Lenses

Dave opened his laptop, navigated to Reddit, and started to type.

AITA for asking my girlfriend to reshoot her photos?

Posted to r/AmItheAsshole by NewsBoyThrowaway22 on June 17, 2019 | 7:32PM

So I (26M) work with my girlfriend Willa (24F) at a local arts and entertainment magazine in our city in the Midwest. I’m a writer and she’s a photographer. We’ve been together for about a year, and she recently moved into my apartment. Even though everyone warned me about mixing business with pleasure, everything was going well. Until last week.

She and I had been assigned to work together on an article. The topic is the local music scene with a specific focus on an up and coming band. We went to one of their shows, and she took photos while I took notes. This is how we’ve worked together in the past, so nothing seemed weird at first.

One of the guys in the band, Terry, is the lead guitarist and is a friend of hers from college. From what I gather, they had some mutual friends and sort of flirted but never ended up hooking up. They stayed in contact over social media over the past couple years since graduation, but nothing more than that.

Last weekend, I was clicking through her photos to refresh my memory so I could start the article, when I noticed most of them were of Terry. Terry with his shirt off and muscles glistening under the stage lights. Terry looking down at Willa and into the camera. Terry smiling. All of them pretty much were of him, and she took over 300 photos.

I didn’t say anything right away since she was over my shoulder making comments about the photos, which only made it worse. She was saying things like, “I just love the lighting on this one. It makes him look angelic.” I was just getting angrier and angrier. Not only was she blatantly harboring some old feelings for the guy, but she didn’t give me anything I could use for the article.

I think she could sense something was wrong so she asked what I thought of them, and I said they were fine. She asked again, and I told her I wished they were more diverse. She asked what I meant, and I think I said something like, “I need pictures of everyone in the band from all different lighting, angles, and lenses. Not just one person.”

She got super defensive and said, “I couldn’t take as many as I liked. I told you that my camera’s battery died.” 

So I said, “But you wouldn’t have had this problem if you would’ve just taken more pictures of the others right from the start. Not sure why you took so many of Terry anyway.”

She was quiet for a while and just left the living room, and then she spent the rest of the night in the bedroom. When I went to bed, she was on her phone texting someone and wouldn’t look at me. 

The next morning I apologized and told her I shouldn’t have said that and it was OK, she could just reshoot them when they play another show. She agreed, accepted my apology, and now we’re going back to see them play tonight.

I kind of feel like a jerk for saying anything, but at the same time, I feel like I have a valid point. So Reddit, Am I the Asshole for asking my girlfriend to reshoot the photos?

Satisfied that his post was accurate Dave closed the browser to his computer and looked up when he heard the bedroom door open. Willa stood before him, looking more dressed up than he’d seen her in a long time. Her dark blonde hair–usually in a ponytail–hung in long waves. She sported a leather jacket over a dress that accentuated her curves. She looked gorgeous, but she didn’t usually go to jobs this decked out. 

“Camera is fully charged this time!” she beamed. “Don’t worry, I’m going to get some great shots.”

He stood up and grabbed his jacket. “I know you will, babe.”

She looked at him in confusion. “Are you coming? The article is due tomorrow morning. You should probably stay here and finish it.”

He stepped into his shoes to hide the bristle at her objection. “It’ll be okay. I’ll start on it later on tonight.”

“You need to get this done. Stay home and start it, okay?” 

“Is there a reason why you’re insisting that I stay home?” he asked suspiciously.

“God, why are you so paranoid all the time? Can I not just go somewhere without you as my escort?” she said in disgust. “I’m not utterly hopeless! I’ve been to a million shows before, by myself.”

His frustration boiled over. “Why, so you can marvel at Terry’s muscles and tattoos and sweat without having me hang around and cramp your style?” He knew he shouldn’t have said it, but it felt good to let it out.

She grabbed her purse and turned her back on him. “I don’t have to take this.”

She put her hand on the doorknob but Dave was quicker. He put his hand over hers. “Wait,” he said softly. “Please, don’t leave angry at me. I’m sorry. I’ll stay home if you really want me to.”

Her blue eyes locked on his and he hated how full of hurt they were. “I really think you should get your article done. And if you’re going to project your insecurities all night, then I think it’s better that you stay here.”

Dave’s insecurity had gotten the better of him in the past, and he promised her he would work on it. This felt like a test of trust. Willa hadn’t given him a reason not to trust her. Except for the photos. And whoever she was texting all last night. 

“You’re right. I’ll stay here,” he said. “But be careful, alright?”

She smiled. “I will. Terry will be there, so I won’t be alone.”

He took her in his arms and wrapped her in a hug. When they pulled away, he kissed her, a long and lingering kiss to remind her of his love. To remind himself that she loved him, too. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. Don’t stay up too late and get the article done!” she said before she stepped out into the night.

 

##

 

Dave looked at the clock on his computer. It was nearly 1 AM and Willa still hadn’t made it back. Fighting the urge to pick up his phone, he turned to his work. The article was poorly written, but it was difficult to concentrate with his girlfriend out doing God knows what with Terry. The Reddit replies poured in, and he’d taken too many breaks to read them. The resounding answer was “YTA,” which meant that he was, in fact, an asshole, but he still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off.

Just as he was contemplating his next sentence (he only had to finish the last paragraph), Willa’s Google Photos account alert pinged on her desktop computer in the corner. She must’ve set her camera up to sync to it, which meant all the photos she took tonight were there.

He knew he shouldn’t do this, but he needed to look. He had to know if he was being ridiculous. So he left his laptop and sat at her desk. He typed in the password– their anniversary–with his heart pounding in anticipation.

After a few seconds, the pictures loaded on the screen. He clicked the first one and recognized Jake the bassist, leaning over the bass guitar with his hair in his face. Dave tried not to let this faze him, and he clicked the arrow to get the next picture. The one that followed was of Terry, focusing on his right forearm, which was bulging, covered in tattoos, and straining to reach the strings on his Gibson. The next picture was of Jake again, this time leaning back with his chest out, t-shirt stretched tightly over his pectorals, stage lighting reflecting off of his silver necklace.

Dave didn’t want to see the rest. He had seen more than he needed to see. He picked up his phone. It rang several times before he got her voicemail. He tried again. Still no answer. He rose from the desk as all of his strategic reasoning left his body. He was running off of pure anger by the time he reached the car. As he drove, he dialed Willa’s phone number repeatedly.

On the seventh try Dave heard something on the other end. He could hear laughter and music, but no distinct voices. “Hello?” he shouted into the phone. “Willa? Hello?”

He heard a male voice chuckle. “Hey man, quit calling her. She doesn’t want to talk to you.”

“Who is this?” Dave yelled. “Hello?”

Dave heard another giggle. “Willa? Willa, talk to me please. I need to know where you are.”

There was a faint click on the other end and the call was gone. Dave’s fury grew. It bubbled in his stomach and rose in his esophagus, making his breathing more ragged as he continued to call Willa’s number in hopes that he would get an answer. 

Dave arrived at the place where the band was playing. It was called Haddie’s and was one of the most up and coming nightclubs in the city. It took him a few minutes to find parking, but when he got there he stormed past the doorman and tore the door open.

Inside was a scene that reminded him of all the bars he frequented in college. There were people everywhere, and he especially noticed all the men wearing leather or ripped jeans and drinking hard liquor. Smoke filled the club and death metal assaulted Dave’s ears. He squinted and searched the doorway for a sign of Willa or one of the members of Terry’s band, but he spotted no one. 

Dave moved through the crowd of drunken patrons, pushing them off of him and out of his way. With each step his anger grew more and more overwhelming. By the time he saw Terry he was sure that he would rip him apart.

“Terry!” he bellowed over the music as he poked Terry’s back.

Terry whirled around and smiled. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes were glazed. “Hey man,” he slurred. “What’s up?”

“Where’s Willa?” Dave asked, trying to sound calm.

“I don’t know where she went.” Terry turned to the person next to him that Dave recognized as the singer. “Hey have you seen Willa? Dave’s looking for her.”

The singer looked at Dave and shook his head. “She was with Jake over in the hallway by the bathroom door.”

Dave swallowed hard and clenched his fists. His fingernails dug into his palms and nearly drew blood. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I saw them a few minutes ago,” the singer answered.

Without another word, Dave charged over to the hallway, scanning the dance floor as he went by. He didn’t see Willa, nor did he catch sight of her by the bathroom door. Just as he was about to turn the knob and walk into the bathroom, Dave felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around and found himself facing Jake the bassist.

“Hey man,” Jake said, smiling like he was innocent. “What’s up? Willa said you were home writing your article. You missed our set.”

Dave arched his back and stuck his chest out. “Where is she?”

Jake laughed. “You good, bro?”

“Where is she?” Dave demanded again, louder this time.

Jake held up his hands. “Calm down, man.”

“Tell me where Willa is.” Dave was shaking. He started to cock his fist when Jake reached out and grabbed his wrist. 

“Listen, dude,” Jake began, “I don’t know where she is. It’s not my fault that you can’t find her. Maybe if you weren’t always accusing her of cheating on you, she’d be with you right now.”

Dave felt like his entire body would burst into flames. He started to jerk his hand away from Jake’s grip but stopped as Jake applied more pressure. “Don’t even think about it or I’ll drop your ass before the cops can get here. Go home.”

Jake pushed Dave away and walked into the bathroom, locking the door behind him. Dave slammed his fist on the door and turned around to leave. Outside, he caught sight of a blonde head floating in the darkness down the street. He ran toward it, and the closer he got the more sure he felt.

A cigarette dangled from Willa’s mouth and her jacket was tied around her waist. Dave grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. “What the hell?” she shouted in surprise. “Oh God. You scared me!”

“What the hell have you been doing? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!” he screamed, not caring who heard or what she would do.

She took a long draw from her cigarette and threw the rest of it on the ground. “What are you doing here?”

He shook his head in disgust. “Come on. We’re going home.”

She followed him back to the car, walking behind him a few paces. As he drove, he fought every primal urge in his body that told him to pull over and kick her out. “So how was the show?” he asked sarcastically.

“I don’t know what is wrong with you,” she said, closing her eyes and leaning against the headrest.

He pulled into the driveway and killed the engine. He turned to her again and had to remind himself to stay calm. “Tell me the truth.”  

“About what?” she asked, still not looking at him.

“About who you hooked up with.” 

She turned her gaze to her lap as if there were answers to be found there. “I didn’t hook up with anyone.” 

“So why were you with Jake by the bathrooms?” He hoped the detail would catch her off guard.

Willa looked at him with tears in her eyes. “I wish you would just trust me, Dave. I wish you would think better of me.”

Anger bubbled again, frothing out in uncontrollable waves. “How can I? I knew this would happen. I knew it!”

“You never have any faith in me. You always treat me like I’m some stupid, childish whore,” she began sobbing. “I didn’t cheat on you!”

Dave sighed. “How do I know that?”

She cried harder, the sound digging into the silence of the car. Dave tried to ignore her. No matter what she said there was no way he was going to take any blame for it. He got out and slammed the door, leaving her alone in the car. As he walked into their apartment, he contemplated locking her out and telling her to leave.

Their place was eerily quiet. The sun was just beginning to poke its head over the horizon and trickle into their living room through the blinds. He sat down on the couch and put his head in his hands, letting exhaustion hit him as he heard her enter and close the door. He felt the couch move as she took a seat beside him. She was washed out in the gray morning light, like a ghost of the Willa that he used to know.

“This is over,” she said in a shaken voice, eyes watering as she stared off into the distance. “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” 

“Can’t we just work through this?” he asked, more to himself than her.

“You have such low expectations of me,” she laughed humorlessly, “and now you get to live with that.”

“Willa, no. Just wait, please–”

She backed away from his outstretched hand and stood up. “I deserve more than this.” She rested her eyes on him, letting the silence and the seconds linger. “And so do you. Work on yourself. Get some therapy.”

He stood too, desperate to hold onto her, to reach her. “If you stay, we can go to therapy together. We can get through this!”

She shook her head. “It’s not my job to rehabilitate you.” She stepped to the door. “I hope you figure it out, but it won’t be with me.”

The sound of the door clicking shut echoed through the apartment, then Dave was alone.

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