Love Will Break Your Heart

What’s wrong with the world is the romantic comedies, Aida thought.

She’d watched Moonstruck a million times. She loved when Ronnie said, “Love don’t make things nice. It breaks your heart. It ruins everything.” Because that’s what Aida thought about love. Of course, in the movie Ronnie and Loretta ended up together. It wasn’t like that in real life. Aida knew that much was true.

Gabe died on a Monday eighteen months before. He had been sick for years. And yet, Aida still thought about him all the time. In the shower, she washed her hair and had conversations with him. Shampoo. Gabe, I miss you, why’d you leave me? Rinse. Gabe’s answer: I didn’t have a choice. Conditioner. Come back to me. Rinse. Gabe’s answer: I can’t. Love will break your heart.

For a while, Aida thought she had gone crazy. And for a while, she thought maybe she was talking to herself. Then she started reading about telepathy. She and Gabe were connected by a string. String theory, she’d never learned that in college, but knew it didn’t involve talking to your dead boyfriend through your mind. Could you really have telepathy with someone who had already left the earth? Aida wasn’t so sure.

On a Friday night, she sat on her couch with a bowl of homemade popcorn, watching Moonstruck for the thousandth time.

“What I need is to break the connection,” she said aloud to her cat, Ringo, to the ghost of Gabe, and to Loretta on the T.V. screen.

In bed that night, she stared at the popcorn ceilings. She thought about how much Gabe hated those popcorn ceilings. We should smooth those down, he said. I don’t want a big project, she had said. Now his scorn of the popcorn ceilings blossomed in her heart. She thought of his face, the feel of his hands on her body, before he had left her. She imagined a silvery blue string, and she cut the string. She imagined him flying into outer space as if he were an astronaut free falling away from the spaceship, floating further and further into oblivion. As his face disappeared, she sobbed and cried herself to sleep.

She woke up looking at the popcorn ceilings, and promptly threw up, just barely making it to the bathroom in time. The scum on the toilet haunted her, but she didn’t have the energy to clean it. She crawled back into bed cocooning herself in the warmth of the comforter. Sometimes she thought she could smell Gave in the comforter still. Once she came across one of his half-eaten candy bars, hidden in the top of the kitchen cabinet, and she bit into it as if eating it could bring him back to her. That was when she first thought she was crazy.

She stayed in bed for three days, calling into work and working through delirium mixed with hysteria with a touch of vomit. On the fourth day, she woke up, showered, put on clothes, and pulled a brush through the rat’s nest that had become her hair. She drove over to the Home Depot on 51st Street and walked in. At first she didn’t know why she had driven there. It seemed as if some invisible force had led her to the Home-Do-It center.

“Hi, I’m Bryan, how can I help you?”

Bryan had sandy blonde hair, and blue eyes. He had a smile like Ronnie in Moonstruck. Aida smiled back at him.

“I need to get rid of my popcorn ceilings. Can you help me?”

“Sure, come with me.”

Aida opened her eyes and stared at the white expanse of smooth ceiling above her head. She turned over in her bed and put her arms around Bryan’s waist. He turned toward her, and he kissed her lips.

Thanks Gabe, for showing me how to wipe the slate clean, she thought, as she snuggled against Bryan and fell back into the arms of sleep.

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The Last Push

Disclaimer: This is where I tell you that this story deals with adult themes and language. Do not read it if you don’t want to know that your daughter, aunt, mother, friend, whomever I am to you writes about adult themes.

I wrote this for Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. The assignment was to start with a BANG. I started with a banging.

The Last Push – 880 words

Banging her. Again. He looked out the window as he gyrated his hips. He couldn’t care less about this girl. She was loud in bed too. That drove him nuts. He just wanted to put his fucking hand over her mouth and tell her to shut-up.

Out the window the leaves had turned orange and red overnight. He pushed into her, and she squealed like a goddamn magpie. He didn’t like that. He wanted it over, but unfortunately they’d been screwing so much this weekend his stamina had improved. He pulled out and moved off of her.

“That’s it. You came?”

“Does it look like I did?” he asked, waving his hand toward his still erect dick. “On top.”

She obliged. He closed his eyes so he didn’t have to look at her face as she started moving and moaning on top of him.

On Saturday, he’d woken up and realized he’d spent the night. He kind of liked her smell. Melon—fruity—something like that. At the breakfast table, she poured a bowl of cereal and sat next to him. He ate his Cheerios and looked at the box, reading the words, but her loud chewing distracted him. Then she started talking. He thought they always ruined it with the talking.

“Next weekend my friend is having a birthday party. It’s going to be, like, this big blow-out. And you should come, Daniel.”

He should come. Like right now, come. He looked up at her, a mess of blonde hair in front of her face. He put his hands on her hip and adjusted how she sat. She thrashed about on top of him and made noises like a dying whale.

He’d known her exactly two weeks. They’d met at a party. He’d never invited her to his place. And for those two weeks all they’d done was spend time under the covers. He couldn’t talk to her about anything. She didn’t even know who Tolstoy was. “Is that one of your friends?” she asked when he mentioned the Russian author in conversation.

But she had a nice ass. And was a good lay except today with his mind on overdrive thinking about all the shit that made her so totally wrong for him. She looked nothing like Florrie. Maybe that was the only good thing about her. He couldn’t stand girls who looked like Florrie. He’d seen girls with short hair and that straight nose with the little upturned tip, and he’d run in the opposite direction.

And so he’d ended up with May. For the last two weeks. And he put in minimal effort. I mean, minimal, minuscule, the tiniest of tiny efforts. But she called him, texted, and sent him silly memes. He texted her too at like 10 PM every night to ask if he could come over. And then he’d come. A lot. And he liked that part. Well mostly, except moments like this when it felt like it would never end. When her groans were loud and annoying. When he knew implicitly that she wasn’t and could never be Florrie.

He pushed her over onto her back again. He needed to think of something, but Florrie’s face kept coming back to him. Once, a few years after he and Florrie had ended things, he’d been in the heat of the moment with a girl he actually liked. A girl he thought could maybe be more than just another fucking hookup, and he’d said Florrie’s name. The girl had freaked out. She beat his chest with her fist like some douchey cartoon character and demanded to know who Florrie was.

“Nobody,” he said. But the guilt of that statement stuck with him. Because she was somebody. Somebody he couldn’t forget or let go of no matter how many girls he’d been with since.

That girl had never called him back and since then he’d floated from one mattress to another. He’d seen purple sheets and pink sheets. He’d seen girls with OCD-clean rooms and disastrous clutters. He’d seen almost every size and shape one could think a woman could come in. Pear shaped, hourglass – that was his favorite–curvy. He’d seen girls who took care of themselves meticulously, and unfortunately, girls who didn’t.

And now he was here, in bed with May, wishing for an ending.

With May on her back, he began tracing her face with his fingers. He looked at her. He transformed her face into Florrie’s. He imagined the smile lines. He pretended she had Florrie’s deep set blue eyes. He erased May’s long hair with his eyes and transformed it into the short pixie haircut Florrie always wore. He saw the way she always bit her left lower lip toward the end of sex. He saw her face, and he began to move in a rhythm. May looked suddenly serious, but all Daniel saw was Florrie. He saw her on the summer day when they sat surrounded by dandelions in the middle-of-nowhere field where they stripped down naked and made love surrounded by picnic ants. Like some fucking Nicholas Sparks book. He saw all of the faces of Florrie on this girl in front of him. And he felt so turned on imagining her below him.

He put his head down on May’s shoulder, taking in her scent and pretending she smelled like Florrie. He felt the moment of explosion and his whole body shook with the last push.

One final release. He came. Goodbye to May. Bang over.

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