The following is from a Long Island Writer’s Guild writing exercise, in which the prompts were:
- wedding invitation
- your first tax refund
- favorite song
- plastic flowers
I opened the wedding invitation from Bridget. It came on a day when the sun was nowhere in sight. It was just another day of darkness in what seemed like a month-long string of days without the colors blue or yellow in the sky. It was so bad that I was beginning to look for a way out of my reality — a bottle of wine, a trip to Buenos Aires. Worse — something sharp to rub my wrists against. Just kidding.
As I sliced through the envelope with my pen (a writer always has a pen handy), God laughed at me and arranged for “The Wanderer” to come on the radio. It was Dion and The Belmonts, Bridget’s favorite song.
The line, “Well, I’m the kind of guy, that likes to roam around…” made me think of how I had isolated myself from any kind of relationship since Bridget. Through the military-like efficiency of the United States Postal Service, she was now telling me that she was moving on with her life — leaving her crazy, dysfunctional relationship with me, one in which we’d cuddle like two Pandas in a zoo on one date and yet, on another, sat across from each other barely talking — two cold stones not even a summer sun could heat.
Once she was one of the most important people in my life — the last thought in my brain at night as the gerbils up there finally got off the wheel and I drifted off, and the first person I wanted to talk to in the mornings.
I remember our first time together like I do my first tax return. That night, I was rich when I kissed her; I felt like a millionaire in her embrace.
But our bouquet of love — crowded with fragrant lilacs, happy daisies and colorful lilies — turned into a wiry clump of plastic flowers, the kind you might see in a dusty vase peeking out from behind a curtain in the window of an old house. One night, I dropped by her place unexpectedly, looked in the kitchen window and found her kissing some guy — some muscle-head from the gym that we both belonged to.
I walked away, down the dark street that was lit by only one lamp because the others were broken. Glad they were, too, because I didn’t want anyone to see me crying — tears of disappointment, in her, but also in me, because I obviously couldn’t give her something that she wanted.
She kept calling me for weeks and weeks after that. But I had already cut her out of my life. I never picked up the phone or answered her messages.
I, she, the two of us … were done.