_____She knows Morley is no good for her. End of the world stuff. His previous girls had 1) hung herself like a spring floral in her closet and 2) threw herself off the bridge bag of old laundry style.
_____But still there was the sex. Oozy and tingly and down to her toes. She would find herself thinking about it everywhere. Oh yes, the way he bit her lip. And yes, his calloused fingers.
_____One day, she is waiting for him to come by like he promised, and she gets a phone call from his wife. She is whisper quick and tells her that Morley himself is dead. Another lovergirl shot him jealous through the head. I am going through his cell phone, the wife says. With you, I’m only halfway through.
_____She thinks of her place in the alphabet. Mary. M. That’s only halfway through as well. She wonders about the X’s. There can’t possibly be an X. So maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems.
_____She thanks the wife who, as it turns out, has already moved on to the next.
It’s not pretty
_____leaving a man you promised to marry. Leaving him in the car as he drives you to your wedding. Leaving him in the empty parking lot near the drugstore where you pulled in that first night to pick up emergency condoms.
_____It’s not pretty how that all means nothing now. How the guests are waiting. How the preacher is waiting, how the man you promised to marry is about to become a white oval face in your memory as you slip out of the car, out of your wedding dress and run in your underwear, into the drug store, into the backroom behind the pharmacy section, into the arms of Hector, the delivery guy, who was always smart enough to bring his own condoms those sweet achy nights behind the garage while the man you promised to marry slept right upstairs.
_____And it’s not pretty how when you do slip into Hector’s arms, and feel his warm breath on your neck, you smell the faint perfume that Lucinda the night cashier always wears.
_____And how you hold off his kiss just long enough to look out the window to watch as the man you promised to marry picks up your empty wedding dress, props it up sitting in the passenger seat and drives off to go home and wait for your call the way he has done a hundred times before.
On Second Thought
_____I decide to return her gift. It doesn’t come from an honest place. It doesn’t come from love.
_____The gift is a cashmere scarf. How very chain-y of her. If I keep it, I will have to promise to meet her for lunch.
_____If I keep it, she will be able to cut me into multiple me’s, like a cartoon dog. I would still me, but there would be 16 me’s, and smaller, much smaller. Each one smiling and inviting her to tea.
_____I know if I keep it, I will never be able to shake her upside down out of my life. She will be a cereal box I keep putting back on the shelf because it’s not quite empty.
_____I know if I keep it, I will fall in love with the cool cashmereness of it, soft, like the way time softens a memory, how a friend stealing your man a time or two, can turn into a life lesson.
_____Like it was really a positive how she taught me how to watch for the want in other women’s eyes when I bring them around my man. Thank you, I might even learn to say to her. Over lunch. Over tea. As I sit there, my thumb stroking the lying pull of the cashmere. My other fingers frozen in disgust.
Francine Witte’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, Lost Balloon, Stonecoast Review, Moon Candy Review, and many others. Her latest books are Dressed Wrong for All This (Flash), The Theory of Flesh (Poetry), and The Way of the Wind (novella.) She lives in NYC.