My mom was very much alive at ten in the morning, pouring a cup of coffee.
“There you are.”
“Were you at Tara’s?”
“I figured.” I sit down at the oak kitchen table. “Hung over?” I ever so cautiously nod my head, silently telling her
“Here’s a cup of coffee, just the way you like it.” I take a sip.
“Mom, I need your advice.”
“I need your forgiveness.” We look into each others eyes, and smile in unison. “Go ahead.”
“I want to break up with Danny.” She almost choked on her coffee. “I’m serious, I want out of this awful relationship.”
“That came at me, very suddenly. Did you two have another fight? The boy must have called here seven or eight times last
“He called my cell phone 12 times. 12 times mom. Who does that? And no, we are not in a fight. Why does
everybody assume that’s the reason why I come back home?” I lift up the coffee cup, inhaling the aroma, which only contributed to my churning stomach. The citrus toxic bubbles churned
around the hallow hole called my stomach. For the first time in my entire life, I did not want a cup of coffee.
“Matty, it seems that the only time you actually come home, is when Danny and you are fighting. I kind of have to assume
that.” I push the ex-love of my life further away from me. “So tell me, why do you want to end the awful relationship?”
“Please don’t mock me mom, I am serious.” She pushes the coffee cup back towards me.
“Drink it and tell me. I promise I will not mock you.”
“Not every part of our relationship is awful. But the bad, lately, definitely weighs out the good. We had a great summer
mom. It was like he warped into the man I use to fantasize about during geometry. The moment we left our little hide-a-way, he transformed back into regular Danny and I turned into
miserable Matty. I should have let my mind have a long talk with my heart then. My heart yearns for me. I’ve lost myself throughout this relationship. Nothing is mine anymore.”
Two-tone wobbles out of the bedroom staring up at me with tears filling his eyes. “Except for you.” I pick him up and place him on my lap. “Mom, Tara has seen it since the second
month. I ignored not only the obvious signs, but my best friend, who almost gave up on me. He had the blanket of comfort hovering over me for almost two years, and stupid me cuddled right
At that moment, my cell phone rings.
“Ignore it.” I look down at Two-tone and a lump in my throat starts to form. I did not want to cry. If I did, I
would bawl and I could never let my mom, who was so passive with her own relationship with my father, see me break down. “Drink your coffee.” I take a sip, hoping the suddenly awful
coffee would wash away the lump.“Do you want to know how I ended it with your father?”
“That’s why I asked you for advice mom.”
I sat back, with Two-tone now fast asleep on my lap and was ready to listen to my mom, whole heartedly and with an open mind.
“I looked at myself in the mirror one day and realized that I have a group of wrinkles on the outside corners of both of my
eyes. Then I noticed the one on my chin and a few on my cheeks. I flipped out. My life flashed before my eyes. My girlfriends had been telling me for years that Stan, your
father, and I are a train wreck, but I was too afraid to do anything about it. Yes, of course for you, but mostly for myself. In my mind I assumed that all of the many, many fish in the
sea were either pigs or married or looking for a blonde or someone thinner.”
In my mind, every other single lady, living in her prime, paled in comparison to Anne Nottingham. She is naturally
petite. Her auburn hair places its nest on her shoulder blades. Her hair, pin straight and always parted perfectly down the middle. Her blue eyes are hers. When the sunlight
hits them, you swear you can see your own reflection in her eyes. In my mind, my mother is the most gorgeous woman alive.
“So, I stayed with my very own awful comfort. I continued to look, deeper, into the depths of each single wrinkle and
realized that each wrinkle did not represent physical appearance. They represent me. I’ve missed out Matty. Due to our stubbornness, we’ve ruined your childhood. I know it, now,
and I will forever be sorry for that.”
I took a long shower, allowing the water to wash away the dirty hangover. Danny called twice while I was in the shower, which
would make a total of 15 missed phone calls from him.
I put on a maroon satin robe that was hanging on the back of the bedroom door, let my hair hang loose, and fluff one of the
pillows on the bed. I at least needed to be comfortable when hearing the wrath of one of the most miserable people I know.
“Why the fuck are you calling me? You know the rule. Did somebody die? Please tell me that somebody died.” It was only
noon and I clearly knew that I was breaking Shane's one and only rule.
“I need you to tell me how to beak up with a guy.” I chose Shane over Tara. The one major difference between them, is
that Shane has had his heart broken by another.
“You’re leaving the fucking pansy? It's about fucking time!”
His reaction did not surprise me; it was expected.
"Would you mind telling me of an experience you've had...breaking up with a significant other?"
“Which one would you like me to tell you about? There’s been a lot.”
“Which one, if you can decipher, meant the most to you?” There was a good ten second pause before he answered my question.
“If any of them actually meant something to me, I’d still be with one of them.”
“Which one was…maybe the hardest for you to break the news to?”
“Codie.” I should have known. Codie was the one who helped Shane come to terms with his sexuality. Codie was his
first everything. “Definitely Codie.”
“How did you do it?” Two-tone was curled up into a ball on my lap, with his head rested on my stomach.
“I remember a shit load of tears from both of us. Be prepared for a shit load of tears.”
I close my eyes as Shane tells the story.
“I was 18, in his apartment, pacing back and forth, waiting for Codie to come back from class. I knew he had classes
throughout the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to pack my clothes and toiletries. I had one hand on the handle of a suitcase and the other on my heart. I thought, just maybe my hand
could stop the fucker from going crazy. The big hand reached four and Codie, with a smile on his face barged in to the apartment. I thought my heart had literally stopped.” It is
extremely rare for Shane to be this serious. But when the moment arrives, he becomes the very reason why he is so important to me.
“Codie always looked in my eyes, so it took him a second to realize that my gaze did not match his. He looked down, to see my
suitcase. He was completely thrown off course. Poor boy actually thought that maybe there had been a death in my family. I shook my head no, facing the floor. He asked every
question imaginable that didn’t pertain to the obvious.” Shane was cheating on Codie, who was convinced that what the two of them shared was pure, genuine love. “Devon was experienced; he
turned on the light for me. I had just realized who I was for the first time in my life...I was confused and lost.”
Right then, the light had just turned on for me.
“Codie was set. He wanted me and that was it and that scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know how to cope with the new
me. I needed to experience to understand it.”
“What were your exact words?”
“You can’t use them Matty. You need to figure it out yourself. My advice for you is, speak from your heart.”
My heart pumped, loud and clear. Danny is not open or understanding enough to deal with what my heart was saying. This
was going to be hard. Probably the hardest thing I would ever have to do.
I flip open Kevin and Denise Salinski’s cell phone to dial their son's number.
“Matty, where the hell have you been?”
“Home. Will you meet me somewhere?” I start walking down 3rd avenue.
“I’ve called you about 12 times.”
“Try 15 times. I've been here the entire time, taking care of a few things.”
“You should have called me back. I was worried sick.” I exhale a huge release of intense annoyance. His worry
literally made the hangover pound harder against the liner of my stomach.
“Danny, you knew I had a lot do here. You were the one who said this didn’t have anything to do with you. You were the
one that reminded me that I needed to do this alone. So I’m sorry if I didn’t answer each and every one of your 15 phone calls. I’m alive, so there's no need to worry. Now, please,
can you meet me?”
I turn left down Grace Street where all the houses are built the exact same way, but each house is a different shade of
pastel. The houses are absurd and ridiculous.
“Sure. Where? Latham? Clifton Park?” Isn’t it great that he suggests the two places where he prefers to meet?
“No.” I look ahead at the gate entrance to Sandyville City Park, about four yards ahead of where I was
standing. “Sandyville City Park.”
“You want me to drive all the way up there?”
“Yes. I do.” This time the puff of annoyance came out of his mouth. My fist automatically tightens. “It’ll
take you 20 minutes, tops, to get here. It’s not a big deal.”
There was a dead silence between us. I’m sure the deadening sound placed all of its awkwardness directly on to
him. “I’ll be sitting on the park bench in front of the fountain. You can’t miss me.” I hang up the phone without saying goodbye.
The fountain is legendary for spiking it with dish detergent and after prom skinny dipping. The fountain is also legendary to
my teenage thoughts. Tara understood an unstable home. Her mom is a single mother, who works two jobs and parties till the wee hours of the night. Tara’s dad walked away from her mom
the moment the words “I’m pregnant” came out of her mouth. Though, she never knew exactly what to say or how to act when the words, “fucking bitch” blustered out of my father’s mouth. Tara and
her mom never had to endure such volatile family drama. In fact, compared to the Bianco house, the Johnson house was a peaceful landscape.
Instead of admitting to anyone about my internal confusion and hatred of parental arguments, I mentally vented to the fountain.
Every speck of dirt and mildew knows my teenage truth. The fountain has even witnessed the few tears I have cried, over my unstable household. Human beings were only allowed to see my
teenage sarcasm. Here I am, at 20 years-old, and ready to explode.
My eyes blurred into the periwinkle blue base of the fountain. I was purely assured with my decision. I was actually anxious to say the words to Danny’s face. My heart began to beat
the anxiety of my new found freedom that was practically inches away from my grip. This was truly amazing. I found myself not having one ounce of sadness or sympathy. I felt nothing
for Danny, the person whom I had shared a life with for nearly two years. This probably sounds a little bit evil or purely selfish, but at that moment, I did not give a shit how my thoughts
sounded to anyone other than myself.
With what seemed like literally five minutes later, I heard the sound of a car door. I didn’t even have to look to know it
was him; nobody in town actually drives to the park.
“Matty.” I remain seated. The anxiety was too much to take. If I dared to face him immediately, with my luck, I’d
end up spilling out the words in my oh so demur manner, and then run away from his reaction. “Matty, I’m here.” Still facing forward, I scoot over for him to sit down.
“Sit down.” I take in a deep breath. He sits down next to me, making sure that another ass could comfortably sit down
between us. “Welcome to my teenage sanctuary.” He stares at my profile, confused. “This inanimate object is the only one who knows the real teenage Matty. I’m looking at this
fountain, recapturing everything I once was, and quite frankly, I miss it all. A lot.”
“What are you talking about?” I now turn to face him, face-to-face.
“You wouldn’t get it. You don’t get it. Only me, I am the one who gets it and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
I’ve never seen him look at me as the crazy person, which I am. I find myself laughing at this situation. I find myself
laughing at him, really. I am crazy and I love that.
“Danny, we’ve been together for almost two years and I’ve lost almost two years of myself. I’ve become Matty on pause, moving
without my movements. I’ve been living a life that’s not mine. I’ve been living your life. Nothing is mine anymore.”
“You are making absolutely no sense. Is this still all about how everything is titled as mine or my parents? I don’t get
“That’s just the thing.” I felt my mouth spread and stretch...I was forming a smile. This wasn’t supposed to be a happy
moment, yet the smile wouldn’t go away. “You don’t understand me and you never have. I’m not the simplistic, happy-go-lucky easy going person that you’ve assumed that I am. In fact,
I am very, very, complicated.”
“I know that. That’s what makes you great.”
“Danny, you don’t know. It’s as though I was warped by our comfort. I have known nothing else since we’ve been
together. We are too young to be tied down by comfort.” He looks straight into my eyes, like a lost dog. It was pathetic, but I was on a roll.
“You’re going to be traveling soon. You’re about to endeavor on your dream. You are going to be playing baseball for a
living, in the matter of months. You need to experience it. I need to experience being 20 and being a journalism student.”
“What are you trying to say? That you want to break up?”
He finally got it.
“Yes. I am.”
His eyes traveled down to his lap, sitting completely still. I couldn’t find a focal point. My eyes roamed from the
fountain, to my half torn index fingernail, over to the tree roots coming up from the brownish green ground, up to the sunless sky, and then returning back to the fountain. I desperately
needed to find something to stare at. I could not face his eyes, for I knew they were not laughing.
He moves forward, sitting on the very edge of the bench. I turned my body slightly to the right so I was facing the hill that I use to sleigh ride down with Tara.
I heard his feet touch the ground and begin to make their way, away from me. His footsteps mangle the leaves, placing his
mark on the ground. Seconds pass by and the slamming of the car door wakes up a sleepy neighborhood. The trees that surround the hill became blurry in my vision. Visions of Tara and
I sleigh riding though, were very clear. The sound of his car peeling out of the park brought back the green and blue stripped hat I wore every winter, up until I was 15. I could hear the
Jetta reaching 3rd avenue in the distance, as my anxiety sat heavily on my esophagus.
I strictly remember Shane saying that there would be a shit load of tears. Not one single tear was shed from either one of
our eyes. I wondered if he had been crying during the drive back to his parent’s house. I wondered if he would try to stop himself once he reached the driveway. Then, I really
wondered whether or not Denise would see the swollen, sad eyes of her pride and joy. Her scolding glare dubbed over the view of my house. I suddenly realized that I was still holding on
to the Salinski family cell phone. Shit, I would have to face the devil one more time to not only return the one thing that still linked me to that house, but to also grab my only remnants in
that house, the other half of my wardrobe.
I was scared to walk back into that house, knowing that I would no longer be considered a fifth member of the family. A lump in my throat formed. It decided to make itself a comfortable
nest in my throat.
I sit down on my bed, pick up the green receiver, and dial my best friend’s number, as my dog licks my forearm.
“Hello?” I think she had forgotten my house number.
“Well, I did it.”
“Yup. It’s Matty actually calling from her green phone.”
“So it’s over?”
“It’s over.” The words came out clean, even with a lump living in my throat.
“Are you ok?”
“Yup. I’m fine.” I was afraid that I would create an abundance of guilt if I were to admit that I was actually more than
fine, that I was good. The truth was, my exterior felt good, but I wasn’t exactly sure about the interior.
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