by Jakob Ryce
I tried to break it to her gently. You know, the way elephants break through the branches of trees in the Savanna, or the way criminals break into a bank.
“It’s not you,” I said, then waited a moment, “it’s you,” I added.
She did a double take. “It’s not you it’s you?”
“That’s right,” I said. “Sometimes it’s you, and then sometimes you’re completely innocent.”
She clearly didn’t. She glared at me, her rosy lips tightened. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
I scratched at my early morning mop of hair. “Sure it does,” I took a sip from my coffee. “Sometimes you’re great … and then other times … you’re not so great. Sometimes you’re awesome and then other times—”
“Not so awesome?” she said with a murderous look in her eyes.
I looked up at her sheepishly. “Yes,” I replied.
She forced an irritable breath. “That’s everyone. Everyone is like that.”
I shook me head slowly. “Not necessarily.”
“You’re like that! One day you’re OK, the next day you’re a total arsehole. So no Rick … it’s not you it’s YOU!”
I made my face into crumpled cardboard. “You can’t use my own line back at me.”
“Because it’s my line! Besides I’m the one breaking up with you.”
Her face dropped. “You’re breaking up with me?”
I watched as her eyes widened like soft wet balloons. Then came the tears. “You selfish arsehole!” she grabbed a handful of clothes from the sofa and tossed them into my face. “And you know what Rick? I already broke up with you two days ago, so take that pill and swallow it.”
“Two days ago?”
“When? I don’t remember.”
She looked stupefied. “I told you while you were in bed.”
I searched her face. “Did I happen to be, I dunno … sleeping Beth?”
Her brows came together. “People can hear everything even when they’re sleeping. Ever heard of a coma Rick? People in comas can actually hear other people talking to them. It’s one of the reasons they survive.”
I stared at her blankly. “I know what you’re doing.”
“What am I doing?”
“You’re trying to win the breakup.”
She laughed. “Win the breakup?”
I nodded. “I know you well enough. You have to always win don’t you. Even now when I’m clearly breaking up with you, you have to turn it around.”
She glared at me, turquoise eyes that could change colour, hypnotic, dangerous. I looked away. “I broke up with you, and yes, while you were sleeping,” she said. “I was just waiting for the right time to tell you.”
I shook my head and kept my eyes lowered. “I’m not doing this.”
“This. I’m not doing this.”
I gazed up. Her eyes were swimming now, and I was wading in. “Beth listen.”
She wiped at her face. “You’re an idiot. Come here.”
I embraced her. We kissed softly.
Screw regret. It’s not you it’s me, I thought.