Part 1: You discover your lover’s email by accident. You aren’t sneaking — it’s addressed to you after all, even though it’s still lingering in the drafts folder. How are you not supposed to look at something for you? How do you ignore a message with a subject like Us?
I have been thinking about leaving.
You’re frozen to the computer chair. Your bare legs slowly paste themselves onto the warm vinyl upholstery. You bought the chair together on an excursion to a big box store where you weighed the pros and cons of ergonomic furniture. You both decided to go for the one on sale. Now there is always an ache between your shoulder blades after a long day of writing.
Lately, it has become too difficult to envision our future. I know some of this is for my own personal reasons, but an unavoidable part of this decision is knowing that the problems exist, they are deep, and they are complicated. And I don’t think I want to stick around and experience the pain first-hand.
I know you will say these problems stem from your past, from your long history of mistreatment, before me, before us. You’ll say that together we have to be part of our solution. And I want to be hopeful. But right now, I feel when it comes to our future, there may not be a lot to be excited about. And if you really wanted to keep me around, you’d recognize this. You’d make it a point to give me some hope.
And when we’ve tried to get down to it—hash out a possible solution—you are so goddamn stubborn. I love you, but your sense of victimhood is unmatched. There were times before when you threatened to leave and now it makes me feel…well, like my Nan used to say, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?” And I know that’s harsh, but no one is better at the blame game than you.
The email is hot and ready in the drafts folder. For your lover, the last nail in the coffin is a click, a trigger impulse away. Do you ignore, confront, beg, or accept? Do you wish them well, but hope for reconciliation?
Or do you go inward? It’s difficult to examine yourself without wincing; look at those shaky legs, that tired spine. When you look in the mirror, you cannot unsee the stress carving itself into you like rivers of escaping water.
What a state you’re in. And everyone knows what you’re like.
You fight the urge to delete the unsent email. You unpeel yourself from your cheap computer chair. A few hours remain until your lover returns. Time to piss or get off the pot. Or at least put some pants on.
Bridget Canning writes and teaches. Her debut novel, The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes was selected as a finalist for the BMO Winterset Award, the Margaret and John Savage First Book (Fiction) Award, The Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award for Fiction, and the IPPY Award for Best Fiction, Canada East. She was raised on a sheep farm in Highlands, Newfoundland and currently lives in St. John’s.
Illustration by Kevin Kendall.