Mood: Emotional Hangover
Drinking: Ruby’s Tasty Chai
This one is for Anna.
She calls four times.
The cell phone.
The home phone.
And finally, she leaves a message.
“It’s me,” she says.
(caller ID beat her to it.)
She clears her throat.
She exhales smoke.
“Call me back when you get this,” she says.
“I don’t care what time. Just
can you please call me tonight?”
Her voice sounds funny.
Is she crying or just
smoking too much?
I wait for dinner and the Daily Show
before I call her back. (I didn’t
really think it was an emergency.)
She answers on the second ring and
I know then she was crying.
“My worst nightmare,” she says.
“He left me,” she says.
“He left me for some other girl.”
Her voice sounds dull.
She tells me the seven-day
breakdown of the breakup
that started and ended on a Tuesday.
He started doing this
and then he acted like that
and “she” showed up and
it just kept getting worse.
I’ve retreated to my bedroom by now.
Shut out the comfortable noise of
my own security. Husband. Dog. TV.
I tell her I’m so sorry this happened.
I call him all kinds of names.
I say I’ll kick his ass and
scratch his eyes out.
I swear I’ll cut his balls off
and feed them to my dog.
It’s what you say, when you’re a friend.
It’s what you say when he turns out
to be the asshole you were afraid he might be
all along. It’s what you say, and you know
you don’t have to actually do it. But you
sure as hell better mean it.
And I do.
(He may not have been
my kind of guy
but he was hers.
He was hers, and that’s what matters.)
She was just here, last month.
We sat in this very room.
She was just here and
she was so happy. Her
voice was lilting.
It was her first trip
to the Pacific but
when she saw the water
all blue to the very horizon
she said she wished he could see it, too.
So she wrote his name in the sand
and took a picture to prove he was there.
We walked all over Chinatown
to find him the perfect jade dragon.
Bright green and growling.
It’s gone now, she says.
“I made him take it.”
She’s pacing around her house now.
I can picture the tiny rooms
so perfectly in my head. She’s
standing in the living room,
counting DVDs. “He left one of his movies here,”
she tells me. “The Score.
It’s a guy movie. I don’t want it.”
I’m not saying much now.
I’m picking at the fuzz on my bedspread
and wishing I knew how to comfort her better.
Wish I could wave a wand to make it all go away.
(I wished the same thing in sixth grade
in the funeral home. But
I couldn’t work magic for her then, either.)
So I sit here with her, two thousand miles away.
I let her go on with her lists. I let her get it all out.
She goes through the games to see what’s gone missing.
“I can’t believe it,” she says.
“He took Tetris. He took Tetris!”
(But I know it’s not Tetris she really
She tells me her son cried when
he said he was leaving. He cried “No, No, No!”
(I mutter curses in the x’s general direction
and think about hunting him down.)
And her daughter, she just said
nothing at all. But she cooked her mom dinner.
“I couldn’t eat it. I can’t eat anything.
But I think I’ve smoked
a whole pack since he left,” she says.
He just left a few hours ago.
He took his clothes, his shoes.
He took his toolbox, but
her screwdriver was in it.
He kept saying he was sorry,
he was sorry. So sorry.
He went down to the basement
and took his bike away.
He took his movies and games.
His collection of beer bottles, too,
even the one she and I bought
just down the street from here.
The San Francisco beer.
“He took his pillow, too.”
She’s in the bedroom now,
but she can hardly look at the bed.
“What he doesn’t know is that I’ve
been crying into that pillow for the last
five days,” she laughs but her voice
sounds bitter. Broken. Numb.
“He’ll sleep on my tears,” she says softly.
“I wonder if I should tell him that.”
-Lo, who wears boots big enough to kick that guy’s ass in real life, if given the opportunity!