X-Ray #1

11/8/02. 3:05am RST. Bed.

…This is when she walks in with David, who knows the whole ugly history and quickly disappears, leaving us alone in that office under the stairs, and I smile although the gut area is starting to feel like the wound I thought had healed is opening back up, and she says they went to lunch to kill some time until I came in so she could say goodbye, and I’m thinking what I should have done was call in sick for the whole day and leave the house, and she reaches up and gives me what would normally be a great hug, which I return less than half-heartedly, maybe quarter-heartedly at best, and I close my eyes and she says the same stuff I’d read earlier, the stuff that’s now in that garbage can at home, and she’s all clichés now about how she’s sorry it turned out this way blah blah, and she’s going to miss me blah blah, and my mind is flipping around to see if there’s something less predictable on some other channel, and she’s sniffling a little and she’s gotta go and she’s playing to the imaginary crowd, and finally I say the one thing I will say to her that day, just a few words, the only thing I can come up with, and it’s the last thing I’ll ever say to her, I hope, and four years later I’m proud to say it still is, and four years later I still think about her every single day and desperately hope I never see her again because deep in that metaphysical place I know I really want to, and four years later I’m still not sure why I said it, I had to say something, but I don’t know why that’s all I could think of, and I wonder if she remembers how she said goodbye and all the pleasantries afterward, and I didn’t say anything else, just smiled and watched her finally getting the hell out of my life, and it really was an odd thing to say, not the kind of thing you’d see in a script somewhere but absolutely perfect, that simple, honest sentence, beautiful in its sincerity and a fittingly pathetic whimper for the whole thing to go out on.

I said, “I got your card.”