• Stephen Thompson

At that moment, in the heat of my hurt, in the fire of her fury, right before she hauled out, I thought about Dr King. Free at last ... Free as a thought expressed, free to be the person she first admired then came to detest, the one who used to hide under a veil of pretence and wore out the balls of his feet trying to raise himself up to her self-elevated height. Am I to blame for the way she caged and clipped me? No doubt. I brought it on myself. Go ahead, I told her, use me. If it pleases you, then sure, abuse me. And she did. You're fucking lazy. You lack ambition. She’s right, but I'm also the person who used to give her piggybacks when she was too drunk to walk and always remembered her birthday and our countless anniversaries. That not count for anything?

Depression's got me pinned to the couch like a sumo. Can't keep the tears from my eyes. It's an effort to change the TV channels. If this is how freedom tastes, pass me a mint. If this is how it smells, fling open the windows. Why doesn’t she call? Friend: ‘You gotta get over this.’ Yes but how? How to untie the noose of her memory from around my throat? Can barely breathe for thinking about her dimples, her ‘I heart NY’ T-shirt, the sweet scent of her practicality that always kept our fridge stocked and our bills from going unpaid.

I wonder how long before she starts dating again. I dread hearing she's got a new beau, although, if forced to choose, I’d sooner hear about it than see it, sooner suffer the tortures of my imagination than be run through by the cold steel of reality. Is this who I’ve become, the guy who conducts post-mortems on his dead relationships? The scalpel feels unwieldy in my hand, I find it hard to make the necessary incisions, but how else to know which parts of our love became diseased?

Is she doing the same? Is she, like me, desperate to discover where it all went wrong? Probably not. Knowing her, she’s more likely to be backpacking than backtracking, she’s always been a forward-looking kinda gal. For her, the next staging post will already be in view. She’ll be bounding towards it with unseemly haste, leaving me alone on this low wall, so rough, so uncomfortable, hewn from the sharp, flinty rock of my anger and disappointment.

‘This too shall pass’. If talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity then I’m destined for Bellevue. Certainly lost my confidence. It's the rejection. You feel so worthless, as if you didn’t deserve to have her trim your beard or wrap a scarf around your neck against the winter chill or be told by her that your skin’s drying out and that you should eat more oily fish and drink more water.

A new mystery to unravel, that would help, but I don’t tend to meet many women lying in bed all day. Friend: ‘Do something. Take up a hobby. Get down the gym’. If only. I long worked out that working out doesn’t work for me. My body’s not designed for muscles, any more than my mind is designed for delusions. Positive thinking? No thanks. I don’t do Zen. I know I’ll never mend. I am, irreparably, broken.