There are ten beer bottles sitting on their – her kitchen counter. All of them were empty, lined up and she leaned her hip against the granite countertop as she spun a bottle. Her fingers danced around the spinning bottle on the dark grey countertop… the one they picked out together two years ago. She stopped the whirling bottle and threw all of them in the garbage can instead of the recycle bin. Mostly because the bin, was already filled with wine, beer, and vodka bottles.
She forgot to take the filled bin downstairs. She wasn’t really paying attention to it. Her mind was on other things.
“It’s better for the environment,” she slurred and staggered around the mess of papers and thrown clothes on the floor. The living room was a mess, but he is not here to yell at her.
So why the fuck should she care?
There are nine voicemails waiting for her when she wakes up the next morning…or afternoon.
“Lup? It’s Jaz. I just wanted to check up on you. Let me know how you are doing.”
“Lupita, it’s your sister. Why the hell are you not answering your phone? Or your emails? Or your texts? Or even your social media accounts? Call me back.”
“Yo. It’s Raven. Fuck him and let’s go to the boxing gym or a bar.”
“Miss. Castañón, it’s Professor Collins. I wanted to let you know that I received your email and I am sorry to hear that you got the flu over the weekend. I will have someone else take care of your classes for this week. Please let me know if there is anything else that I can do for you.”
“Hey hermana. I know everyone is calling to check up on you, but we are worried. It’s been a week. Please let one of us know if you are okay.”
“Guadalupe Elisa Castañón! Por que no estas contestando tu telefono? Tus hermanos y yo estamos preocupados.”
“Lupita, it’s Nathan. Your sister is freaking out, and you know when she freaks out, I freak out. I know you are hurting because of that jerk, but… just please call someone.”
“It’s Nathan again. Please call your sister. I am man enough to admit that she scares me especially when she is holding my kitchen knives and mumbling your name.”
“Hey… Lup. Look, I know you said that I shouldn’t call you anymore but… I just… I wanted to say I’m sorry for the way we ended things. You have every right to hate me but… please don’t go underground and pull away from everyone. They all love you so fucking much… and so do I. I’m sorry.”
She deletes all of them but the last one, and she sets her phone on the pillow next to her that still smells like wood and pine. She hits the speaker button.
“… They all love you so fucking much…and so do I. I’m sorry.”
His voice sounded strangled and broken like her heart. She listens to the message a few more times until she threw her phone to the floor.
He left her one week and one day ago. He packed up his stuff and just left.
I love her. It just happened.
This is for the best.
We aren’t right for each other.
She despises him. She loathes him.
Three years of dating. And those two years of dating went down the drain like their relationship was expired fish. They were just starting their lives with great jobs that might be able to pay off their student loans, and they were insanely happy.
She hates him. His side of the closet and drawers were empty, but the little hints of him were everywhere in the apartment. He is connected to this place, and she wants those pieces of him to vanish like magic.
She hates him. She hates that she still loves him more than she hates him.
She grabbed her phone and left a voicemail: “You love her, and she loves you. And I love you but when did you stop loving me?”
There are seven photos of them together on the mantle in the living room. She can’t bring herself to take them down.
One is at Leo and Luke’s wedding. She was wearing her purple lace dress, he in his dark tux with a purple tie, and they were looking into each other’s eyes.
Another of them on their first hike together, facing the beautiful lake in front of them. She remembered that she asked another couple to take several photos of them.
One from their first Thanksgiving with his family and another from first Christmas with her family. Another from his graduation in the Master’s program.
But the one in the middle was her favorite. It was a selfie he took the night they first moved in, and she was passed out from exhaustion. Strands of her hair over her face and mouth open a little, but he was kissing her cheek while looking at the camera. He had this secret smile on his lips. He told her he didn’t have a secret smile. It was his happy smile.
She stares at them for too long. The anger burned through her veins, flowing like molten lava with its heat. She erupted. She pushed the photos off the mantle and watched the glass shatter onto the floor. But it didn’t make her feel better.
Your kiss still lingers on my lips.
Six weeks go by without her noticing. But it doesn’t mean that others ignored it. She would wake up alone, eat breakfast, go for a run before work and after work, come home, eats dinner, and go to bed alone.
Week after week. It was the same routine. Always come home alone.
Sometimes on the weekends her siblings and friends will stop by, always loud and uninvited but it makes the apartment feel less lonely and less quiet.
“You have to snap out of this,” Nathan tells her one weekend. “It’s been six weeks.”
She rolls her eyes, “Nice to know that you’ve been keeping count.”
“I’m not. You are. You cross out the days since he left, Lup. You have to forget about him.”
She scoffed. “We’ve been together for three years, and he was the love of my life. What would you do if Stella cheated on you and left you for another man?” She hates that she feels righteous and vindictive when she notices Nathan go still at that thought. He didn’t say anything. “Now you understand.”
Later, after Nathan leaves her apartment, she grabs her phone and leaves a text:
I can’t stand you not loving me and loving her instead.
She sent him another text: Who was I before you?
We need to talk.
She stared the four words on her phone. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest, and her hands were shaking. After months of packing up and leaving her, he finally decides to message her back. Although, she was more surprised that he didn’t change his number.
Tomorrow? Three at Peets?
She had three cookies before he came through the coffee shop doors. She wasn’t proud of it. It was either gain more weight or lose sleep because of the caffeine.
She was an hour early, he was five minutes late.
He looked different but also the same. The same cliché leather jacket, white shirt, and denim jeans but he got a haircut.
“When did you stop loving me?”
He let out a tired sigh. “I don’t know. I loved our life, but I wasn’t happy, and it’s not really your fault.”
“Really? Seriously?” He noticed her tone and flinched back.
“I can’t give you the right answer, Larissa. We were together for three years and I…got bored, relentless, unhappy with my life…with you. It was nothing physical at first with Ch –”
“You had an emotional affair with her, and then, it became physical right?” He nodded his head. She let out a deep breath.
“I loved you…and I do want you to be happy.”
Two weeks later, she sent him a box of the rest of his things that he left behind. His photos of his family and friends, extra socks, and everything from his workstation that she changed into hers. Everything in a box and closed for good.
One year later, he sent her a text saying that he is single and was wondering if she wanted to have a drink with him.
She responded: You can’t take me back because I have moved on.