Tag Archives: breaking up

Stitches

stitches

 

I wake up to him kissing my neck and running his hand between my thighs. I sigh and turn my head to kiss him. He needs a shave, but I’m too distracted to tell him that. And besides, I like the stubble. I’m tempted to tell him to let me sleep another hour, but he runs his fingernails along my stomach, and I come alive against him.

Eventually I turn over and pull him close, careful to keep the injured finger clear of his writhing back. Kissing his shoulder, I can see the bruised, stitched flesh, torn and marred, in heavy contrast to his smooth tan skin.

***

I would have really appreciated it if she’d told me sooner I was losing her. I knew we were going to break up, but I couldn’t have gauged how vicious she was going to be about it.

We’d been getting along lately, though, so I guess I misinterpreted that as a reconciliation. In hindsight it was pretty clearly just a cease-fire.

She was doing her makeup in the bathroom. She was naked, her hair fresh and dry, and before I jumped in the shower I came up behind her and kissed her neck. My hands slid along the curve of her hip.

“Get the fuck off me!” She jabbed me sharply with her elbow. Not enough to hurt, not in the body, anyway. But enough to startle me back.

“Jesus! What was that?”

“Are you trying to make me put out my goddamn eye?” she snarled. Even curled back across her teeth, her pink lips looked remarkably kissable. Eyeliner gave her a stare like sharp wire.

“Alright! I’m sorry.” I put my hands up in surrender and stepped into the shower.

“Oh, don’t sound so fuckin’ wounded.”

I didn’t answer, just started my shower. After a minute or so I heard her groan. “Turn it down! The steam is gonna fuck up my hair!”

I ignored her. I let the heat scald away my irritation with her. By the time I stepped out, she’d already left for work.

***

When he and I are finished we hold each other, our chests pressed together, me breathing heavily just behind his ear. His hair is sweaty, but when he sweats it’s with a clean, almost sterile odor. I run my fingertips against his scalp, ignoring the slight sting of my injured finger. We both need a shower. We’re clearly not done fooling around just yet.

Every so often he gives me a lazy kiss to my temple. We both doze off a few minutes. When I wake up I can feel him getting ready to go again. When Brittany got her stuff, she stripped the linens straight from the bed and threw them in the car. Soon Bobby and I are tangled in the act of consecrating the bare mattress anew.

***

“Christ, all I’m trying to do is talk to you-…”

“That’s all you fucking do. You talk about things but you never fucking do them. Goddamn, you’re boring.”

“Babe, just…”

“Just get the fuck back, alright?”

“Goddamnit,” I caught the door to the bathroom before she could close it. “Do you want us to break up or what?”

“No! I just want…”

“You don’t even fucking know what you want! All you do is endlessly bitch at me…”

She pulled the door. I tightened my grip, holding in place. Before I could say anything else, she threw her entire body into pulling it closed, grunting in anger and effort.

My finger made a dull, wet sound as it was smashed against the frame.

I remember yelling so loudly it felt like a roar. Brittany covered her mouth against the drips of blood spotting the carpet. She kissed me over and over on the forehead and told me she was taking me to the emergency room. She ran off to get dressed and grab her keys. While she was getting ready, I climbed into my own car and drove away.

I heard her come home from work around nine. I’d locked myself in my room. On the table in the kitchen, I left a note, telling her she had a day to get her stuff out. That’s all it said. Now that I think of it, I haven’t laid eyes on her since seeing her disappear into her room. This room, where Bobby and I are now.

***

When Bobby gets out of the shower I’ve set up a tray with toast and eggs. A carafe of coffee is on the desk I moved in here yesterday.

Bobby dries his hair. “God, I love you.”

He says it lightly, and I pretend not to notice him gauging me with his eyes. Seeing how I’ll react.

Oh, no.

His phone vibrates again. Text from Mark: “Hey babe. Flying back in tomorrow.”

Bobby tosses the towel over the curtain rod. He pours coffee without getting dressed. I take in the sight of him, and run my thumb along the stitches in my finger.

Maybe he’s sincere, but two days into this I’d prefer it if he wasn’t. I never touched him before Brittany left. Never thought of it.

While he stands there I contemplate going to him, kissing his body, going further and further until he’s against the wall and shuddering above me. I think about him trying to do that with Mark, a man almost twenty years older. Always tired, always busy, always out of the house when Bobby gets home. Maybe Bobby does love me. But he also can’t.

Bobby types something into his phone while he drinks his coffee. He winks at me while he sips from the mug. The tip of my left middle finger is deep blue and purple. Between the stitches I can see the skin beginning to heal. The flesh is smashed and shredded, but still it comes together.

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Pomegranates

pomegranate

 

“I think we should break up.”

“Seconded,” he told her, juggling three pomegranates. Nimbly he stuck two back into their crate and set the other in their cart.

“What?”

“I agree. We should break up. That’s, uh…” he swept his hand across the cart. “That’s what this was for. Although I guess now we don’t have to go through the hassle of checkout. You feel like Arby’s?”

“Wait. You wanted to break up too?”

“Well, we’ve been over for awhile now. It’s only just recently become clear to me this isn’t a hump we’re going to get over.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean…wait, what do you mean what do I mean? You just said you wanted to break up with me too. I was there, remember?”

What hump?”

“The fact that we don’t love each other anymore. Or rather that you don’t love me. I think I might still love you, though. I mean, I could just be fixated, but I think I still love you.”

“And you want to break up anyway?”

“Well yeah. Did you miss the part where I said you don’t love me?”

She was quiet at that part. Almost seemed ashamed. “I’m sorry.”

He just shrugged. “That’s how these things end. One of us stops loving the other. I mean, we weren’t in love when we started out.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you told me, the year we became exclusive, that you realized you were in love with me right after New Year. I didn’t have that thought about you till the summer.”

“So we were together almost half a year, and you didn’t love me?”

“Sometimes love just grows. I figured it would with me. Guess I figured right.”

“That’s awfully cynical.”

“Nope. I said love, remember?”

“Stop saying that! Stop saying remember like you’re mocking me!”

“I’m sorry. That was pretty shitty of me just now.” He looked her in the eye. “I’m sincerely sorry. My…feelings are hurt, and I was sublimating it by being a douche bag, I guess. I really am sorry.”

“But you said you wanted to break up.”

“I agreed we should break up.”

“You were planning to break up with me tonight.”

“And pack my things in the morning. I know. It doesn’t mean I’m not so petty that being dumped first doesn’t hurt.”

He had a small fantasy of just tilting the cart over and dumping everything on her sparkling ballet flats. He was somewhat comforted by the surge of guilt he felt when the imagery passed. She reciprocated with a fantasy of her own, a simple one where she beat her fists against the back of his head, until the smugness was replaced with a pitiful beg for her to please stop hurting him.

But was that what he was saying already?

“Plus, I’m still in love with you, like I said.”

How much were they not saying to each other? How much had gone unsaid in the three years they’d been together?

They were still standing by the fucking pomegranates. Those things always took so much work to peel and eat.

“So,” and she had to stop to swallow a lump in her throat, “so what do we…Ben, I don’t wanna hurt you like this.”

“Then don’t. Dump me. Or I can dump you. Either way I should be fine, so long as we end it by tonight.”

Ben turned the cart around and nodded for Callie to follow. “I think I need some wine. We’ll feel better about this once one or both of us is drunk.”

He grabbed two bottles of the dirt cheap Merlot he always drank, then grabbed a mid-grade Moscato he knew she favored. “I’m not being a hog, I swear,” he told her, nodding to his own bottles. “The pomegranate glaze I wanna make needs to be boiled in a red.”

“Are you sure you’re still in love with me?”

“Pretty sure. But after awhile I’ll be running around somewhere, and it’ll hit me that I’m not in love with you anymore. It’s okay. That’s how it works. You fall in, you fall out.”

“Not always, though.”

“Oh, God no, not always. Only chumps get that pessimistic. Love can be forever, it just usually isn’t.”

She chewed her pinkie nail. “I should’ve ended this sooner. It wasn’t fair to you.”

“What do you mean? You been out of love with me for awhile now?”

She couldn’t think of any other way to phrase it other than: “I think so.”

“How long now? If you don’t mind me asking, I mean.”

“Like,” and she bit her lips. “Like…a long time now. I haven’t had that fluttery feeling for…years, I think.”

“Ooooh.” He paused, like he was considering something. “So not New Year, then.”

“What?”

“You weren’t in love with me on New Year’s. You had a crush on me.” He waved his hand like he was clearing smoke. “Love’s the other thing. The…the steady part that comes after. The quiet thing.”

“You don’t think I loved you?”

“No, I think you did. Longer than you think you did, anyway. You just…didn’t know which part the love was.”

There came a cold edge of certainty in her. “You’re a fucking patronizing bastard.”

“Oh, fuck you.” He sounded tired when he said it. “Do you realize how much restraint I’m showing by not climbing in the car and leaving your ass to walk?”

He imagined her walking, and again there came the guilt over how much pleasure the idea of her discomfort gave him. She imagined not talking to him as he moved his things into the U-Haul trailer. Thing was, between the two of them, her fantasy was more likely to come true.

They checked out without a word, and they were halfway home before Ben broke the silence. “Hey, look, I’m sorry for what I said.”

“I started it.”

“No, no. I had that coming. You were completely right. I was baiting you and I didn’t like that you’d caught on.” He bopped her knee. “I’m sorry. I really am.”

She glanced down at where he’d touched her. Once it would have made her breath catch, for his hand to have been so close to the hem of her skirt. Now the December night only felt cooler.

“Hey,” he said then. “Let’s just stuff our faces and get drunk. I’ll sleep on the couch. This’ll all be over by tomorrow.” He reached over and squeezed her arm above the wrist. “It’s like a band-aid, see? We just gotta do it all at once. It’ll be alright.”

They drove home, together, each heading further and further away.

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