black girl because they’re too masculine, and the fact that he’s only dated Asian girls. I begin to despise him for that. I start to remember how cruel he could be and how I don’t want to have sex with him at all.

Exasperated, he says, “Fine I’ll go get it. Wait here.”

I wait in the car thinking about feeling pressured to have sex with him. No you don’t have to. You are free to do whatever you want. Just say no. But he’ll be mad. I decide that I’ll just do it since I’ve been celibate for the last year or so. In a twisted way I’ve been saving myself for him. Considering how terrible I’ve felt having sex with others guys to spite him in the past, and regretting it once things between us were good again. He comes back in the car and we drive back to the dark deserted street. Awkwardly we begin to kiss again. We struggle to get comfortable but can’t find a good position.

Kenny asks, “Do you want to go to the back seat?”

Reluctantly in my last attempt to delay what is going to happen I say, “But it’s raining.”

He says, “Don’t worry, it’ll be quick. You won’t get wet.

”We both get out of our seats and head to the back seat. We start kissing again and I stroke
him until he’s hard and slip on the condom. I begin to give him head and I feel my retainer rip
the condom but I keep going.

He says, “Take off your pants.”

I struggle to take them off in the small confines of the back seat. We try to maneuver into
a position where we can have sex.

He says, “Do you want to go on top?”

In an attempt to keep my good girl façade I say, “I don’t know how to.”

He turns me to my side and penetrates me from behind. It feels so good. I just lay there
and enjoy the moment. I haven’t had sex in so long. Why does it feel so good? Suddenly he
ejaculates and pulls out of me. I reach down and check myself. Why am I so wet? I lift my fingers
and sniff. Oh no, the condom broke…He hands me a bunch of tissues and as I’m cleaning myself
off I hear him complaining about how it got on the seat. I keep asking him to pass me more tissues. I figure if I wipe well enough I’ll lessen the chance of getting pregnant. Eventually I feel like I can’t clean anymore so I pull up my underwear and pants, close the zipper, and fasten my belt. The familiar routine of fastening my pants is comforting. We both still have our shirts on because we didn’t bother to take them off. In this moment I could care less if his car got dirty. I considered how he told me his ex-girlfriend had cheated on him with her ex-boyfriend. Once the heat of the moment faded, the reality, of our situation finally hit me. I am the other woman.

In a panic I look at him and say, “What if I get pregnant? Do you have anything?”

“You won’t get pregnant. Watch, in a month you’ll get your period and stop bugging out. Plus I took this pill that prevents me from getting girls pregnant.”

In my head I’m thinking bullshit. He doesn’t know how well read I am on health forums, and I’ve done my share of research on contraception and STDs. There is no birth control readily available to men yet. He always treats me like a naïve young girl who doesn’t know anything just because he’s 4 years older than me. He’s always advising about what I need to do with my life, as if I needed his opinion.

It’s still raining as we get back into the front seat.

I turn to him again and say, “Are you sure you don’t have anything?”

“No I got checked 6 months ago. You always do this. I took off work and I got checked for everything. They even checked my lungs. I was pissed I had to skip work and lose that day’s pay and spend so much money on the doctor. My mom was worried so she made me go.”

I’ve heard this spiel before and it didn’t calm my nerves. I knew he was just telling me whatever I needed to hear so I’d shut up about it.

“If you had something would you tell me?”


“Are you sure? Because some people have HIV and they still go sleeping with people.”

“I don’t have HIV. If I was going to do that, don’t you think I’d do it to someone I didn’t know? I wouldn’t do that to someone I know. You’ve changed. You used to be more carefree and go out drinking with your friends.”

“I’ve grown up.”

“I guess you’re right.”

I began thinking, did he like me more when I was 14? Was I more daring? Was I more
attractive? Did he like my skinny size 0 waist, or my pink Ecko Red? Or those sexy Apple Bottom jeans? I looked down at my button up shirt from Express and ripped jeans and wondered.

I am quiet after that and just dwelled on my thoughts as we drove down Main Street back
to my parent’s house.  It doesn’t help that I’m a total hypochondriac, and I can tell I’m beginning to annoy him. I can tell he’s losing his patience with me because he doesn’t like me as much as he used to. Thoughts about possibly being pregnant or contracting an incurable STD haunt my mind.

Kenny goes, “Shit, I forgot to pick up my brother. I was supposed to pick him up after he got out of a work party. Let me call him. Be quiet.”

My heart sinks when he tells me to be quiet. He doesn’t want his family to know about me…All of a sudden my self-esteem dwindles and I can’t believe he’s doing this to me again. He’s told me to be quiet a couple of years ago when he was on the phone with a former girlfriend. He dials his brother from his car. His brother doesn’t answer, and he figures he took the bus. He lights a cigarette smokes while driving. I never liked that he smoked. I hate the smell of 2nd hand smoke but I dealt with it because of how badly I wanted it to work between us. It’s actually one of the reasons I decided to stop talking to him prior to tonight. We’re driving down Northern and as we stop at a red light he opens the door. I turn towards him and wonder what he’s doing. He puts the condom extra in his wallet and discards the Trojan box. That’s when the thought dawns on me, he’s hiding me from someone. He doesn’t want his girlfriend to know what he was doing tonight. At this point I highly doubt they have broken up – and if they have it’s been a recent break up.

In this moment I hate him so much, and I feel like a cheap one night stand. He makes a turn at Northern and Bell, and we’re getting close to my house. He gives me some advice about driving and I pretend to be fascinated. He never stops in front of my house because he doesn’t want my parents to see him. This guy is always keeping me a secret. Why do I even waste my time with him? As if he hasn’t made me feel worthless enough. At this point, I’m actually extremely mad at him but I turn and give him a hug goodbye. In my heart I know this will be the last time I say goodbye to him, but I’m too angry to be sad about it. I open the door and step out onto the patch of wet grass and onto the sidewalk. As I’m walking away all I’m thinking about is that I hope he waits for me to get in the house before he drives away. I think a part of me wants that to happen so I can say he still cares about me. Half way down the driveway I hear him drive away. I start thinking about how on the night of my cousin’s birthday, she waited until I unlocked the door and then I turned around to say goodbye before driving away. That’s what somebody who cares about you would do. I walk into the house and lock the door. The house is dark, is asleep. For some odd reason I look at myself in the mirror to check if I look good. I feel even sorrier for myself. Is that how much I’m worth? That I’d care to look good for a guy that treats me like shit. Numbness consumes me to deal with the pain, sadness, and disappointment. All hope of mending things with Kenny are gone. Subconsciously I intended to hook up with him because I shaved everywhere, including my privates. However I told myself I was going to withhold sex from him. I just wanted him to remain in my life. We’d been together on and off for 9 years now. Turns out my subconscious was right all along. Why did I choose to ignore it? It still boggles my mind.

So I take off my shoes and get ready for my regretful hookup ritual. Usually I do this
when I come home drunk and I’ve hooked up with a complete stranger. This time it’s with
someone very dear to my heart, who has become a stranger over the years. I walk quietly up the stairs and put my unfinished iced coffee on my wooden desk. I walk to the bathroom and shut the door. I strip off my clothes and get in the shower. I begin to scrub off vigorously every area he kissed me. I want the smell of him gone. I start cleaning my privates, and insert my fingers into my vagina to clean it out with body wash in order to prevent getting pregnant. When I finish I contemplate whether I should brush my teeth. Did I want to wash away the remnants of his last kiss? I put my hands on the sink and lean forward and to check myself in the mirror. I looked the same. I decided to brush my teeth. I do so mechanically and rush to my room right after to get dressed. I try not to turn on the lights for too long to not wake my parents. I’ve hidden drunken hook ups from them in the past.

Every night I kiss my build-a-bear Qoola good night but this time I refrain from it. My lips are dirty -- I gave Kenny a blowjob. I refuse to kiss my innocent bear with those lips. Up until then I had changed my ways and turned to that bear as a reminder of my responsibility as an adult. All those times I had come home drunk and taken advantage of by a guy and I’ve cried while pretending to have the bear pet my head and tell me it’s okay. I had quit drinking and promised to change my ways, and I had not had sex with anybody. If I did in fact get pregnant hewould definitely be the father. Years before that I wouldn’t be so sure about my child’s paternity. I prayed to God for miracles, and luckily I never got pregnant from those drunken hook ups. Now I laid in bed and worried about getting a pregnancy test if I missed my period that month, and hoping against everything that I wasn’t pregnant. The reality was that he wouldn’t be there for me, and I didn’t want to make the call and tell him I was pregnant. I’d be a total disgrace to my family. I come from a strict Roman Catholic Chinese family and extramarital pregnancies are unacceptable.

Once again I felt the emptiness of his departure, and I wondered once again if he’d call me tomorrow, knowing full well that he wouldn’t. I knew this guy inside and out because I held on to every word, and every action I’ve ever experience with him.

I hugged my bear and said, “I’m sorry baby.”