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I've screwed it all up
building
astillar
This all started a couple days before Christmas.
Brittney and I went out to a Mexican restaurant as a belated celebration of the commencement of our winter break. We had margaritas, 2 or 3 each, I think. On the way back to her place, she stopped at a nail salon to fix her nails. I wandered and browsed at the Spy Shop next door. As I was looking at the gadgets, I got the idea that one of those spy cameras could help me figure out how my students were cheating on tests. Of all the things that my students do, cheating is the one thing that I can’t forgive or ignore. And yet, they keep doing it. It burns me up. If I’d been sober I don’t think I would’ve bought the clock with the concealed camera. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Back at her place, Brittney felt like taking a long bath and left me alone. I plugged in the camera-clock to my laptop to figure out how it worked. It was much more complicated than I thought. I could get it to work through motion-detection, but I couldn’t figure out all the internet/wi-fi stuff. Brittney came out unexpectedly and asked me what I was playing with.
I didn’t want to tell her that I had bought a camera to spy on my students. I don’t think it’s technically prohibited, but it would have been shaming to admit that I needed to resort to this to combat the problems in my classroom. Especially to her. Even though we’re both first-year teachers (and I have roughly a year of experience substituting), she is a superior teacher. Her failure rate and cheating problems are virtually non-existent. I try not to be envious when we compare notes on such matters, but I am. She has personal skills that I don’t and my teaching suffers as a result. So in that moment, I couldn’t bring myself to admit what it was. I mumbled some reply to the effect of, “It’s a wi-fi clock that my brother bought me for Christmas.” She said, “Oh cool,” and returned to her bath.
As I sobered up I started to have second thoughts about this idea so I put the camera away in my bag with the rest of my belongings I keep at her place.

Both Brittney and I had separate plans on Christmas Eve and Day. On the 26th we went to the BBQ. The 27th was the next time I visited her place. In the mean time I’d tried looking up a better translated manual for the clock online. One resource pointed out that I needed to charge the battery before using the clock the first time. So when I went back to her place that evening, that’s one of the first things I did. I took the clock from my bag and plugged it alongside my charger, where I kept all of my things. This was in her bedroom.
We went out to dinner, sushi with beer and sake, like last time and then came back. Anna came over and we realized we were out of smoke so Brittney suggested that she take a power-nap while Anna and I went to get more. So we did. When we got back, George soon came over and we continued drinking and smoking. But Brittney still seemed tired so after an hour or two, it became clear that she needed to go to bed. George left. I assumed Anna would be spending the night so I headed out. Between the beer and the grass, I forgot the clock was still plugged in in the bedroom.
I didn’t really hear from Brittney the next week. Considering that we hang out virtually every other day and talk to each other daily, after three days of not being able to get a response from her, I started to wonder what was going on. On the rare instances when she would reply, she’d simply say she was “just chilling,” which was an odd response since she’s almost always “bored af” when she’s stuck at her house. My first thought was that she’d gotten tired of hanging out with me and just didn’t want to say that she was having more fun hanging with other people. Or maybe David (her glass-blowing friend) had made her that rig she wanted and she was just getting high as fuck. Or maybe she’d met a guy and they were having fun together. That seemed like a stretch, but I could only guess. My best guess was that she was mad at me. I kept trying to remember if I’d said something offensive or treated her badly at the BBQ. The night hadn’t ended well, but it hadn’t ended badly either so I couldn’t figure this out.
She hardly responded on New Year’s Eve. But the next day we’d made plans to go to a Bloody Mary Brunch together at Katherine & Mark’s, 2 of the 3 people that she actually clicked with at Courtney’s party. She’d asked me to get her an invite weeks ago and I had. So Sunday morning, when I asked if she was still interested, she turned it down. At that point I could no longer deny that something was wrong. I asked her if she was feeling okay or if she was mad at me or … .? I got no response.
Then that night it all came out. George texted me, angrily, with a picture of my camera-clock, essentially saying, “WTF is this spy shit doing in her bedroom?” That caught me off-guard. I hadn’t thought about the camera-clock in days. He proceeded to tell me that it had been recording her bedroom. I don’t know how long, but apparently it had been running. He demanded answers. It looked really bad for me. I’d never meant to use that camera on Brittney, but there was a camera that I put in her bedroom, that had been recording video. How else did it look? My stupid, panicked response was to stick with that lie I’d told weeks ago, that it was from my brother. I said I didn’t know it was a spy camera, that it must’ve been his idea, to get a look at the “secret girlfriend” that I never talked about. George didn’t respond after his first few statements. I could only assume that Brittney was witness to the conversation. I knew my story sounded stupid and paper-thin, but the moment to tell the truth had passed and I wasn’t thinking straight.
I couldn’t sleep at all that night. This explained why Brittney had been giving me the cold shoulder. She thought I was a peeping tom. It hurt even more that she hadn’t confronted me at all during those days. At least then I might’ve been able to explain myself directly. She must have just believed the worst and cut me out of her life. After a few hours of dwelling on it, I realized I had to tell the truth if there was any chance of repairing this. So early that morning I sent her what I’ve written here, with this preface and ending.
******
I told you a white lie two weeks ago that has led to this moment. And in a moment of panic last night I maintained that lie. This accident was all my fault, but you paid for it and I’m so very sorry for that. I lied to you because I was ashamed and I caused you unimaginable pain, so I don’t deserve a chance to explain myself but I want you to know the truth.
I got the camera-clock not to watch you, but to watch my students. I got it the day … [etc.]
… I’ve been up all night thinking about what you must’ve been going through the past few days and I couldn’t hold onto that lie any more. Of course, at this point you may not believe a damned thing I say any more. And I have to accept that.
I can never apologize enough for what this has done to you Brittney.

******
I know I should’ve told her the truth at the very beginning, or if I was doing something I was ashamed of, then I never should’ve bought it to begin with. Or I never should’ve left it at her place. Or I should’ve told the truth when George confronted me. Any of those choices could’ve averted this disaster.
It’s crushing me to be losing my closest friend. I told her the truth, or sent her the truth at least, three days ago. She hasn’t responded. If I had told her the truth from the beginning, we wouldn’t be here but I was trying to hide something else I was ashamed of. And now that white lie has grown into something even worse than the truth would’ve been.

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