On Monday morning, I woke up without you. I showered, running the water a little bit because you didn’t like to go in unless it had warmed up enough, and made breakfast—scrambled eggs and toasted hash brown patties, set before two places. I called work and took the day off and sat by the window and read The Picture of Dorian Gray all afternoon, looking up every time footsteps passed the door. Dinner was for two—rigatoni in meat sauce with sautéed pea pods, an unopened bottle of 2005 Merlot next to an empty bottle that I filled with a candle. Three hours later, the candle snuffed itself out, and I fell asleep waiting for you. I dreamed myself in your arms with nothing between us but our breath.
On Thursday, I couldn’t stand the thought of you. I got home from second shift at the Wegmans and gathered all our pictures and stuffed them into a mason jar and lit the crumpled mess on fire. As the photos burned, I focused on how much better off I was. How I never needed you. How glad I was now that I didn’t have to worry about how we were going to move to Memphis. How I finally had the freedom to be comfortable in my own life without having to make yours come first. The flickering jar seared afterimages into my eyes, but at least I wouldn’t have to hear my parents talk about how wonderful it was that you were moving on up so quickly and how impressed they were with you and wasn’t it great that I finally had someone in my life to give me the push I always needed and wasn’t that just fantastic? When the flames died, I flung the jar of ashen waste at the television. It missed and hit the wall instead and shattered into too many pieces. I sat and cried until I passed out, dreamless.
On Saturday, I needed to change things. I wished I knew how you so easily won over my parents or employers or our landlord or any stranger that you met while I couldn’t ever get along with anybody except you or our minister—and it was his job to get along with people, so he didn’t even count. I resented that you were so good at everything and so patient and kind with me while I was awful and spiteful to you and maybe you just had enough of my not wanting to move and maybe you just had enough of me. I wondered if I might have been half the person you were, if I might have been able to keep this nightmare from happening. And then I looked through your things and wondered how you could leave any of this wonderful stuff behind or leave me behind, and maybe you’d come back for these things and maybe even come back for me. I watched two of your movies, Casablanca and Chasing Amy, hoping something could take my mind off of you. I put your old Nintendo up for sale online.
On Monday, I didn’t get up at all. I simply stared at the ceiling, wishing for something that I didn’t think I even really wanted. I didn’t mind when the bottle missed my lips and Merlot stained the pillows. I didn’t check to see if anyone bid on the Nintendo, and I didn’t really care if they had, and I didn’t really know why I did it, and I didn’t really know why I did anything at all. So instead, I drifted in and out of sleep, awakening each time I saw your face as you died over and over or ran a knife through my chest or made love to someone else or married me in that theater we’d dreamed about.
And tomorrow? Who knows. Everyone tells me it’s time to accept that you’re…but no. I won’t. And I can’t. Because this doesn’t end without me in your arms. In this life, or the next, or whatever comes after.