How to Break My Heart in 5 Easy Steps

Aug 03  |  Lin Morris
  1. Tell Our Secrets
    I’m ironing my fanciest white dress shirt, starting at the collar like my mother taught me, thinking about the night we met.
    Cassie, so excited to introduce us at her party.
    “Oh!” you said.
    “Oh!” I said. “Hello!”
    Cassie flicked her eyes over us. “You boys know each other?”
    “Funny story,” you said. “Aaron blew me in a booth at Adult World not three hours ago.” You even looked at your watch for comic effect.
    “See, I knew you’d like each other!” Cassie drunkenly laughed, raising her cocktail glass. “Serendipity!”
    I admit, it’s a funny story. Everyone roared as it whipped around the party. Kept between us, it would’ve been an awesome private joke, a naughty secret, but you told it every single time anyone asked how we met.
    Weeks later, it became our first fight because – you said – I wouldn’t let it go.
  2. Keep Your Distance
    The yoke. Heavily stitched areas first, creating the core from which to iron downward…
    Yes, I know: you promised me nothing. Kept it stringless. You liked my company, we laughed easily. The sex was insane.
    “We have fun together, don’t we? Why can’t it just be what it is, Aaron?”
    You glided so casually through the world, a warm knife through butter; or, in my less-generous moods, a shark fin slicing the calm waters.
    We fought because – you said – I didn’t live in the now.
  3. Work Too Much
    The shirt body. Smoothing strokes…
    You never lied about it, I’ll give you that. You said your career was the most important thing in the world to you. But, after rough days at work, you treated me like the balm, the oasis. And I convinced myself that, somehow, I would eventually come first.
    I suggested not working such ridiculous hours. We fought because – you said – I wasn’t being supportive.
  4. Move Away
    Shoulders and sleeves. Armholes to cuffs…
    You were offered the career-defining opportunity you’d longed for, two hundred miles away. It took me days to get up the nerve to suggest I move with you.
    “Why?” The look on your face of genuine confusion. “I’d never ask you to uproot your life.”
    And we fought, bitterly, because – you said – I was being clingy.
  5. Marry Someone Else
    The placket, carefully maneuvering around the buttons and holes. The most visible part of a shirt and therefore saved for last…
    Naturally, we drifted apart, given the physical distance. We hooked up, twice, at a point somewhere between our two cities. But I didn’t realize we’d drifted so far until I received your wedding invitation.
    How did he slow your casual glide, this other man, when I never could?
    Shirt pressed, suit on, now driving to your wedding.
    To someone who’s not me.
    I’ll congratulate you with air kisses, with feigned happiness.
    But we won’t fight because – I say – you will never be allowed to see the depth of my grief. Nor how, in my distraction, I scorched the left shoulder of my shirt, leaving a dark, ugly scar.
One Comment
  1. Victor4 months ago

    Wonderfully written. I felt every emotion.

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