Friday, August 27, 2010

#12: strong to the finish.

She's gone.

Not gone-gone, just gone. Family reunion in Idaho Falls to which you were marginally disappointed to have not been invited. But oh well, you're practically living together at this point, and family's a whole other WASPy can of worms that you're surely both better off avoiding for right now. Surely.

And it's a good thing that the two of you are more or less living together, anyway, considering she's left little accidental reminders of her existence around your apartment. An optimistically half-full water bottle that you're embarrassed but comforted by having kissed goodnight in her stead. A bed that, since her departure, remains unmade. This is, of course, not to mention the couch in the other room on which you're now sleeping, like sleeping in your bed without her is some form of betrayal.

You leave the comforter and the sheets unkempt because you, with some close examination, can tell what part of her left which rumpled wrinkle. The one shaped like a waning moon, for example, is from when she sits up out of bed and springs to feet far too firm to be planted so flatly so early in the morning. Her thigh always curves the bedding as she leaps out of sleep and into her day, and it's reflected in the 600-thread-count astronomy playing itself out like a map of the skyline.

As you open the refrigerator for the gallon of milk you bought the day before--in her absence, you're regressing to a Lucky Charms-exclusive diet--you see a neatly-stacked pyramid of small tupperware containers topped with an index card. It reads:

"Babe--microwave these and eat them. Don't just have cereal all week. I don't want you dying of malnutrition and stinking up the place while I'm gone. Mwah. xoxo"

One of the contents in the top box is green. Not, like, lime green, either; salad green. Maybe cabbage or spinach? You're no expert. Your eyes grazing over the other containers yields no better results: healthy stuff abounds in here, and you wonder where The Universe took your girlfriend and with whom--or what?--she was so quickly replaced. After all, this is the girl that prefers her steak to still be able to moo, and she's left you single-serving salads?

You step to the pantry for the Lucky Charms that by now feel more like a birthright than breakfast. Sliding door flings left and you scan for the red box that's promising you a full tummy and a subsequent late-morning nap (it is Saturday, and you don't have much to do), but you can't seem to. Looking for color, size, shape: you're finding nothing.

But there it is, a cardboard Ark of the Covenant holding back its blessings from your dry mouth. You reach for the box and lift it, but its weight is disproportionate to your expectations.

It's empty. You shake it, though, as though sheer willpower will transubstantiate into heavily frosted oats and dehydrated marshmallows. But you don't hear cereal: you hear paper. You shake again and imagine an index card or something to be inside. But what on earth would an index card be doing in a box of Lucky Ch--

"Babe--seriously. Just eat the damn salad. I want someone to come back home to and a sugar coma would put you out of commission. xoxo."

And above your widescreen smile and behind your grateful eyes, your brain reminds you that there's a rule: very few people can honestly decide they're truly in love with someone based on an index card and discarded cereal.

You douse raspberry vinaigrette over spinach leaves and almond slices, basking in the warm glow that comes from being an exception to the rule.

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