Life After (excerpt)

I’ll start with the car ride; the one that drove me away from you. That’s when it started, where it started. Behind the wheel of my yellow Volkswagen as I made my way to a new city, a new life.

I was driving fast, despite the heavy downpour. Everyone had accused me of running when I’d told them I was going away, and for the first time since I packed my shit and left, I felt like they were right.

The only things I packed were the things I was able to fit into the tiny backseat; Scottie was in the front, of course. I think he’s what set me off, actually. Stupid Scottie and his annoying whining and the way he kept staring at me with his puppy dog eyes. Actual puppy dog eyes. How was I not supposed to break down?

I almost turned back. Instead, I pulled over and cried until the rain stopped.

***

When you told me, I broke.

Right there in front of you, I crumbled. You couldn’t see it, of course, because it all happened inside of me. Everything fell apart, every single thing.

So what difference did it make that she didn’t mean anything to you? What did that matter?

***

My apartment was small and shitty with all leaky faucets and loud neighbors that partied and fought and fucked non-stop.

I lived through them for a while. The first few months, at least. Listening to them through the thin walls was almost like a movie, and at night I’d close my eyes and put us in every scene.

I hate you! Just get out! Why are we even doing this anymore? It’s not worth it, just leave!

That was me, yelling at you. I saw myself, red-faced with rage, maybe throwing pillows from our bed at you as I told you to go. Or maybe we were in the living room, and I was throwing magazines from the coffee table, instead.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any of that stuff. I love you.

Or at least that’s what I imagined what her muffled words were as she spoke more calmly hours later. I imagined that’s what I’d say.

***

“On to the next chapter, huh?” Ma said when I told her I was leaving.

But when I’d thought of the part of my life that was you, I’d thought of it as more of a novel than just a chapter.

And when I thought of everyone after you, I compared them more to paragraphs. Some longer than others, but generally all short and sweet.

Except him. He was at least a chapter.

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