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  • Jay

Mourning After.


The oak-colored ceiling fan spun quickly. I attempted to catch a blade and count the number of twirls it’d take per minute before my new and very heavy-footed neighbor woke, stomping around above my head.

The spirits had worn off quickly, and what I once labeled adventurousness in the heat of the moment had quickly turned to mortification.

Overwhelmed by both his overstayed presence and the lingering stench of tequila on his morning breath, I turned my back to him and retreated into the only safe space available, being that my bed was currently still occupied. My thoughts welcomed me with open arms as I replayed the repulsive events of the night before.

I’d spent the last 365 days, a sexual recluse while navigating my heartache, only for the pressure to sit me atop a horse in which I lacked unfeigned interest. “The best way to get over one man is to get under another,” they said; but I’ve discovered that to be nothing more than a myth created by women who wanted to feel better about how quickly they evade what they really feel. I was now reduced to the current societal trend consisting of one-night flings and emotional unavailability; the complete opposite of who I knew I was. Heartbreak was the murderer of my lover girl disposition, and I mourned her transition as the slow minutes of a new dawn approached.

I held my breath as he shuffled in his sleep, fearful that he’d wake still drunk from hours before and want to talk more about him being steady with me. We laid there with only the thread count of the jumbled sheets between us. He changed positions and continued to dream his dreams.

My first encounter since becoming the poster girl for hopeless romantics everywhere left much to be desired. It was the furthest thing from a genuine connection and more so a silent and awkward transactional exchange. To be honest, he hadn’t known my depth, and I didn’t care to know his either.

A short-term colleague before, so I’d only known him as well as the next woman. The romantic tension during that time was so thick that a knife would rather cower than attempt to cut through it. I found him interesting then when he was clean-cut, quiet, and mysterious. I know now that that’s the only thing I found intriguing about him, but if only I’d learned this sooner. It’s true, the saying that time changes people. I wondered if that was the case here. I wonder if there was more to him beneath the surface, protected by the depths of his deep brown skin. More to him than the drunken antics of last night. Unfortunately, I’d already decided that as soon as his eyes opened, I’d have his things stacked neatly by the front door so there’d be no more room for research and discovery.

My phone pinged loudly against my acrylic nightstand. Once. Twice. Three times in a row. I could sense a curious group chat from a mile away.

Wrapping myself in my floral kimono, I crept quietly out of bed, down the hall, and into the bathroom where the plethora of skincare items waited for our regular morning routine. I listened to the water run for what felt like ever before cupping it into my hands and splashing the shame from my face.

I was skilled at forgetting things that evoked shameful or painful memories and had vowed to get started as soon as he’d gone. As I closed the medicine cabinet, another memory I couldn’t seem to let go of fell to the floor. The ticket for flight #4731 to Baltimore, September 2021.

It was almost inevitable now, the way you found your way back into my mind when I tried to get on with my life. Two years later and I still missed you as if we’d just called it quits yesterday. I hated that fact more and more each day. I pulled the toilet lid down and sat in silence staring at the crinkled ticket as if it were some magic portal to a happier place in time. I kept hearing my girlfriends say “it’s time to get over it and move on. The best way to get over one man is to get under another.” It sounded like a broken record now, skipping on the part where it hurt the most.

I cried for 15 minutes over the man I loved while a man who knew nothing of my likes and interests lay asleep in the other room.

After drying my red eyes and re-emerging from the bathroom, I gathered Mr. Last Night’s things and stacked them near the door. From where I stood, I could hear my phone ping loudly against the nightstand again. Once. Twice. Three more times in a row.

In my haste to reach over and silence my notifications, I’d accidentally knocked his phone to the floor. He jumped from his sleep, briefly disoriented, before his eyes met mine.

“Good morning, beautiful.”

“Hey. Good morning. I’m so sorry to wake you, but I’ve got an engagement I need to get ready for. Your things are already by the door.”

He begrudgingly walked his walk of shame and I began my process of forgetting everything about him, starting with his name.


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