A Letter From the Bottom of My Heart
A Short Story by Tim Josephs
Written using the suggestion "Break"
Originally featured on 03-30-2007
As part of our series "Springset"

I was really glad I ran into you in the supermarket the other day. At first I wasn’t even sure it was you, it had been so long since we had last seen each other. Initially I was a little nervous because of how things were left between us, but when you smiled I quickly felt relaxed.

I almost cried the last time we saw each other, that night after our final conversation. I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually almost cried. I couldn’t believe it was really over. The time we spent together was some of the happiest of my life. Whether we spent the day searching for rare buttons at a flea market or playing lawn darts, it just didn’t matter; everyday with you was a great day. I can’t remember laughing as much or as hard before or since. I loved knowing that when I woke up you would be next to me.

I envisioned our whole future: getting married outside on a beautiful summer day; having a couple of kids, moving into a big house in the suburbs. In my mind I actually saw the house and our kids playing on the swing set and in the sandbox in the backyard. I could see you in your old, faded overalls planting tomato bushes in your garden and me on a ladder painting the chipped green shutters. I saw all this and much more.

But then you started getting fat.

Maybe it wasn’t really your fault; that almost seems to be the natural progression of things. The salads and sandwiches at the beginning of relationships soon turn into cheeseburgers and pizza as the comfort levels rise. I was guilty of this myself as my personal trainer could attest to.

At first the weight gain didn’t really bother me, I mean, what were a few pounds between people who loved each other? But the day I met your mother I got worried. It was always a little intimidating meeting the parent of a girlfriend for the first time, but that wasn’t why I was nervous.

A lovely woman with a pretty face, I could see where you got your charm and good looks from. But I was afraid she was also where you’d be getting your ass from. Don’t get me wrong, I like a little “junk in the trunk” as the kids these days say, but your Mom looked like she had packed her trunk for an extended stay, say three years or so.

But I was able to accept your impending ballooning; just more of you to love, I told myself. Our relationship was special and I didn’t want anything to come between us. Being with you was heaven and I started thinking about us going away on a romantic weekend to somewhere like San Francisco. I even did some research into airfares.

But then you got that awful haircut.

I guess the style was trendy at the time; I remember you saying that all the models were wearing their hair really short. I told you I liked it, but the truth was I thought you looked like Elvis. One night I woke up to use the bathroom and glanced over at you and swore he was in bed with me. And with the recent weight gain you looked less like the young, good-looking Elvis, and much more like the older, bloated version.

But again, it was just something else I had to overlook and live with and I did. Things were still going great, I was never happier. That’s when I thought about asking you to move in with me.

But then you began wearing that horrible perfume.

I remember you telling me that it was what your Grandmother had worn and you had been trying to find it for years. It didn’t bother me at first; I thought it had a nice, airy scent. But the more I smelled it, the more it sickened me. Eventually, whenever you were wearing it and came within ten yards of me, I’d get nauseous.

But you loved it, said it brought back great memories. So, I told myself, if I could love you with this horrible, gut-wrenching stench hanging about you, I could love you through anything.

Things were going so well, I decided to ask you to come to my family’s Thanksgiving. I had never brought a girlfriend to Thanksgiving before so it was a pretty big deal. My parents really wanted to meet you and I figured that would be the perfect time.

But then you started with the humming.

I’m not even sure you realized you were doing it, but every so often, if you were immersed in a magazine or something, you’d begin humming the Sanford and Son theme song. I thought it was cute at first and I’d nod my head to your tune. You didn’t have a great singing voice but you did have a good humming voice. But then you started doing it when we were out in public, perusing a menu or the shelves at the video store for example.

What was initially a pleasant sound soon became quite unpleasant; the humming started boring into my head like an electric drill. It got to the point where if I heard one note come from your pursed mouth, I’d get a splitting headache. But again, it was something I was relatively sure I could live with. I was happy and liked being with you, that was the important thing.

That’s when I considered popping the question, actually asking you to marry me. As far as I was concerned I had found the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, so why keep looking? Whenever I would pass a jewelry store, I’d stop and peek in the window, always trying to keep an eye open for the perfect ring you would love.

But then you began using waxed floss.

It was common knowledge that most dentists strongly recommended unwaxed floss, but when I informed you of this you just laughed and said you preferred the waxed kind. Whenever I went into your bathroom I’d see the little plastic container on the sink or the long, white strands in the trash just mocking me. It got to the point where I would have to bring my own floss over or I couldn’t feel comfortable in your apartment.

And this time I wasn’t positive this was something I could live with. I was pretty sure I could overlook your swelling ass, your resemblance to fat Elvis, your noxious odor, and even the incessant, mind-bruising humming, but the waxed floss I just wasn’t certain about.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have used those exact words when we spoke that last night, but I felt I should be honest with you. I could tell you were upset and when you suggested we take a break for a little while, I pretty much knew it was over.

But after we began talking that day in the supermarket, I was really hopeful we could get back together. You looked great; I noticed you had lost some weight and your hair had grown out a little. The way we talked and laughed it was like old times and I instantly felt happy being around you. I couldn’t believe we had broken up over such trivial, petty things and I was just about to ask if you wanted to go get some coffee.

But then I noticed a can of kidney beans in your cart.

Read More By Tim Josephs

COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project

Archives Archives