(You can read Part I here.)
It was there in that ending of the second month and the beginning of her real and true fear that perhaps she should listen to her friends rather than herself, that she was scrolling through the app, her heart not really in it, sipping her coffee and sitting on the toilet, a thing she’d list under “Worst Habit” on the app if she didn’t have a plethora of other less private habits to list, that she saw him.
Her coffee mug slipped from her left hand, she’d entirely forgotten she was holding it, her left hand now at her lips, coffee and ceramic painted across her bathroom floor, a slight stinging across the tops of her feet where drops of coffee and a shrapnel of ceramic landed. It was him, there was no question. He’d lost a good thirty pounds, maybe more, and he’d gone blonde, a look she didn’t quite dislike on him as much as she’d have thought.
She instantly regretted everything about her profile, from the very practical and real photo she’d chosen rather than the Glamour Shots style of photo her girlfriends encouraged her to use, to that stupid tagline that made her sound like the world’s most uptight bitch ever, even if it wasn’t intended that way at all…she was spiraling through memories of him refusing to go with her to the gym because he was too embarrassed, even though she insisted everyone started somewhere and how he looked to anyone else didn’t matter because she loved him and he was there for his health not his looks, memories of him saying he would go blonde when he no longer loathed himself and her insisting that his brown hair was a perfect complement to his brown eyes that blonde would look all wrong and besides didn’t he love her brown hair, and the memory that she’d been avoiding for years as she picked herself up and her put herself back together and created the creature that was now happily single rather than lonely and broken and desperate for anyone with a pulse to show her some spark of attraction.
It had been five years ago, she was in her prime, or at least that’s what she’d thought at the time. She had everything she’d always said she’d have by that point in her life: an excellent career, a long-term relationship with the man she was going to marry even if he hadn’t proposed yet, and she’d just gone into escrow on a home she’d driven by every day for ten years and always wanted. At the time she didn’t notice that her excellent career caused her migraines, that the man who hadn’t proposed yet was never going to and was in fact suffering from a massive depression, and the home she’d gone into escrow on she’d purchased alone. She had an excuse, or several, for not seeing these things, for not allowing the truth to ruin her perfect vision.
It was the day her escrow closed, no less. She came home to “their” apartment and noticed everything dramatically amiss. Her first thought was that they’d been robbed, and it was only upon closer inspection that she realized her things were all still there. Not only still there, as in right where she’d left them upon her hasty exit this morning, running late to work, her morning cup of coffee on the toilet having gone overlong as she scrolled through her social media discovering another of her friends’ engagement pictures and forcing herself back into the vision she had of her reality rather than facing the glaring truth. It was so odd to see her things so perfectly untouched, as though she’d been living alone this morning, while all of his things had simply vanished.
Obviously his things hadn’t vanished, they’d been removed. He’d removed them. But how? He spent days on the couch now, there were even nights where he didn’t come to bed, “I just can’t sleep, I don’t want to keep you up.” So fine, they’d weather this storm, she’d thought. Incorrectly, it turns out.
Her first move was to scour the apartment for a note. Finding none, she picked up her phone and was moments from pressing his name in her contacts when a text came through: “Thank you for loving me, for believing in me, but this isn’t working.”
She read it twice.
She looked to see the familiar ellipses that would indicate he was typing, but there were none.
She realized she was standing in her living room with her mouth open, her phone in front of her face, a comic character from a television program.
And then there they were, the ellipses. Followed by a text the thoughts of which still brought fury to her every cell: “congratulations on the house.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?!?!” she screamed.