Zoe

Melissa Miles McCarter
Jul 30 · 7 min read
Lacie Slezak in Unsplash

Zoe made Joe crazy. Not being in love, life is a bowl of cherries, type of crazy, but a boiling insipid insanity that gathered like drips from a leaky faucet at the bottom of his mind.

Crazy is as crazy does, and perhaps his craziness was in picking Zoe in the first place. He should have known, he kept saying to himself, that life with Zoe wasn’t going to be easy. But did she have to remind him of this every second of the day?

Joe and Zoe, Zoe and Joe, at first those words slipped off of his lips in glorious globules of love. Now all day and all night, all he could hear was Zoe, Zoe, Zoe, with Joe struggling to escape from any association with her name.

Zoe’s screechy voice would invade his space constantly, a frenzied insistence that hopped from one moment to another. He listened, at first, with rapt attention. In fact, early on, he wanted to hear her every second of the day. What a fool he was, he actually encouraged her, saying dangerous things like tell me a story, sing me a song, keep talking, say anything.

Initially, Zoe’s zaniness was exciting, it opened up his secure little world to other possibilities. His world became Zoe’s world, the world of Great Happiness, Great Adventures, Great Hope — And yet, on the otherside, when living in a world of such extremes, comes even Greater Awareness, Greater Responsibilities, Greater Pain. But, since he was new in this world, he was pleased with his girlfriend’s apparent looniness, pleased with her sharp offense against blandness. At first, he didn’t know any better, he told himself.

Yet, the drip, drip, dripness of her twenty-four hours “life is a stage” attitude began to tire him. It snuck up on him, the exhaustion slowly eating at his tolerance, replacing his craving for Zoe with a craving for peace.

One May afternoon, in the comfort of his own home, Zoe, seemingly for no reason, stopped preparing the pizza muffins, and swiftly threw them at him. He stared down at his feet and saw the pizza sauce dripping of off the muffin, onto his nice clean white tennis shoes. He considered, for a moment, how much that muffin was worth, and pushed out of his mind the thought that perhaps it was still edible. Alas, it was a pizza muffin wasted. He was indignant; he was enraged. How dare she do this to his pizza muffin? Did she think that pizza muffins grew on trees?

He didn’t verbalize any of this to her, and he stood there staring at the person who was supposed to be his beloved girlfriend, considering the repercussions of her drastic action, this extreme act of violence. What should he do? He stood there pondering over this. Of course, he ended up doing nothing.

Zoe began yelling at him. He couldn’t hear the words. He was too stunned. How dare she yell at me, after this…this pizza muffin violence? Suddenly, Zoe ran out of the kitchen, and then was running out of his house, crying.

Crying? Had he hurt her? His indignation subsided, and he contemplated the various courses of actions available to him. He ran after her. Of course Joe ran out after her! He was a sensitive male. He ran after her, and deftly subdued her.

He apologized, took responsibility for the whole incident, don’t cry, don’t cry, it was my fault. Did it really matter that he didn’t really know what he apologized for? He had long ago found out that with Zoe, it didn’t really matter — going through the motions, seeming to care, was all that really mattered. Crazy is as crazy does, and his actions, he felt, were beyond the call of duty.

Yet, inside, the drips were almost drowning him.

Now where was Zoe in all of this? Did she enjoy this — this making Joe miserable? Of course, Zoe, was also almost drowning in her own “insanity.” However, when she was alone, she wasn’t crazy — she was creative, emotional, witty, and beautiful, but not crazy. When she was with friends (i.e. Marissa) she was symbiotic, uncanny, syncronized, and beautiful, but not insane. So, it was an educated, well thought out, conclusion that she made: Being with Joe was creating this consuming identity. Being with Joe made her crazy!

Of course, for some reason, this didn’t really bother her too much. Was being crazy really that terrible? Was it really that inconvenient, would mental health make her life much better? Was sanity all that it was cracked up to be? From her own experience, she didn’t really think so.

However, she did think about doing something about it, she thought about talking about this with Joe, asking him what he thought. But then high school ended and college began and, amazingly, they developed a more peaceful relationship. It happened without them noticing, at first, both of them so involved in preparing for college, that they didn’t notice the change. Slowly, they noticed, they had developed into an aggravated sense of security.

One September day, after they moved into their respective dorms, and began their respective lives, they met one another for lunch. They each brought a book, and sat together, ate together, and read together. It was a very pleasant time, Joe noticed, actually quite relaxing.

He watched her head bent over the book in intense concentration, and sighed with satisfaction. He felt like he was floating peacefully, an ocean of calmness surrounding, encasing, his whole body, the salt water massaging him. He reclined on his back, looking up at the blue cloudless sky, breathing slowly and deeply. What a perfect day! He was in love, he was happy, he had no cares in the world. What more can I ask for? He listened closely, listened to Zoe’s breathing, the flipping of the pages of her book. Was there ever a more beautiful sound?

They sat beside each other that whole hour. Zoe didn’t push for intimacy, and Joe didn’t pull away. There was no yelling, since no one spoke. They simply were together, existing side by side, enjoying their respective books, and on the side, each other’s company.

There was no bell to dramatically end lunch, as there was in high school, so only Joe’s wrist watch signaled the slipping away of the time. Zoe looked up, closed her book, stretched, and reached over to kiss him. There were no dramatic proclamations of love, everything had gone very smoothly, and they walked to their respective classes, alone.

Their days together were smooth, except for some minor moments that neither of them spoke of, and Zoe got to see what she had been missing before. Eventually, Zoe realized that craziness did have some repercussions — that her energy had in the past been divided — either she acted crazy with Joe, or she wrote. And in their two years together, rarely did she write on the page in front of her. In their new found calmness, Zoe began to write.

Joe’s existence faded into the background as Zoe would adore her new found escape. When she felt angry, so angry that she couldn’t see anything but Joe’s dead body, she wrote. When happiness interrupted her peacefulness with extreme bouts of energy, she didn’t force Joe to experience it with her. She wrote. Joe felt relieved that he could sleep without Zoe’s urgent revelations slapping him awake every moment of the day.

Our relationship is so great, Joe would think to himself, I get Zoe after she has calmed down! He watched Zoe as she furiously scribbled on page, after page, after page. He watched her run towards him after class, bouncing estatically, obviously bubbling over, and then stop short, and sit next to him to write. He suddenly had all this free time, his every moment wasn’t centered on Zoe. Again, Joe and Zoe were words he relished in repeating over and over, for now he wasn’t gasping for air. Now, when he woke up in the morning, he had choices, he could decide for himself what he wanted to do, and it didn’t neccessarily involve Zoe, because, the chances were that Zoe was busy writing.

However, soon Zoe needed an audience, again, but this time for all the new stories she wrote, and Joe’s sleep would again be interrupted. He was faced with volumes of pages, and the awful phrase, “What do you think?”

She was out of control! Nothing was more important than her writing. “Look, Zoe, I am going to the bathroom.” But What Do You Think? Joe believed that Zoe had conceived of an elaborate plan to torture Joe, an elaborate plan to suck every thought out of his head, to make him into a walking zombie who would obey her every command.

Just please let me not read this one page, I’ll do anything! But no matter how much he pleaded, how much he begged, he was trapped. He was trapped because he hadn’t realised that if she actually wrote all these pages, if he was granted all that peace and quiet time, that, God, he had adored, there would be consequences. Yes, it had been a pact with the devil — he would have to read her writing. That was the law in the world of boyfriends, and no matter how much he tried to ignore this fact, he was bound by this law. He had to face reality: Girlfriends are tyrants.

However, this time her efforts were planned in advance, her stratergy fool-proof, her attack coordinated. This time her revelations were organized, her energies channeled and here the story began.


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Stories Publi

Creative writing, fiction, poetry and non-fiction publication. We believe that everyone has a story to tell!

Melissa Miles McCarter

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I live in a rural Civil War era home under constant renovation with my husband, stepson and daughter. Read more at https://medium.com/melissa-miles-mccarter

Stories Publi

Creative writing, fiction, poetry and non-fiction publication. We believe that everyone has a story to tell!

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