Original work of short fiction by M. Garcés
I want to move. Far away. Some place beautiful. Somewhere with men all strong, sexy and rugged. The kind of men that pay for everything without whining, who open your doors without you asking, who know what they want and don’t give up until they get it, the kind of guy who will just grab you and shake you until you look into his eyes and see what was there all along, the kind of guy who takes the initiative, doesn’t puss out, who slams you against the wall and kisses you until your lips hurt. The kind of man who is a man’s man, confident in who he is and what he’s got, and certain that you, you have what he needs. Where the FUCK are men like this? Shit. How did everything get so turned around? I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet a guy like that. And all I get is… Benj. This passive aggressive motherfucker who doesn’t know what he wants. Not to mention late all the fucking time. And it’s so goddammned infuriating that he is the only guy in the world whose shit I put up with. What is that?! What is this power he holds over me?! I don’t think of him at all in Thailand, I come back and then BAM it’s like the fucker pops up everywhere in my head, everywhere I go. It’s so nauseating, just how much I let him in… despite the overwhelming evidence that he is completely wrong for me.
“Nikki, what’s your take?” I hear him say. Snap back to reality and there he is, right in front of me, the jackass I wasted three years on. Ok on and off but is off really EVER off?!
“God, how delightfully boring you are” I replied, flashing a smile before stabbing my fork into the lettuce. Being mean was the only way to protect myself from his asshole charms that somehow always kept me coming back for more.
He chuckled, and then did that weird jaw thing that people do when they’re insulted. “The salad’s pretty good, huh?”
It was impossible not to laugh. The man was an idiot when it came to women. Here we were, in a not so pricey not so cheap chain restaurant, seeing each other for the first time in a year, and he was talking about fucking salad. “What? Do I have food in my teeth or something?” he asked, with this obnoxious habitual and sentimental smile. That’s right; bring it all back to you, like always.
“Benj, why the fuck am I here? I didn’t throw on a dress and a pair of hundred-dollar shoes to talk about some mediocre ass salad. You and I don’t talk for, hmmm, six months?! Because you were a ROYAL ASSHOLE, who was too pussy to man up and say the truth until waaaaaaaay later, and yet here we are, in fucking Olive Garden making small talk?!”
Shrimp alfredo arrived despite my hostility. These days no one gives you a fucking moment.
“What, we can’t be friends?”
“We were never friends. Remember? Painful love at first sight?! We either fucking hated each other or were madly in love with each other.” Bullshitting is not one of my virtues. Don’t get me wrong; when it came to writing papers for school I was a master at it. But when it comes to human relationships, platonic or passionate, straight talk is the only way I go.
He did his stupid laugh again. “Ok… well, I missed you. I want to know how your trip went.” His face was so annoyingly confident and hopeful at the same time. The fact that he was so aware of this energy between us… it really made me want to beat the shit out of him.
I stared at him blankly. “It was fantastic. Rode elephants, taught little kids English, had a couple of one night stands, traveled a new continent, and met some awesome people.”
There was only one part of that he listened to. “You… slept with someone?”
The arrogance of this man is astounding. “I don’t know if you caught on to it Benj, but I said a couple. And as I recall, the last time we spoke, you finally had the balls to admit the real reason you wanted a break was to dick around.”
I watched him take a sip of water and clear his throat. “I just thought you weren’t like that. The type, I mean.” After I gave him a confused face he continued, “You waited so long, I just figured you’d wait for love again.”
We both fell silent, this awkward stench in the air, the smell of complete distaste and shock mixed with longing. “I’ve come to realize that love was a childish illusion, one I won’t be dumb enough to believe in again. Men and women should really find affirmation within their own sex and leave the whole men and women thing as a purely physical interaction. It makes things so much more calm and drama free.”
“I take it this has to do with your dad more than it has to do with me.” Low blow. He had heard about the wedding. And all I could think of was what an asshole he was to not call or email me, saying some sort of I’m-here-for-you bullshit. He had no problem dishing out lies on why we shouldn’t be together while I was gone, but when it came to an important lie, like the consoling one that said I’m-sorry-your-dad-is-a-complete-ass, the fucker had no decency. “I saw the picture in the paper… it seemed pretty extravagant,” he added, like that was supposed to make me feel better.
“You’re a real asshole,” I told him, getting up and throwing my red wine in his face. “I told you, you should’ve gotten the fucking grigio. Good luck with the stains, fucktard.” Of all the people in the world, he was the one who should’ve known nothing gets under my skin like a shitty wine pairing.
Walking out of there was easy this time. I had given up on the idea of him chasing after me, the notion of him showing up on my doorstep with flowers and a huge speech about how he couldn’t live without me. Once upon a time I believed all of that. And now that I looked back and remembered, that was the part that made it all worse. Having that naïve idealism that love was everything, that it was the cure. Learning that my entire life ideology was complete crap, well that was the biggest heartbreak of all. And he was right; it wasn’t just him who had created this iciness in my spirit when it came to all things emotional.
Everyone thinks that the overwhelming surroundings and circumstances will never happen to them. It was so with my parents. They were the power couple, okay, not necessarily rich, but definitely the envy of most because of their undying love for the other. Their story was one for the books. They met at a party, she was with some friends, he was with some friends, their eyes meet… and the magic took place. A month later they were married, because “when you know, you know.” Four kids later and things were still going strong. They were married for over thirty years. And then the truth came out, right after I left the country. Pops was cheating on my mom (more offensively with someone his own age), and this ‘other’ woman was his new moon and sky. Now he and this woman are married, and my poor mother is off living with some Jesus people in El Salvador. What a shitty year.
I groaned when I realized that eventually I had to see him again, to get the rest of my things out of our apartment. The jerk didn’t even have the decency to put all my things in a box or suitcase when I left. The idea of my things just lurking and lingering in his home made me sick to my stomach. I was alone, for the first time in my adult life. All of my friends were OUR friends. You think since he kept the apartment I’d get to keep the friends, but being away for a year has kind of screwed me over in the friends department. He had a whole year to lure them into our house of iniquity and convince them to set up camp with him. The bastard probably gave them a discount on weed. Ugh. He is so insufferable. I turned back towards the restaurant, pissed that I had to retreat and briefly wave a white flag.
It was almost like he was waiting. “Well, welcome back princess,” he grinned, opening his arms out for a hug.
“Seeing that we are already in each other’s presence I figured it fitting to get my shit back,” I smiled back, annoyed as hell.
First we walked over to my parent’s old place, or rather, my new place. It wasn’t far, just a few blocks. We didn’t speak the entire way. By the time we got there I felt exhausted from trying so hard to be silent. Especially with how horny it made me. Silence just made me notice things more. His physical appearance almost seemed deliberately created to make me more susceptible to his charms. The stubble. Slightly overgrown hair. The ridiculous chest hair that peeked out whenever he stretched his arms. I live for that shit. And what’s more, on anyone else these things just irritated the living crap out of me.
“God, it looks the same. Your mom must’ve really left in a hurry,” Benj commented, following me into their bedroom. Decidedly I ignored him, opening the closet to find a big hunk of luggage. It took less than a second for me to choose one amongst the vast options. “Isn’t that the one we took to Villa Hermosa?” he asked me, placing his hand over mine to grasp the handle. “That was the best vacation ever… just you, me, your cute lil bikini and the sea…”
I moved my hand, flooded by a weird indescribable feeling. “I don’t remember,” I lied, backing out of the room.
The entire way to our old apartment he kept mentioning the past, all of the good times we had. It was so damn annoying, how he could go from apathetic asshole to sentimental. Now you care.
“Do you remember when we met?” he smiled, turning on the left blinker. I remained silent, not in the mood to recall the exact moment in time that I fell in love with him. “What was it that I said to you? That you looked like an elf?”
I rolled my eyes. “That I looked like an extra from Wizard of Oz.”
He laughed. “Oh right! And then you said I looked like a circus bear, and that if I wanted to talk to you I had to do a handstand!”
A smile managed to wiggle out of me. “And you did.”
“Psh, so did every other guy within earshot,” he chuckled, putting his arm over my chair.
“But you were the only one who was mean to me… the only one I wanted to do a handstand for me,” I glanced over at him searchingly.
“You made me nervous,” he admitted, “You were so fucking beautiful that night… even with that stupid dress on.”
It was all too familiar in a newly unfamiliar way. The same address. Some of the same things. With a pronounced addition to bachelor pad accessories. It reminded me of how it used to be, before I came in with all my boxes and toiletries. But there were still faint traces of my existence. Things he was probably too lazy to physically pick up and throw away. Pictures most importantly. I had prepared myself emotionally for seeing a new girl on his refrigerator. But no, there I was, 5×7 and smiling. It was taken a few months before I had left, I was so happy then. There was a faint gesture of laughter in my facial expression, not surprising considering that I used to almost always be laughing. Everything amused me then.
“I gotta take a dump, make yourself at home.”
I was too immersed to even look at him. The scenario was so weird and intriguing. Instantly I surveyed the room to find something that would indicate that he had moved on. Next to the TV, the Rock Band set was out, one of the many things he was anal about when it came to placement. He used to throw the biggest fits whenever I moved the drum set to do my yoga. Which made me remember why I was there in the first place. Quickly I walked over to the bedroom. It was hard not to laugh at the Princess Lea life-sized cutout that greeted me the moment I walked in. It was the first thing that went in the closet as soon as I had moved in. Not exactly the girl I was expecting, but all things considered, not the worst girl to find in your ex’s room. Then I heard it. The distinct sound of a lighter being ignited quickly followed by the smell of kush.
I swung open the bathroom door to find Benj, squatting on the toilet and lighting a pipe. Pushed down, over his knees were my favorite pair of underwear.
“MOTHER FUCKER!” I screamed, “Give me my panties!!”
“What? I’m just keeping them warm for ya,” he laughed, obviously already buzzed. “Chill out… toke up with me chica!”
I rolled my eyes. Weed was never really my thing. It was always his and it was always something mentioned whenever we fought. But the truth was, ever since we had broken up I had found myself susceptible to the smells and tastes of this plant. “Baah, fine,” I sighed, grabbing the pipe and getting into the tub. “Get the incense,” I barked, frightened at how quickly I could get back into routine.
He wiped his ass and flushed the toilet. I laid down and lit up the glass pipe, holding the smoky herbal substance inside as long as I could. He returned with his computer. “Playin us some Bobby, baby,” he chuckled. I heard the little mouse click and “Could you be loved” came on.
“You are so dumb,” I giggled, passing back the pipe.
“Whatever. You’re obsessed with me Nik.”
“Really? Last time I checked I wear my own underwear.”
Silence. Followed by him coughing after taking a huge hit.
“I like them. They’re comfy.”
“Yeah, cuz you still wanna DO me!”
“Don’t talk like that. That’s not you.”
The setting was getting too much. My eyes started to twitch. Fuck. Not now. I haven’t cried since I left this place. And now, now of all times, it seems my body’s ready to indulge. SHIT. A sniffle crawled out of my mouth. Instinctively I sat up and reached for the bath dial. I pulled it out, not even caring that I was still wearing clothes and that my dumbfuck of an ex-boyfriend was sitting next to me, in my favorite pair of underwear on the crapper.
He was up. Staring at me from above. I grabbed the shower curtain and pulled them so I didn’t have to see him. He moved them back and crawled in with me. The tub wasn’t the biggest. It was hard to look at him, so I decided to just hunch up into a ball and put my head on my knees. Benj stuck his foot behind me, urging me to move forward so he could sit behind me. I allowed him to, grateful that I wouldn’t have to see him. But then he held me. From behind. And all I could do was cry like a fucking infant. There was nothing I could do but cry. And when I say cry, I mean howl, ugly howl, the kind where you make nonsensical noises and create a language to express just how pathetic you are. He said nothing. He just breathed and held.
“Everything is SO fucked up,” I managed to say.
The ugly crying scene lasted a little longer. It felt like an hour but I’m sure it was only 15 minutes. My makeup probably looked like shit. Nothing made sense, especially why he was holding me. Him, the most inconsiderate boyfriend I’d ever had… not that I ever had been the girl to have many. I remembered how a month before I had left, he had disappeared for three days, without a single phone call. When he got back, he had had the audacity to tell me he was at his mother’s, and even said that I was obsessive for freaking out so much. Yeah. The bastard was really in jail. Psh, I had to accidentally read his mail to get the truth.
“You’re such an asshole!” I snapped, standing up so I could face him.
“I know,” he replied, without a sense of sarcasm, but not necessarily with an I’m-going- to-change tone either. He pushed his arms through my legs to turn the water off. “I’m a dick,” he admitted, getting up to eye level with me.
I punched him in the stomach.
“OW! Fuck!” he cried out, grasping his belly. “That really hurt, what the FUCK, Nikki?!”
“Now we’re even.” I smiled.
He laughed. “You’re fucking nuts, woman.”
And then he grabbed me. And kissed me. The kind of kiss I wanted and had been waiting all my life for, that said everything that needed to be said.
And then he farted. Eh, but what’s love without a little hate?