"Hey, listen, about your boyfriend-"
"If you saw him with someone else, it's okay, we broke up," I told my roommate as she came in.
"Why don't you look devastated?"
Because I'm pretending to be tough. Duh. "'Cause I'm not."
"Why not? I thought you loved him."
Still do. "Yeah, well, the whole thing was a joke."
"So you're joking?"
She stared at me, waiting for an explanation.
"The relationship was the joke."
"I thought you guys were serious?"
"I thought so too."
"This morning when he said he couldn't be with me anymore."
"Did he say why?"
"'Cause he realized he was in love."
"With someone else?"
"And that's a bad thing because?"
"'Cause according to him, he's immortal. And if he stays, he'd eventually have to watch me die someday."
"And he said the pain would be unbearable?"
"You're kidding, right?"
"Who the fuck are you two, Arwen and Aragorn?"
"Maybe he was just joking."
I'm actually waiting for him to call and say that he was. "No, he's not much of a joker."
"Well, what did you tell him?"
"Thanks for the effort."
"In the relationship?"
"In the breakup."
She stared at me again.
"You know, the creativity. Most guys would have just said It's not you, its me, or I need space."
"Or You deserve better than me."
"Exactly. He, on the other hand, came up with an elaborate story."
"How elaborate are we talking about?"
"A curse that dates back to the 17th century."
"What a jerk. Go on."
"You mean his great-to-the-nth-level-grandfather?"
"No, just grandfather. He's immortal, remember?"
"Fuck, he's old?"
"Anyway, his grandfather cut down a tree."
"And this tree was home to some bitchy spirits?"
"No, he was slightly more original than that. The tree was a witch. Cursed by a rival witch."
"A curse within a curse. Curseption."
I managed a tiny smile.
"And this witch-tree cursed his grandfather?"
"And the curse was?"
"That he and his every male descendant are to be immortal, forever deprived of relief from the greatest form of suffering."
"Life. A little dramatic but interesting."
"I know, it's stupid."
"What about his dad and grandpa? Where are they?"
"If I'd asked, he probably would have said Bulgaria or New Orleans."
"One of those vampirey, witchy places, huh? That'd explain why you'd never met them. What about him, is he leaving?"
"Oh my god!"
"Oh my god!!!"
"Maybe he's terminally ill, and he left you only because he didn't want your last memory of him to be that of a poor, miserable, dying person!"
"So basically our breakup is a ripoff of The Lord of the Rings, Inception and Sweet November?"
She gave me a smile. A smile that said I feel super sorry for you but I'm also super glad I'm not you.
I rolled my eyes and started coughing, to stop stupid tears of self-pity from flowing.
"How long were you together?"
"One year, four months."
"Relationships that lasted over a year deserve a proper breakup party. Dress up, we're going out!"
"No, no, thanks, I'm fine."
"Wanna watch a movie instead? Get drunk on popcorn and beer? Oh my god, I just downloaded all six Star Wars movies! Up for a marathon?"
I smiled. "That sounds better."
"Okay, let me get my MacBook, it's downstairs."
She stood up and left the room.
"So who was he with?" I was almost too afraid to ask.
"How would I know?!" she yelled from the stairs.
"Well, what were you gonna say earlier about him?!" I yelled back.
"Oh, yeah! Check out the encyclopedia! Came across a soldier at the library! Looks a lot like him!"
I searched her purse.
Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia No. 27. A bookmark on page 817. The First World War.
A rush of relief washed over me.
Maybe he wasn't lying after all.