There’s been a lot of fighting. Sometimes it seems as if that’s all there is, fighting and then the occasional sandwich. Lately it’s been hard to tell if she’s going to miss him or that sandwich shop more.
“I don’t want to fight like this. I don’t want to fight anymore, period. I’m done fighting. If you’re not, that’s your choice, but know the next time you start a fight, that’s it. We’re over.”
He says nothing until three weeks later when he says something defensive and brutal. “Don’t ever say that to me again,” she says, nostrils flaring, head thrown back high like a horse in battle. “In fact, don’t ever say anything to me again.” He starts to speak. She disconnects the call.
“You have two options. Option A, we can be together and work through whatever it is that got us here, including whatever’s going on with you. Together. As a couple. Option B, we’re over. I mean really over. No more talking, no more seeing each other, no more accidentally sleeping together.”
“Why can’t we just be friends who have dinner occasionally and talk? We can still stay close.”
“By dinner you mean have sex and by talk you mean I’ll give you emotional support.”
“I mean…No, not when you say it like that. But that’s what I want.”
“That’s option C. That’s what’s been going on these past few weeks, and it’s terrible. You get the benefit of me as your girlfriend without you having to deal with the responsibilities of being a boyfriend. It’s not an available option.”
“But why not? Why can’t we do that?”
“Are you serious? Do you not remember the past five months? Or the two and a half years before that?”
“I need to work through all my stuff alone. It’s my own journey. But I still want to be able to talk to you about everything.”
“I don’t want to do this anymore.”
He told the best jokes when they met. She remembers being in the car beside him, wiping away tears, crying and laughing so hard she made almost no sound.
Two months of good stories and exceptional homemade salsa.
Then nine months went by and he made fewer and fewer jokes. Fewer funny ones, anyway. There were the ones he made at her expense, and she cried at those too.
It took another nine months for her to stop looking for an answer. One day, standing over a bowl of cookie dough, a friend told her about him and his new girlfriend. She thought about this girl, felt sorry for her laughing at all the same stories he’d told countless times, falling for him on one of his good days.
Oh, she thought to herself. That’s been the answer all along.