Monthly Archives: October 2012


“Could you stop that?” I snapped, nervously smoothing the front of my coat with damp palms.

“Stop what?” Martin whined, honking a wad of mucus into a wrinkled napkin for the thirtieth time since we sat down. I glanced furtively around us, wondering how many of the other passengers would be wrinkling their noses, looking at us like festering Petrie dishes.

Instead of answering him, I exhaled quietly and turned again toward the window. Queens was whizzing passed, a brick and concrete reminder of the city drawing ever closer.

“What time is the interview?” Martin sniffed, his voice slightly obscured by his congestion.

“Nine.” It was maybe the fourth time I’d told him.

“Don’t stress, you won’t be late.”

Martin is obsessed with stress. He thinks everyone’s biggest problem is that they stress too much. I’ve heard him blame everything from chicken pox to baldness to poverty on stress.

“I’m not worried about being late,” I snap. Part of me hopes he’ll see through my thin anger and ask, “Well, babe, what are you worried about?” Another part of me hopes he’ll just shut up and let me ride the last fifteen minutes to the station in peace.

He stays quiet, but I suspect it has more to do with his sudden interest in a game on his phone than any insight into what I wanted from him.

I lean my forehead on the cool widow for a moment, glimpses of tiny, weed-ridden yards and miles of fence and wire winking back at me.

One day, I think, you’ll never have to look at this again.

Next to me, I hear Martin search absent-mindlessly for another napkin from his backpack.

One day.


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What no one knows.

And here is the deepest secret nobody knows: The root of the root, bud of the bud, she would murmur unconsciously when she stopped to think about it, which she rarely did.

Becca had decided to take Travis back.

Second chances were not in her nature, so why the change? It was probably something that sounded like love. Probably, but if you asked her, the animal, self-preservationist part of her brain would stare you down with eyes full of steel and reply matter-of-factly that she was a woman of her word and vow. Unlike some people we could name.

And so, with her mind made up and the dry, unsatisfying taste of second chance rolling over her tongue, Becca drove to the buddy’s house where she knew Travis had been sleeping these days.

A bottle of wine sat in the passenger seat (to new beginnings!), wedged under her purse to keep it from rolling as she took every sharp turn.

The buddy’s windows were dark, but she knocked anyway, predictably to no answer.

She could have called him. For the rest of her life, she would wonder how things might have been different if she’d picked up her phone and just shot off a text telling him, if not exactly where her head was at, that she needed to talk to him about something important. The rest of their lives could have been entirely different with the few taps of a screen.

But Becca, a closet Luddite who was reluctant to let go of paper maps, handwritten thank-you notes, and face-to-face conversation, felt this wasn’t something she could tell first to a machine.

So she waited, lights off, engine off, thinking only of what she would say when she saw him and how long she could keep the radio humming quietly before she killed her battery.

And when the taxi rolled up eight minutes to three in the morning, Just when she was finally letting her shoulders slump an thinking maybe she would come back that afternoon, she still didn’t let herself think anything judgmental about Travis.

Because when Becca forgave, she forgave entirely, and she locked away her resentment and passive aggression to a place inside her that she would never open. And she had forgiven Travis.

Until he lurched from the car, drunkenly extending a hand to Lucy, who rose out of the can after him and stumbled into his chest, clinging to the green wool coat Becca had given him last winter. Becca watched Travis pull away only to pay the driver, and then the two of them fell into each other again in a sloppy, obscene embrace. She watched them slouch up to the apartment building and go inside, but she didn’t wait to see the lights flick on.

As she made her way carefully home through the now icy streets, Becca opened the part of her where she locked away the things she forgave and locked something else in in its place Because now there could be no forgiveness, no amnesia of Travis’s transgressions.

Because as completely as Becca could forgive, she could just a easily never, ever forget.

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Filed under Becca, Lucy Harding, Travis

What they had been.

Becca listened to him breathing, a wet, choking sound she had learned years ago meant he was at least six beers in. Not quite blackout, but not a state to be trusted with anything of importance.

“I was thinking, maybe, I mean maybe you, if you want, I mean, maybe, we could get a drink or somefin.”

If she had been uncertain of his level of intoxication prior to the request, Becca certainly wasn’t now. The sigh escaped her lungs before she could stop it.

“Travis. No.”


The first syllable of Becca’s name was a hard one to whine. In regular conversation, it lent itself to an easy shortening. But a drunken whine followed with a hard consonant sounded too contrived.

“Travis,” Becca replied blandly. She didn’t care for his game anymore.

“You can’t just pretend I stopped existing, Becca,” Travis snapped, a rare moment of clarity shattering the fog of his drunken call. “We were so good together! ‘Member?”

The problem was, Becca couldn’t stop remembering. She tasted Travis with very cappuccino, to foamy drinks she had detested the thought of until he finally made her try one. She felt him whenever she slipped on her favorite worn leather boots, and unexpected anniversary gift after she was certain he’d forgotten. She smelled him in every dive-y bar, heard him in every strum of a bass guitar.

Travis haunted her. She would give anything to forget how good they had been together. So she said the only things she still believed to be true.

“You cheated on me, Travis. Whether or not we were good together ceased to be relevant from that moment on.”

“You don’t mean that,” he sniffed.

And maybe because he had always known her so well (better, in most cases, than she knew herself or admitted to herself), Becca allowed Travis’s comment to plant a singular seed of doubt in her resolve.

“You can’t tell me you don’t miss me. You can’t tell me you don’t wonder what would have happened if you’d just forgiven me and given us a second chance. Maybe not every day, but you think about it, Bec.”

And damn him to hell, because Beca couldn’t tell him any of those things. So she said the only thing she could truthfully say.

“I don’t want anything to do with you anymore, Travis.”

And then she held her breath and listened to Travis cry, willing herself not to join in the mourning of what they had been.

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Filed under Becca, Travis