Just dump her, Derrick stomped his dirty boots on my desk and leaned back in my office chair. One of my oldest friends, he had recently taken up
chewing tobacco and was working over a sizable lump tucked into one of his well-tanned cheeks. His boots were dirty, his clothes stained with mud that
I could feel rubbing into the worn leather of my chair.
“Let me show you how it’s done.” he spat the wad inexpertly out of his mouth into the water-bottle he carried for that purpose, and much more in
keeping with the theater kid and nerd that had become my friend a decade ago, and in a passable imitation of me, “Good women, please desist from
your amorous overtures and remove yourself from my corpus.”
“I sound only vaguely like that” I muttered as I poked aimlessly at a cup of microwaved macaroni. “Anyway I don’t think she’d understand
“No, you’re right there but if you don’t do it soon, I will.” Derrick leaned down to me, his usually carefree face wrinkled with worry,
“Seriously though, it’s embarrassing for you. It’s no good for her either.”
He was right. It was embarrassing for me. Molly, my girlfriend, had met me once on Halloween night, Valleyfair, then asked me out, and in the euphoria
of having someone of the opposite gender take an interest in me I said yes. So we sat awkwardly around a table at her cramped and smoke stained house,
making terse conversation while her sister stared at me from the sofa across the room. She was a strange one.
“Don’t do that.” I said rather more sharply than I intended, “She wouldn’t take it well coming from you.”
“They always take it well comeing from me!” He made a particularly rude gesture and stood up. I could see the dirt on my chair, crumbling down the
back into the unreachable and uncleanable chasm between back and seat. “Do it though, you’ve let it go on too long.” He was right again. Four
months with a girl that I very nearly hated was too much. I had great high-minded notions of chivalry, and even in my most resentful moods I would
never have called her ugly, or stupid, or annoying no matter the circumstances; I just didn’t like her.
Three months before Derrick and I sat in my basement, among the odd bobbles, flags, swords, and books I collected, she had meticulously planned her
first kiss. There was a street light outside her house, and in a light November snow she stood up on tip-toe closing her eyes expectantly, waiting for
I leaned down, my breath turning to crystals in the air, studying in-depth every crease in her face and thinking to myself not for the first time how
those long red hairs could ever get so tousled. My lips brushed her... forehead, and planted something that would have made even the most prudish
grandmother wrinkle her brow in disappointment.
Molly’s did almost immediately. She didn’t say anything but as she turned for her door I knew she was already starting to cry. I was told by a
dear friend ‘a girl only has one first.’ From their tone, I assumed every girl expected fireworks, glass slippers, and inexplicable music. I
disappointed Molly on all those scores and more.
I tried to breakup with her the next day over Friendster, tucked away in my own empty, sprawling house. I am such a coward. “Look Molly.... I
don’t think it’s working out....” It took her longer than usual to respond, “Is this because I’m not takeing you to bedroom?”
Good heavens? Is that what type of person she thinks I am?... I mean.... I just said good heavens. “No Molly I swear it’s not that, you’re a
lovely girl, very beautiful and very smart, I just don’t think we’re meant to.” I could hear her crying from ten miles away, in big wet sobs
that wracked her body, the way she always cried.
“I can change. I can be better.” Her response was completely emotionless which terrified me. I knew about the thin scars on her wrist and arms,
though had never said anything about them. I imagined them getting deeper, pouring streams of blood onto her pink and white sheets, spattering across
the collection of stuffed animals the stood sentry so innocently above her bed.
No. It’s not you, it’s us, you are wonderful but... ‘we’ aren’t together. “No. It’s not you, it’s me. I don’t deserve a girlfriend
like you... I mean... I can’t even kiss properly.” I just can’t say no.
Two months later, I had stopped using Friendster, ‘accidentally’ broken my phone and developed as many bad habits as I could. By the time Derrick
had his feet up on my desk it was January, and snow buried my car more often than seemed possible. I was having mechanical trouble too. Darn brake
pads. Molly still wouldn’t take the hint, no matter how many times I broached the subject or tried to suggest she’d be happier with someone else.
She would just try harder.
“Come over,” she said one day after our classes at Shore View High School let out and I was trying to sneak away unseen, “I made you a birthday
Dog Died? Don’t own a dog. Mother sick? She’d know. Arsenic poisoning? Too dramatic. Yes. “Sure, that sounds great.” Luckily Molly didn’t
live too far away from the school and it was only a five minute walk to her empty house, which smelled like cigarettes and wet dog had been ground
into the dark shaggy carpets. She unlocked the door, and kicked the mound of shoes her sister kept by the entrance away from the lintel and onto the
dirty linoleum of the kitchen floor. I started to walk forward, searching for my cake. Her hand shot out to grab mine; it was clammy.
“Not that way.” She said with a knowing little smile.
“But.... that’s the kitchen. That’s where cakes are.”
“Pfft,” It was one of her trademark noises and she smiled ever so slightly as she said, “Your cake isn’t in the kitchen. It’s downstairs.”
There were only three rooms downstairs, a dank moldy laundry room, crusted over with chemical cleaning products and stacked on two walls with boxes of
Diet Dr. Pepper, a sun-room where Molly kept her elderly and incontinent dog, and her compulsively cleaned bedroom.
She began to pull, her little hands dwarfed in mine but somehow exerting the strength of an... arm wrestling... circus bear. She lead me down the five
carpeted steps to her bedroom and quietly closed the door, pushing me onto the cold wall with her free hand. Cake is a metaphor!The cake is a lie!
“Can you guess what flavor your cake is?” Molly pulled off her shirt, in a movement that must have been practiced, it was so smooth and
effortless. I didn’t stop her, it was the first time I had ever seen a woman half dressed. Her dolls sat stony face, staring in judgement at me.
“Molly,” The words came out in a rush, my tongue making up for lost time, “This really isn’t a good idea, I mean you’re not even eighteen.
And what if your parents come home? We shouldn’t do this.” She stopped. In my mind I cursed myself for rejecting this woman, both for me and her.
I could already imagine the tears welling up in her eyes, and the Exacto knife she kept in a jar on her desk slowly lancing down into her tiny wrists.
“I mean to say, that maybe we should wait a bit, you know?” I was terrified of being trapped forever.
She slumped back onto the floor, the predicted tears forming in her eyes, “I’m never good enough. I never do anything right! I know I don’t look
good, I’m too fat, pimples on my back... but you couldn’t just....?” She waved her hands around as she stepped away from the bed, looking
dejected and small. I gulped in stale air, doing the mathematics of rejection in my head.
You’re not fat. “You’re not fat.”
“You don’t have to lie,” Molly said bitterly, pulling her blouse up over her and twisting it in her hands, “I hate myself.”
Don’t hate yourself! Hate me! Hate me? Please? “Molly,” I said slowly, carefully measuring every word. My eyes were locked straight above me on
the brass etched ceiling fan, “Come here.” I stuck out my arms and beckoned her back, “We should do this... I love you.” I don’t love you.
Even if she didn’t hate me, I did.
By March we had gone our separate ways, she called me ‘jerk’ and ‘liar’ and accused me of practically every crime short of witchcraft. I
encouraged her, urging her to probe and develop every flaw in my personality, relishing the abuse like so many purifying Hail Mary’s. She raged for
days after I finally had the courage to say ‘No more,’ and I soaked up the abuse like it was somehow equal to what I had done, feeling a little
lighter after every jab. Eventually, I told myself, it counted as absolution. Eventually I told myself, I did the right thing.
Two years later, I’m nineteen and can use Friendster now without fear, I have a working phone; I can sit in my chair any time, but sometimes at
night I type her name into Friendster and look at the limited information that her privacy selections allow me to see. We haven’t spoken since, and
the tiny profile picture is all that I know about her. She looks happy. I now resent the fact that it happened but I will never resent her. I wish I
could explain to Molly how much of a coward I am, reassure her with every bit of honesty that she is beautiful, and say ‘I’m sorry’. But how do
you form those words? How do you make them sound any more believable than ‘It’s not you, it’s me?’