Maybe, by now, you should be used to this feeling: waking up in the aftermath of a hurt so deep that you can feel it in your chest, that seems to linger in your mouth no matter what you eat or drink. (copper and cheap wine that’s overwarm is the closest you can compare it to). It’s happened to you over and over again; you should be used to this disconnected feeling in the aftermath, the misery wrapping itself tight enough to choke, and the finality of realizing where you really stood with someone you thought loved you back.
You aren’t. And that’s the worst part of it.
Maybe you never will be used to it.
You focus your eyes on the wall in front of you as the lights flash on your phone, feet sinking into the carpet, hands on either side of your thighs.
You should sleep.
You count the notifications instead until you find that it’s five in the morning and your eyes hurt.
The week drags on. Between Adam’s coaxings and the inability to do much else besides getting up, turning on the tv, and eating, you find you can’t focus on much. Not even cleaning the ruins of your apartment helps: your mind keeps looping back to Julia, no matter how loud you turn the music up in your headphones, no matter how many papers you sort through, no matter how many tasks you make to get through this.
How many times did you write emails and text to her when you were too tired to do it for friends or girlfriends or boyfriends? How many times did you confide in her when you knew that your mother never would, and you could trust her with secrets that you couldn’t give to a lover? How many times did you allow yourself to break in a phone call or a text, or even in her very arms when you couldn’t else where?
It’s incalculable. And she had the power to fix you so many times. And she hadn’t.
Another day goes by, maybe two. You drag yourself to a FedEx in the dead of night and you imagine what the texts are like as you finally open up the copier. You're sure that they're full of platitudes, of pleading, apologies. Everything she should have said, but never did.
It takes little to reach out with your power and shove your phone off of the counter as you place the document inside the machine. You need to photocopy every single document she sent you, not think about her crawling on her hands and knees for forgiveness. The woman next to you looks perplexed as you don’t immediately reach over to grab it.
When you do take a glance at it, arms full of papers, everything is in the triple digits.
The question remains: What are you going to do now, that you know all of this?
You turn the question over in your head for the upteenth time, staring at the wall of cereal boxes, the supermarket light blinking in and out overhead. (and for once, that’s not your doing) The phone buzzes and buzzes in your pocket as you think about her, about the grocery list in your hand, and about what to do.
You can’t go back home to her, you can’t tell her how much you miss your song, you can’t even yell at her for fear that you actually might cave in to loneliness and forgive her. She doesn’t deserve the thought of reconciliation, much less the actual act.
And a lot of you does want to pick up the phone and forgive her because it’d be easier -- haven’t you burned enough bridges?
The rest of you understands what’s always been the truth: you have no mother -- real, imagined, our found -- anymore.
You pick the frosted flakes and think about calling your brothers. That entails seeing the final tally of voice mails, texts, emails. She doesn’t deserve that, and you don’t deserve the pain from it.
You put away the groceries, eat the sandwiches Adam left, and you go to bed.
You expect to dream about her and your mother. Instead, you dream about your fingers under car hoods, about the dank smell of the basement as you tried to find a lantern, and the way the bed felt when you woke up in the hospital. It follows you to waking, reaching for a blanket that you’d never taken from the cabin, expecting to smell Montana air and not Boston cold seeping into you.
It doesn’t suck you up into despair the way you think it will. It doesn’t make you feel better either, but this is… different.
You’re not sure what that means. You just let it roll over you as you sift through papers and try to think of what to do now with what you have. There’s only one thing you didn’t open from her, that’s sitting in the bank box with all the other things you’ve recovered. You know what it is: recorded on the last home camera she had, your handwriting for the date messy, three weeks before Teddy was due.
There’s a temptation there, and you ignore it -- seeing her face so soon doesn’t feel like the right idea, and there’s a puppy, climbing in your lap, tail thumping against your leg who wants to go for a walk outside, anyway, and the boyfriend who got her looking for the right leash. Both of whom at least, want you, and your attention.
It doesn’t fix things, but it does make you smile. That matters.
Your fingers rub Nancy’s belly, and you enjoy the way her legs kick into the air, body squirming in your hand.
There are a thousand things you could say to her. Some she deserves. Perhaps some she doesn’t, as much as you can’t stand to think about her now.
But you don’t talk to julia. You simply turn off your phone, pop the battery out, and make plans to get a new number where she can’t reach you. You’ll have to find some way to live and be happy without her. It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve had to do this, but you hope it’ll be one of the last.
You can survive this. You have to try.