5 comments

Submitted on 03/30/2020

Categories: General

It’s too late now. You’re already here. Just get out of the car. 

Seriously. 

Remember when breaking up with people was easy? 

Remember when it was just information passed in a note between classes?  

Just walk over there. You picked this spot. 

Why did you pick this spot? Why are you meeting in a park? 

Oh, that’s right - the second date thing. 

Jesus.

You should’ve known this relationship was doomed from the start. Who plans a break-up on their second date?

“If we ever break-up, we should do it somewhere that means something to us. That way, we’ll know we really want to end it. It’s hard to end something when you’re sitting somewhere sentimental.”

Walk slowly. Don’t seem eager. 

You're a little eager though, aren't you? I mean, hasn’t this been a long time coming? You’ve been planning this for two...three months now. 

Why are you doing this? You need to remember. 

Yes, there were good times. The weekend away in the mountains was nice. He’s always been good at that sort of thing - planning surprises. Remember the birthday? God. How did he manage to get everyone to show up? They don’t even return your calls most of the time. 

Keep walking.

It’s a nice evening.

Why are you breaking-up with him? 

Is it the water bottle thing? Surely you have something else.

I know he leaves water bottles everywhere, but that seems like a relatively easy fix - maybe a conversation or two. 

No. Don’t do that. Don’t rationalize. 

Is it the snoring? Ear plugs are cheap…

The sex. 

The sex is horrible. He flops around like a fish out of water. He always pulls out and shoots it into your face - you’ll probably lose sight in that eye. And the way he talks…

“Is this good? Does this feel good? Tell me what feels good. Please. Please say anything. I know this feels good. It feels so good.” 

Who is he trying to convince? 

Where did you say you’d meet? The bench by the bathrooms? Or the one on the other side of the park, near the softball fields? 

It’s more than the sex.

Remember the night your best friend died? 

He didn’t even return your calls - it was “boy’s night.” 

The next day he said he was sorry, and he brought over all that food…

But it’s a pattern, isn’t it? 

His needs always come first. His priorities supersede yours. 

She died in a car accident. When they told the story on the local news that night and you sat there flinching, he didn’t even bat an eye. He was on his phone. 

The phone. 

Is it glued to his hand? Does he share a brain with it? It’s always going off - work call, friend call, mom call. 

Is it normal for a man to talk to his mom that much? You don’t even call yours anymore. 

The bathroom bench is empty. Must be the one on the other side. 

You guys have been together for almost two years now - has he ever brought up marriage? 

No. 

Kids? 

No. 

Your genes aren’t that detestable, are they? I mean, your nose is a little crooked...and those teeth…

Stop it. 

Remember why the park is so sentimental? 

This is where he made it official. You guys had been seeing each other for four months. He asked you to meet him here. 

“Now everytime you come to the park, you’ll remember the night I made you my girlfriend.” 

It would’ve been a sweet gesture - if you hadn’t cheated on him the night before. 

Does that really count as cheating, though? 

He would say it does, but only because it works in his favor. 

You fucked your ex - everyone does it. 

At least you had an orgasm. 

Keep walking.

Just because you fucked your ex-boyfriend the night before he asked you to be his girlfriend - it doesn’t mean you don’t have every right to end this. 

The six-month thing.

Remember how he made a huge deal out of your six month anniversary and got upset because you couldn’t make it to the dinner reservations he made? Your grandma was sick - in the hospital - and he said, “I guess you aren’t as serious about this as I thought you were.” 

He went to the restaurant alone and brought home all those leftovers. 

He left them in the fridge until they started to mold, just so you’d see them every time you opened the door. 

You can't forget the week-long fight.

It was a little over a year in, and you went out with your girlfriends and he was upset you didn’t call him while you were out. 

You called him when you got home, around midnight, but he didn’t pick up. 

He didn’t answer the next day either, did he? 

He cold-shouldered you for two days. 

When he finally came over, he said, “I hope you liked how that felt - it was exactly how I felt when you were off with Kendra and what's-her-face and couldn’t be bothered to give me a goddamn phone call from the bar so I would know you were safe.” 

“But I texted you. And I tried to call you as soon as I got home.” you said. 

“God, Elizabeth, it’s like you don’t even give a shit.” 

You guys fought for the rest of the week. By the end of it, you were apologizing to him. 

You always apologize.

I’m not saying you don’t have a backbone, but you can’t always be wrong. 

There he is. 

God, he looks smug. 

Keep remembering.

Last month - the “mystery caller.”

Only drug dealers and cheaters take calls at 2 a.m. in another room. 

You asked him about it.

“Do I go through your phone, Liz? Do I ask about every call you take?”

He does, but you didn’t mention it. 

Is love supposed to cut you off at the knees? Make you smaller? Does love mean taking up less space to give someone else more? 

Has he always looked that way? Disenchanted? 

One foot in front of the other.

Are you such a catch yourself? 

I don’t want to go down that slippery-slope, but it’s a legitimate question.

You lie - a lot. 

You cheated - sort of.

You don’t tell him secrets.

You don’t open up to him about your feelings. 

You didn’t tell him about the baby. 

Fuck.

The baby. 

When that test read “positive,” you fell apart - right there in the middle of the Wal-Mart bathroom because you didn’t want to take it at home.

The lady in the stall next to yours asked if you were alright between the squelches of her shit hitting the water. 

You said you were fine.

You stayed in there for almost an hour, trying to figure out what to do - how to tell him. You knew he was going to be mad. You could hear him.

“I thought you were on the pill, Liz. I mean, seriously? Fuck. This isn’t what either of us needs right now.”  

Shouldn’t he have noticed? 

Don’t pregnant women give off a certain smell? Shouldn’t the nausea have tipped him off? 

Could you imagine having a child right now? With him? 

You had it all set up though. You were going to tell him here - at the park.

You almost fooled yourself into being excited.

There was so much blood. 

You guys don’t live together, so you had time to clean it up. It took two days to get the tile white again. 

You didn’t tell him - you didn’t tell anybody.

You held it together, but you cried at dinner a few weeks later. Just out of the blue. He was confused and agitated - said you were making a scene.

You said you had a long day at work. 

He said, “Why can’t you leave that shit at the door?” 

It would have had your nose anyway. 

Pause. Take a breath. 

He hasn’t noticed you yet - he’s on his phone. 

He’s actually kind of cute when he’s focused like that…

Is this really what you want? 

How much longer do you want to date?

People talk it up so much, but it’s not fun. It’s a shit show. 

Sure, getting to know someone can be exciting, but then what? 

Then you end up here. Walking through the park. On the way to break-up after almost two years because of water bottles and snoring and lackluster sex and dead babies.

Divorce rates are sky-high, so marriage is essentially just dating with lawyers on retainer. 

What’s your plan? You break-up with him, and then? Date? Stay single? 

Is he really so bad? 

Turn around. Regroup. Catch your breath. 

You wanted this. 

New Year’s Eve. 

The New Year’s Eve party a few months ago was the first time you thought, “Maybe this isn’t working.” 

He was standing there, chatting up one of your friends with that glazed-over look in his eye that he gets when he’s really only listening to respond, not because he actually gives a shit. You’ve seen that look quite a few times, haven’t you? 

Anyway, he’s standing there, bored, and you’re on the other side of the room, looking at him. 

He’s smiling, and it’s clear your friend doesn’t realize he’s being patronizing. 

And that pit formed in the middle of your stomach - that rock-hard, convulsing pit.

You felt sick.

You stood there, in the bathroom mirror while everyone counted down the last ten seconds, and said, out loud, “Isn’t there something better than this?” 

And it wasn’t because he was being patronizing. It wasn’t because of the baby. It wasn’t because of the fight. 

It was because the idea of spending the rest of your life trying to make yourself important to him seemed like pure torture. 

Remember the first time he told you he loved you, in bed, after a round of awful sex? 

You said it back without thinking. 

But for the next few days, you felt off.

You felt uncomfortable. You felt cheated. 

You knew this wasn't love.

It’s felt like this whole relationship has been part of some script, hasn’t it? 

Like you’re both just parroting lines you’ve heard other people say? Like there’s a checklist and you’re both ticking off boxes? 

So you knew he didn’t mean it when he told you he loved you - you knew it was just another box to check - but you said it back because you needed to mark it off of your list, too. 

You’re just as bad as he is. 

Go over there.

He’s made you a worse person. 

He looks frustrated. 

Good. 

He should be. 

Keep going. 

He’s checking his watch. He’s just being pretentious. He knows what time it is. He just likes to be seen. 

And he likes when you aren’t. 

If you stay, he’ll keep overshadowing you until you’re not even a person anymore. 

He noticed you - the frustrated look is starting to melt. 

You want this.

He’s smiling. 

When’s the last time you really felt cared about in this relationship? When’s the last time you haven’t felt like a malfunctioning prop? 

God. 

He has perfect teeth. 

Closer.

His nose is straight. 

He’s standing up. 

Has he always been this tall? 

Don’t let him get a word in. Once you start, you have to keep going. 

“Liz! I was starting to think you were standing me up.”

Water bottles. 

“No, I just got a little lost is all." 

Snoring. 

“You would think after all the times we’ve been here, you’d have this place memorized by now.” 

Sex.

“Yeah, you would think so, huh?” 

This is exactly what needs to happen.

“It’s such a nice evening, though, isn’t it? I love the park this time of year. And I’m glad you chose the benches back here. I like the walk.”

Breathe.

“It is nice. I really needed the walk.”

The baby.

“So, what brought this on? I thought we were having dinner later this week.”

Sit down. 

“Well, I just think we need to talk -” 

“Yes, you’re right. We do.” 

Don’t let him interrupt.

“I just have some things I need to say, and I thought -”

You don’t love him - say it.

“I don’t think this is working for me, Liz. I’m sorry to cut you off like that. I know we’ve had some good times… But, this thing we’re doing… It’s just…”

Exhale. 

“Are you breaking-up with me?”

Why does it hurt? 

“I think we both know it’s for the best.” 

Don’t. 

“I just -”

Cry.

“Liz, come on. Don’t beg. You’re better than this. You’ve been dumped before. You know how this goes.” 

Speak up.

“But, there are some things I need to say, too.” 

Tell him the idea that he’s the best you’ll ever have keeps you awake at night - terrified and crying into your pillow. 

“And you will. I promise. I’ll listen to all of it.”

His eyes are glazing over. 

“I mean, I haven’t really been happy, either. And, honestly -”

His phone is ringing.

“Oh shit. Liz. I have to take this. It’ll only be a second. Just wait right here. I want to hear this.” 

He doesn’t.

He’s walking off. 

Stand up. 

That doesn’t sound like a work call - does it? 

Walk. 

Don’t look at him. 

He won’t even notice. 

Go back to your car. 

It’s over. 

Just like before - one foot in front of the other. 

It’s easier now, isn’t it? You feel lighter?

Like someone just unchained a boulder from your ankle?

Breathe. 

He was right - it is a good evening for a walk. 

Especially a walk alone. 

 






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5 comments

Melanie Stark
18:10 Apr 04, 2020

Great story! I'm a big fan of your work.

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Ginny Ivy
02:33 May 07, 2020

I really like how this one is written. It’s like you picked thoughts out of my head from my horrible marriage that I didn’t want to be in but somehow kept being in. Such a relatable piece of work.

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Joey Carroll
21:29 Apr 19, 2020

Amazing storytelling. An excellent depiction of all the thoughts that pass through someone’s, and my, brain when considering breaking things off.

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Skye Hanson
05:16 Apr 08, 2020

Wow, this is so amazing! The way she thinks is super relatable, too! Great work!

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Elizabeth Bohr
01:26 Apr 05, 2020

I love everything about this.

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