>After the Break (short story)

>We sat in his junky red car drinking slushies. It was still so hot outside even though it had turned to fall and all the leaves were blazing orange. We were parked outside my apartment, the apartment that would be ours after our wedding in four months and six days. He flipped off the radio and turned his body toward me.

“I think we should see other people,” he said. “It’s over.”

I blinked. A couple times. My body went numb.

“You had to have known this was coming,” he said. “I don’t love you.”

“But, we have a date. A church. My dress,” I said. “I’m not letting you go.”

“There’s someone else. You can keep the ring. I don’t care. Sell it or throw it away. Just don’t wear it anymore.”

I spilled the slushie on my leg. Melty purple syrup and water flowed on my jeans. He reached over to catch the cup or brush off the mess.

“Don’t touch me!” I screamed. “Just don’t ever touch me again!”

I swatted at him, smacking sounds from my hands on his face and arms.

“I gave you everything! And now…now you can just push me away?” My voice was low and quavering.

“Just get out of the car,” he said. Cold, hard, iron. “Get out.”

“Samantha, you have to get out of bed,” my mom said over the phone. “Life goes on, honey.”

“But I don’t want it to.”

“You have to let it.” Her sigh was loud enough to hear through the receiver. “It’s been two weeks. It’s time to start over.”

“That’s it, huh? Just start over?”

“Yup. That’s life, Sam.”

Tearing up his pictures gave me a strange feeling of victory. Burning them was even better.

I wept like crazy. Regret set in over destroying the pictures. So much of my life reduced to a cup full of ashes in my grill.

He called me. Asked me if I could get lunch with him.

“To talk.”

“No,” I said.

“What? You hate me now?”


“Don’t your remember anything good from us? We had some good days.”

“I can’t think of a single thing that was good.”

“Not even one?”


I hung up. That felt good.

He always hated tattoos. Said they looked “trashy”.

I went with a few friends and got a strawberry on my ankle. It was the only one I could afford.

It was the stupidest thing ever. But it was a mark of my freedom.

Danced at my friend’s wedding. He was there with a pretty girl on his arm.

I hid in the bathroom for the rest of the reception.

“Hey, Sam,” him on my voice mail. “I’m sorry I was such a jerk to you. I kind of miss you. Man, we had some great times. Call me.”

My heart ached in different ways. I never thought that could happen. I still loved him. I was starting to hate him.

“Do you love her?” I asked. He slumped in the booth across from me. I finally agreed to meet him.

“I don’t know.” He wore a hat. He never wore those when we were together. He was also wearing cologne. Another new thing for him. “Maybe I do.”

“I can’t believe you.”


“One minute you miss me, the next you love her. Make up your mind.”

“I don’t miss you.”

“But on the phone…”

“Don’t go making little accusations.”

“I’m not.”

“It’s none of your business.”

“You’re right.”

We sat. It was so quiet. Our untouched meals went cold we sat there so long.

“I got a tattoo,” I said.

“That’s so stupid. You know how I feel about those.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter anymore does it?”

Walking out of that restaurant, I felt strong. I walked away from what weighed me down.

I no longer needed him. I no longer cared what he said or how he looked at me or who he was with.

I was free.

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