Prelude To A Proposal, or Popcorn & Porn
We had been having an argument—though not really an argument since there hadn’t been many words exchanged; more accurate to say we were at odds with one another, in the throes of regret’s overture, wherein the potential for irrevocable things said was at its highest—when she walked out.
In the first hours after she left I had reveled in her absence. I ate popcorn in bed; I burped with expressive volume and tone; I watched cheap porn on cable while the dirty dishes suffered from neglect. Each action I performed as a direct rebuttal to some charge of hers, but with each action my sense of autonomy diminished in direct proportion to my feeling of regret, so that by the time I’d finished masturbating I felt downright sick to my stomach.
I wiped myself with a towel and thought, what if? This could be the moment I relive for the rest of my life. In the future, whenever I’d think about what I’d been doing the moment she’d died—in a car accident, maybe, blindsided by some drunk driver, lost in a tangle of mangled tin, a gas leak, an explosion, swallowed in a mudslide—this was the picture that’d come to mind: popcorn and porn.
I wished her back, sitting in the armchair in the corner, staring at me with disappointment. I thought, if she isn’t back by the time this car commercial is over, I’ll call the police. The car commercial ended. She wasn’t back. I thought, if she isn’t back by the time I’m done brushing my teeth, I’ll really call the police. I brushed my teeth. She still wasn’t back. When she finally did come back, I thought of her absence that it deserved a scar: the one I’d choose would be on her left hand, between her pinkie and her middle finger.
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Portland Fiction Project
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