A Flash Fiction by Ben Wrixon
Relationships are like milk.
My friend told me before my first date with Her. We were drinking at the bar as part of our regular pre-game routine. I fell asleep confused after stumbling home, but woke up feeling stupid. Generations of dysfunctional men have passed down that metaphor to warn each other about being attached to something (or someone) that might curdle.
Exhibit A: my parent’s marriage.
Too different and married much too young to work through those differences together, they convinced themselves that changing for someone was self-betrayal, not unlike most people in their mid-twenties. Nonetheless, I’ve always been thankful they ended before I grew out of my diapers. I’m lucky to not have lived my childhood through their fights. Sometimes I wonder whether their flame could be rekindled, but I know the stubborn calluses that drove them apart have only hardened with time. Sometimes broken is better.
Their split has become my greatest teacher.
I first met Her in a sweaty t-shirt with shaking heads. When she smiled at me, I looked over my shoulder, figuring she’d seen someone better. Despite all my worries, the thought of Her in my life excited me. Her giggly laugh made me laugh, too. Her ornate jewelry commanded my attention. Our conversation almost sucked me in enough to forget, yet I walked home with hardwired skepticism. My errors weren’t reprogrammable.
Relationships are temporary, but children of divorce are forever.
Now we’ve been dating for two years.
Life is different than before we started. Sometimes I still go out with the guys, but our wallets are empty, and we’re all busier with school work. Catching up with them (when it does happen) is admittedly fun, though spending time with Her still beats walking home drunk and cold and contemplating my existence. It’s all simpler now.
My parents remarried—to different people, of course.
I have my doubts, but I’m happy for them. Seeing my dad settle down after fifteen years of playing girlfriend roulette gives me hope. She’s nice. My mother has only dated selectively since their messy divorce, so I’m relieved she’s found someone suitable. He’s nice, too. They all deserve someone to hold onto during their loneliest nights.
I might have stopped hoping, but I still wonder.
Sometimes I also wonder about Her and me. We’ve spent a couple birthdays and Christmases together, even done a little vacation. I almost had enough fun to trick myself into thinking life won’t drive a stake between us. That doubt is usually buried below my intestines, but on the worst days, it’s in my esophagus like a sore throat. I feel it most when we’re just coasting through our attached life on borrowed time.
Sometimes I miss being alone.
Being single was less stressful. I felt more at peace when our emotions weren’t intertwined. Love is intoxicating; Her unrelenting needs and desires consume my fragile psyche. She says she loves me for who I am, but I haven’t been myself in two years.
Will she ever know me?
Maybe. We could be meant to last.
The first time that thought wormed into my brain, Her and I were curled up on the couch watching a TV show. For whatever reason, everything finally made sense to me after living a lifetime of confusion. While it wouldn’t be easy, I realized I could put my fears aside to believe in forever with Her. Us. But like all things, our moment expired.
My stomach churned when I kissed her cheek.
Ben Wrixon is an emerging Canadian writer whose work was first recognized by the Stephen Leacock association. He studies psychology at Queen’s University. When Ben isn’t writing, he’s most likely playing guitar and cheering on his favourite sports Toronto-based sports teams.