“Shaun thinks she’s your girlfriend,” she said. “Just something to think about.”
In the parking lot of some fast food joint—maybe it’s Dairy Queen or Whataburger, but the details are foggy; this was nearly five years earlier—I walk out with a girl and her son. As she puts him in his car seat, I stand off to the side. The chill nips at my skin. My ears, despite the beanie, are cold. Don’t get me started on the ruby red skin tone my nose had taken.
She closes the door and heads around the car and pauses when I approach her. Without so much of a thought passing through my mind, I touch her face, lean in, and kiss her. It’s our first kiss. Cemented in memory.
She tries to form words, but nothing comes out. I’m as surprised as she. Because we both agreed that this wouldn’t happen. And the three words escape from my lips, punctuated by her name. Jenny.
Jenny. The girl from New Mexico. Jenny, the wife.
“So there’s never been any moments when you guys have hung out? I don’t know, if I was hanging out with some guy every single weekend…”
“Some times I want to be the little spoon, you know? There’s so much expected of me…a single moment of vulnerability and we’re perceived weak. So yeah, in the bedroom, after a long day of bullshit, I want whoever I’m with to accept me for all my strengths and vulnerabilities.”
“You can be the little spoon once in a while.”
And the words slip from my lips. Punctuated by her name. Selina. The girl from nearby. Selina, the wife.
“What if I’m a bad kisser, Sam? Or that I’ve forgotten how to hold someone’s hand and mean it? What if something as simple as a date night becomes a complex labyrinth of small talks and questions about the weather? What happens then, Sam?”
Her breath is bitter in my mouth. She’s hungry. She needs the control and I give it up with ease. Isn’t that who I’ve always been? Exactly what other people needed. She holds me down. Ties me up. She takes mouthfuls of me.
“I want to taste you,” she whispers in my ear. “Let me taste you.”
Her. This woman. Someone else’s wife.
And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones.
‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs.
Setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting names of the lovers that went wrong
The lovers that went wrong
I’m twentysomething, sitting in the waiting room at the university health service building. The weather outside is gloom and doom, creating the perfect atmosphere for the thoughts coursing through my head. In my hand is one of those waiting room pamphlets that decorate every clinic I’ve ever sat in.
“Do You Suffer From Depression?” it says on the top. Or some shit like that. I read through it. I tick off the boxes. I know there’s no use of lying. There’s a reason why this one called to me.
I don’t have suicidal thoughts, I think. Except when you do, the Voice says somewhere at the base of my skull.
Only four remain unticked. The suicidal is one of them. When the provider calls me in, she goes over all the tests. There’s nothing with me.
“I…uh…um…” I state meekly. “I saw this in the waiting room.” I hold up the pamphlet. “And I was thinking,” I began.
“I formally and happily resign from the person I was before. I formally and readily resign from depression. I’m ending the relationship I have with the Voice. I resign from the world of ugly that has polluted my thoughts, haunted my dreams. I vow to no longer hold onto the past. But acknowledge the demons that I must exorcise before I do so.”
“Shaun thinks she’s your girlfriend,” Jeanna tells me. We’re sitting in the waiting room while we await for our son to come out from the door. We’ve been talking about our lives and those who linger within them.
My silence speaks volumes.
“He was talking about the things you all did together or what she and he did together. And I asked him, ‘Shaun? Who’s Virginia?’ And he said, ‘Daddy’s girlfriend?’ but like he wasn’t too sure.”
“Oh,” I reply.
“Just something to think about.”
It’s Saturday night. Or maybe it’s Sunday morning. And I can’t remember what we were just talking about. But we’re both tired. She yawns and stretches and I can’t help but to smile. Admire her. And she blushes. Laughs. And the moment passes over us and evaporates with my inability to move. When she leaves, I hug her and have to force my arms to release her from my embrace.
Because if I don’t, I’m unsure if I’ll ever stop. Because I don’t fall in love; I plunge.