Somewhere Between Boredom and Pity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young man who is unhappy has an encounter with his ex-girlfriend in which he discovers he is an asshole.

Submitted: August 25, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 25, 2014



Somewhere Between Boredom and Pity

Bret Farrell

I am trying to be honest. If I knew how I felt I would write it down. I know I am not happy, but that doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

I’ve had this cough for six weeks now. I leave for school soon, and I hope the cough will be gone by then. I’ve spent most of the summer up to this point in my bed, thinking about having a conversation with someone interesting for once. It was depressing as hell. Everyone I find interesting died a hundred years ago.

It was raining this morning, but it stopped now. I looked out the window in my room. The sky was still overcast. I hoped it would start raining again. That way I would have an excuse not to leave the house today. I have plans to meet the only girl I’ve ever dated this afternoon. She wanted to meet up so we could exchange our personal belongings. Just the thought of seeing her makes me nauseated. When I was in love with her, I couldn’t find a flaw in her if I tried, but now it’s different. She’s extraordinarily pretentious. She lives in the city, which she thinks makes her better than everyone else. She’s condescending and demonstrative. Everything she says now makes me hate her a little more. When you love someone, all of their disparaging traits seem to fade away, and when you no longer love them, they become the only thing you can see –at least with my experiences so far.

If it wasn’t bad enough, her friends were even worse than she was. When I was with her, she was always with them. I have always hated her friends. They are all part of the same breed. The supercilious, artsy crowd. They look down on you if you can’t name the director of every “noire” film ever made. They are talentless and therefore spend their time studying those who are full of talent. Every time they spoke to me I felt sick to my stomach. They are not interesting. In fact, listening to them talk was somewhere between getting water boarded and having a bear trap close on your foot.

Despite all of that, during the course of our relationship I had always thought I was really good to her. It wasn’t very often I found someone who I genuinely cared for, and so when I did, I tried to care for them to the best of my abilities. I was always caring and compassionate. Looking back on it now, I was really good to her.

Before I go any further, let me tell you about myself. I am nothing special and you probably don’t care to hear what I have to say. I am tall and skinny. I’ve done everything according to plan since the day I was born, and I have hated every second of it. But diverging from the plan is more work than I am willing to put in. I’ve gone to school and done very well, and soon I will be moving away to college. I have trouble relating to people and being sympathetic - it is why I did not have very many friends in high school. My school was a graveyard for original thought. Everything anyone said or did was a product of the current culture. No one had anything organic to say. Everyone was an exact copy of everyone else.  Despite the debilitating lack of personality, I always tried to make meaningless small talk with the girls in my school on the off chance that one of them had something interesting or funny to say. Very few did, and typically the ones who did hated my guts. I also had the tendency to immediately fall in love with any girl who could put together even a half-intelligent thought.  

Love is a lie we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night. 90 percent of a relationship is based on sex. The other 10 percent is how tolerable you find the other person. We like to think it isn’t like that, but it is.

My mouth was dry, and tasted like cigarettes. I didn’t smoke. But I would right now.  

I leaned over and grabbed one of the several half empty water bottles on my desk and drank the rest of it.

I sat up straight in my bed now. I had a blaring migraine this morning. I had migraines every morning because I grind my teeth. The sun was coming in through a tiny crack between my blinds and made a thin line of light across my bed that passed over my legs.

I finally muster up the energy to get out of bed. No matter how much sleep I get, I always felt exhausted. I slept for 12 hours last night, but it feels like I didn’t sleep at all. Every day I feel more and more numb. Like I didn’t think I could care less, but every morning I somehow manage to.

Like I said earlier, today I’m supposed to meet the only girl I’ve ever dated. So I decided I’d shave and then take a shower. I had to look presentable so she would think my life hadn’t completely gone to shambles since we split.

I put on some music while I was shaving. The first song I listened to was sad and sweet. The melody filled the room like a sweet aroma.

Never show a girl your favorite song. It will ruin it forever. I learned it the hard way.

I nicked myself. I always do. I put a little circular piece of tissue on the cut to stop the bleeding.

While I was in the shower, I tried to think of something I could tell her that would make her think I had my life together without coming off as pretentious. I laughed to myself because I realized I was doing the same thing as when we first started dating. Every guy does it. You see, deep down, every pretentious person is just trying to come off as not pretentious. They all want to be charming. They all want to be the guy in the movies who sits down on a park bench next to a pretty girl, lights a cigarette real smooth, and says some lame ass line to her. Of course the girl swoons and they spend the rest of their fucking lives in love, talking about books and art. I clench my fist. I knew deep down I sort of wanted this too, and I hated myself for it. I always had the fantasy of being Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, just being smooth as hell. It enticed me and made me sick at the same time.

When I get out of the shower, it’s raining again. The sound of rain hitting the roof is relaxing. I watch the rain drops slowly accumulate at the edge of the roof and then finally drop to the ground below.

Maybe I wouldn’t go meet her today. Maybe I would stay in my house. Maybe I would get in my car but instead of driving to her house I would get on the highway and drive until my car ran out of gas. And then when my car ran out of gas I would abandon it on the side of the road and just start walking. I could live off the land. I wonder how long I would last. Maybe I would be happier.  

None of it would happen because for any of those things to happen, I would have to put in effort to deviate from the plan that was laid before me.

So I continue getting ready.

Fuck. I was angry at myself. I knew what I was doing and I still couldn’t change it.

I look up in the mirror and splash some cold water on my face. I had big dark circles under my eyes. I slick my hair back and put on some cologne.

I start thinking about the conversation we were going to have. I felt tension in my chest, like I was anxious and nervous at the same time. I wanted very badly to smash the mirror, but of course I wouldn’t.

I walked down stairs and grabbed the box that had some of her personal belongings in it. I didn’t want to look at it; it would only make me unhappy. I put on my pair of nice shoes. Maybe she would notice them. I grabbed the keys to my car which had been sitting in the same place all summer. I opened my front door. It was pouring rain. It made me feel a little better. I ran to my car; the rain hit hard against my clothes, each drop making a different noise. It sounded like a symphony. I wanted to just lie down in my driveway, and let the cool rain hit me. It would feel nice. I would be happy. I might catch pneumonia if I did that though. Maybe the pneumonia would kill me. I wondered for a second how many people would show up at my funeral. But then I got to my car, opened the door, and sat down. I put the box in the passenger seat. It was quiet. I could only hear the rain drops beating against the metal roof of the car.

I hesitated before putting the car into reverse. I didn’t have to do this if I really didn’t want to. There was always this conflict inside of me between the things that had been planned for me to do, and the things I actually wanted to do. The two almost never overlapped. I very rarely did anything that I truly enjoyed. For some reason though, I kept going, just sort of moving through these menial tasks with a plastered look of no emotion on my face. But at this moment right here, I felt I had a choice. I could do what I wanted. But it quickly evaporated like the rain on my driveway would eventually evaporate tomorrow morning in the hot sun, and I was back on track once more. I put the car in reverse and was on my way.

I had driven to her house a thousand times. I could do it with my eyes closed. It used to be the only thing I looked forward to, but this time it felt different; I wanted to be driving anywhere but her house. I had this same tension in my chest. I began to sweat. I could feel the drops on my forehead slowly start to roll down my face. I dabbed away the sweat with my sleeve.

I stopped at a red light. It wasn’t too late. I could still turn around.

It wasn’t going to happen. I gripped the steering wheel tight. My knuckles turned white. I was breathing heavy.

I was a block away from her house now; I could see it.  It was looming. It stood out completely. I hated it. I wanted to crash my car. But just as the plan had been laid out, I drove down to the end of the street, pulled in her driveway, and honked the car horn twice.

The rain had let up which only made me more upset. I couldn’t believe I was actually here. I fucking hated myself. I thought I was going to be sick. I took a deep breath and got out of the car. My legs felt so weak I thought I was going to keel over, so I just leaned up against the hood of my car and waited for her to come out. I could feel the blood pumping through my veins, my heart was racing. I didn’t understand why I was so nervous. The door finally opened and I froze.

She was wearing a blue dress and her wavy hair sat right on top of her shoulders. She looked really good, better than I had expected. I had known she was going to doll herself up to see me, but I wasn’t expecting this. She was carrying a bag that I assumed had my personal effects in it.

I got really close to being sick. That would have been a great way to start the conversation: puking my guts out on her driveway.

She got closer to me, and finally said

“Hey! How are you?”

She gave me a hug. I half-heartedly hugged her back. I could smell her perfume. I just got a small whiff, but it smelled like a thousand memories.  Oh god, why did she have to wear that perfume? I wanted to leave already.

She took a step back and looked at me with anticipation.

I didn’t say anything. I forgot she had even asked me a question.

“Well, how are you?”

“Oh, well, I’m doing great.” I fumbled the words out of my mouth.

Great? I was most certainly not doing great. I’d been sleeping twelve hours a day everyday over the summer, but it felt like I hadn’t slept in weeks. I had constant migraines. This was the first time I had a conversation with someone outside of my immediate family in 4 months. I had been sick for the last six weeks. I hated everything I did and everything everyone else was doing. I didn’t have any friends.

But somehow I managed to utter out again.

“Yeah, I’m doing great. I’ve been reading a lot. I’ll be traveling soon, but I’ve been working a lot also. Just sort of enjoying my summer before I go away to school.”

None of what I said was true.

I spent half my days this summer trying to figure out if I was tired or bored.

I had rehearsed lines in the shower to try to get her jealous and that was the best that I came up with. It was disappointing.

“That’s so great to hear!”

It wasn’t. She was upset that I was enjoying my life. It made me a little happy knowing that deep down she was upset that I was doing well. Even if what I was saying wasn’t true.

“Yeah, I am doing great, also…”

Blah Blah Blah. I zoned out for her thirty minute lecture on how great her life is.

The highlights included how she is living in the city, how well she did in school, something about work and how she has a bright future ahead of her.

“So have you been seeing anyone?”

This is one direction I was not expecting the conversation to go. My face turned slightly red. Not from being embarrassed but because I wasn’t expecting this question and so I became immediately nervous. My palms became sweaty almost instantaneously. I looked away from her and put my right hand on the back of my neck.

“I’ve been talking to a couple people. Nothing serious, really.”

I was fairly confident I would die alone.

“Oh, well that’s good, I guess. You never really were the outgoing type; it’s good to hear you’re talking to other girls”

I wasn’t talking to anyone, let alone another girl.

I didn’t think to ask her if she was seeing anyone, and I didn’t want to know even if she was.

She broke the silence,

“Besides exchanging our stuff, there was another reason I wanted to see you.”

I was confused, so I just stared at her with a dumb look of confusion and anxiety on my face.

“This is hard for me to say, but look, when we were together…I was not happy. You made me feel terrible. You were an insensitive asshole, and I wasn’t happy most of our time together. I wanted to end it earlier, but I couldn’t break your heart”

I thought she was joking at first, but when I looked at her face she appeared to be serious. 

“What? What are you talking about? I was great to you…”

I had such a thought-out response to what she just said to me, but that was all I could blurt out.

“No. I was never really happy. You were distant and unsympathetic, and on top of everything you were an asshole. You were condescending and just mean.”


That couldn’t be. I was shy and introverted. I couldn’t be an asshole. I barely had the courage to speak, let alone say condescending and mean things. She must be mistaken or delusional.

“I just needed to tell you. I needed to get this off my chest.”

I couldn’t understand why she was telling me this. I was always good to her. My hand began to shake. She must be lying. I couldn’t have been like that. 


I was trying to analyze what had just happened in my head.  

“Well I have to leave now, but thank you for bringing my things, and here’s your stuff.”

She handed me the bag of my belongings.


“Well, take care of yourself…”


I never had a way with words. I always had eloquent thoughts in my head that transitioned into simple phrases coming out of my mouth. Nothing I ever said in my entire life ever came out how I intended it to.

I just got in my car and sat there for a second.

I couldn’t remember a time where I had been more upset. I hated her. I hated everyone. I mostly hated myself. I wanted to have a stroke and die so that she would feel awful about the things that she had said, and in the end I would have won the interaction that had just happened. That is all this was to me, a competition, and she had just dealt a devastating blow from which I would not recover.  My hand trembled as I reached up to put the car in reverse. I started to drive away.

There were droplets of rain accumulated on the back windshield.

I wasn’t an insensitive, condescending asshole. I couldn’t be. I smiled.

 I took a deep breath. I felt that same wave of freedom I had felt earlier, like I was no longer on track anymore, and that I could do what I wanted.

 I felt better, a lot better. A strong breeze blew through the car coming through the driver’s side window and exiting out the passenger’s side. It felt good. I pulled up to a red light.

The tree branches began to sway.  The green leaves reflected the water from the earlier rain.

I never did like the green leaves. I preferred fall.

There was a big brick building on the other side of the intersection.

All the bricks were so neat.

 It was quiet.

Then I stepped on the gas and crashed my car into the wall.

I was free.

© Copyright 2019 BretF. All rights reserved.

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