Check your ex’s Instagram account. Spin in your chair and accidentally kick your dog in the face. Beg his forgiveness. It’s a real feeling, for a minute, hurting someone you love. Get up to let him out, then walk outside, too. Look at the blue sky, at the trees in the park behind your fence, branches and branches of orange and brown leaves that will fall any day now. Think about taking your dog on a walk through those trees. Or maybe a real hike somewhere. It’s been almost a year since you’ve walked in a real forest, since you’ve hiked, red-faced and breathing heavy, trying to keep up. Tell your dog that today is okay, but we probably won’t take a hike. Appreciate his toothy Pitbull smile before he runs after a squirrel. Go back inside and turn on the k-cup machine. Feel that familiar pinch, of the waste and privilege and your own role in the destruction of the planet. Hold on to the feeling for a moment, that guilt your ex taught you to feel for the first time. Tuck it inside and wonder if it’ll be the only other feeling you have today. Think about the trees getting cut down every minute of every day, and whisper-list the napkins, the paper towels, the toilet paper, the delivery boxes. Wish the barely-there guilt would develop into something bigger, something like she felt. Make a single-serving mug of what tastes like McDonald’s coffee. Think about going to McDonald’s for lunch. Think about how fat you’re getting, eating fast food every day. Think about how being fat is okay, it’s something, almost a feeling. Think about how your ex has a new girlfriend and the two of them are so muscular and cute on Instagram with their matching tattoos. Wonder what it’s like to get matching tattoos with someone you’ve dated for three weeks. You and your ex were together for three years, but she left you because the two of you wanted different things. Because you ate at McDonald’s and had an Amazon Prime membership and she wanted to hike down the Grand Canyon and maybe go vegan. She looks like a vegan now, though she looked like a vegan before, so who knows? Remind yourself that you hadn’t had sex in almost a year anyway and she wasn’t very good in bed. You couldn’t cum with her unless you were high and she didn’t like it when you smoked and when you told her you needed more in bed, she said it wasn’t her fault that she was no longer attracted to you. Sit back down in your chair and when it sinks too far, because either the lever broke or you weigh too much, close out the security standards PowerPoint you’re working on and turn off your laptop. Pick up your phone and slide into bed. Ignore the texts from your mother. Ignore the texts from the nice girl you made out with at a bar last week who wants to know what’s wrong and why you’re ghosting her. Ignore the text from your doctor’s office that you’ll need to schedule an appointment for a Lexipro refill. Open Facebook and see your mom’s post at the top: a photo of her and your dad next to a huge tree in Sequoia National Park. “A dream come true!” she’s captioned the shot. Your dad stands near her, red-faced, a strained, tight smile telling a different story about dreams. Smile back at him in solidarity. Touch his face on the screen, which accidentally likes your mom’s post. Your phone rings and it’s your mom. Send it to voicemail. Later she’ll ask why you didn’t answer, and you won’t be able to say, “I’m so fucking sad.” You won’t be able to say, “I think this depression is getting worse.” So get out of bed and put on your shoes. Pull your ex’s old fleece vest out of the closet. Grab the leash and go outside to get your dog, the dog your ex gave you as a puppy, the dog she called “our baby” and then kissed you and kissed you with big, wet, happy-tears kisses because she “finally had a family.” The dog who slept between you. The dog who is freaking the fuck out now that he sees the leash. Say, “We’re going on a hike.” “Finally,” his tail says back, wagging and wagging. “Fucking finally. Let’s make like a tree and leave.”
- On Wednesday I Get Ashes at the Drive-Thru
Katelyn Botsford Tucker
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