I Can't Say What Happened Next

Short fiction where I pretend I know what’s going on inside other people’s relationships. Written November 2017.

They have screaming fights about me in their bedroom across town. Pitching, her voice hits the top of her range, she raises her voice, raises his heart rate, raises her verbal punches as insults coated in injury and insecurity and some loss of the self she had wanted to be. They have screaming fights where they both throw down hurt, play their hand guarded, reveal nothing in their eyes when all they really want to do is look at each other, take note of the features of the world when they’re in one another’s arms. 

They have screaming fights about me. They live in a basement suite swinging with printed fabric, depictions of middle eastern prophets ty-dyed in good intentions. They have a china cabinet where instead of wedding gifts, the dust covers board games, and I loved them for that. Did I ever tell them? 

They trade words about me, accusations attached to inquisitions, betrayed trust built on the foundation of the boy she has next door. But she was his first. He wore a tattoo that marked his marriage to another first. It meant something to him first, more than rings, more than words spoken in a moment in front of a room full of passer-byers. But she asked him in. He was looking for something. He followed. 

I can’t say what happened next. I can’t say how long he held on before letting her share the bed of another man. Before seeing love more than his moments of need, and when he flipped the switch to on, his heart stayed on too. He loves her like crazy, loves her enough to cling close to the pieces she can’t fit, the parts she can’t play anymore. He regrets it. Regrets opening up his life, opening up his home, opening up his marriage. But he can’t turn back because this journey started long before she met him in an orchard. They were all picking. All day they smelt like apples. It felt like Eden. It felt like home. 

They’re fighting about me. This has nothing to do with me. They’re fighting about me. In between in their words are sobs, the sadness of loss in slow motion. The stoney space they share in their apartment underneath someone else’s stairs is jam packed, full to the tilt, mashed up with a mess of memories of moments they smiled and found common ground between two languages and said I do. I do want this. I do chose this. I do put you first. 

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At least that’s what I imagine. 

[All content written by Liz Goode. Not to be reproduced without permission.]