You drove out of town in a silver car that looked like all the others, on a Sunday like all the rest and I went to sleep that night and then got on with my life. You took the stereo and the blender and that bottle of champagne we’d been saving for the day I sold my first book. You left the dishes and the bills and all the reasons I didn’t love you to begin with. We had had a fight that didn’t make sense because of the way you rolled your eyes when I spoke and the way it didn’t even bother me. You broke a lamp while you stormed around gathering up shit like a vindictive teenager caught in a hurricane sized meltdown until I blew you over with one breath, just go. The lamp was my grandmother’s and the dust upon its shade meant more to me than you ever did. A statement I now wish I hadn’t said because I watched the way it moved across your face, a glow inside your veins, a dying light underneath your flesh, until it reached your chest and broke your heart in two, which was nine fewer pieces than my lamp. I counted, later, after you were gone.
“I met someone else” I said, to the wall before you got home. I was practicing for the dance we do where we pretend like the other person matters to us and we haven’t just been filling up this space in each other’s lives.
He smells like dim lighting and candles. The scent of 80s movies and something John Candy might star in. He makes me want to play mini golf or fuck on a bear skin rug. I want to record him on my VCR. I want to drive my box-cornered Volvo over to his house. I want to be a lifetime before any of this ever happened. I want to be the chapter in a book of mistakes, the one time it all worked out.
But that’s not what I say. I plan excuses like escape routes and give reasons like reinforcements.
You don’t really care about me.
We’re just wasting time with each other
When was the last time my touch even mattered?
Can you just get the fuck out already?
I sat on the couch waiting for hours long past when you should’ve been home. Long past the point when a phonecall to say baby I’m going to be late would’ve made a difference. I ate Doritos for dinner and watched reruns of Gilligan’s Island. I wondered what it would be like to be stranded. I wondered what it would be like to be deserted. I thought about what it would be like to be stranded on a deserted island with you. I immediately started packing up your things. When you still weren’t home at midnight I piled the boxes by the door and left a note on top.
It’s over. You know this.
Sometime around 3 a.m. or when I was dreaming about winning the lottery and wearing dresses made of cake, you burst in and woke me up. Stumbled around the bed, stubbed your toe on the corner, came over to my side, shoved the note in my face and slurred whatthefuckisthis? You smelled like bad decisions and weakness. You looked pathetic. But then you ripped off the covers and all my sympathy was swallowed hard.
I jumped up, chest puffed out, ready for things to get blurry. Is it wrong that my first thought was I could take you if I have to?
But there was no fight to be had. You sat down on the bed, in the warm empty spot my body had just left behind. You sighed a few times, like you were trying to get a grip. You wanted to know why? Face in your hands, rubbing your eyes and you wanted to know why I was calling it quits.
Because I hate you.
Because I’m aging at warp speed in your presence.
Because you make my face hurt.
Because I want to matter more than a placemat: a space to put your food, your heart, your dick.
Because I want love.
Because I want someone else.
“Because I don’t love you,” I say, “anymore.”
You interrupt, “or ever?”
You ask it like a question wearing a safety vest, full of trepidation, afraid of the answer because though you’re just guessing, you have a pretty good sense that you’re right and you already regret asking.
“Or ever,” I sigh in admission.
“You bitch,” you spit and get up from the bed; I turn to go into the other room. You grab my hand, my arm, my waist. Jerk me close against your body, look down at my face.
“I hate you”
“I know,” I say, “you’ll get over it.”
Your face expands into a smirk, and then just as quickly deflates, your warm breath upon my cheeks. Your hand eases up around my arm, runs its fingers up my back, and finds a home in my hair. Your palm presses against my scalp, fingers wildly searching for anchors in my curls. Forearm, bicep, your entire body tenses. You pull my face up to yours, hard, and kiss me. Search my mouth with your tongue for our future, come up empty. I let you have this one moment. You make a noise that sounds a bit like a hiccup, blink frantically and push me away.
“Fuck you,” you say, “I’m taking the microwave.”