What Belongs to You and Me

I wanted to write a story about how you loved me and then didn't love me. I sat down and wrote a few sentences in third person, so it'd be fiction. Called the girl "Sara," to be ironic, and the boy "Richard," for the same reason. Both our exes, beautiful Italians. But I couldn't make the characters be us. They were "Richard" and "Sara." You know, in real life, not just my story, Richard didn't like her. He said she was creepy and he wouldn't come to my office if she was going to be there. Sara thought he was hot. I guess she and I have similar tastes.

So in my story, Richard and Sara are decorating their first apartment, something we never did. I guess you never wanted to feel locked in. Living together has this permanent feeling, I know. Richard and Sara are decorating their apartment and she keeps picking out pictures for the walls that Richard doesn't like. He wants to paint pictures or buy pictures that his friends painted. She tries sticking post-it notes on the walls. Calls it modern art.

Then they have a classic "me and you" conversation about art, what is art and what isn't. They go to a coffee shop and eat giant pieces of cake the way we used to. He tells her that she's "harsh" and she asks, "Why?" but he won't answer.

They fall asleep in their new apartment with the fan set on low and the cats curled at the foot of the bed. Her back is pressed against his chest. Thinking of it makes me nauseous, because his chest should never be against her.

I try to replace the "Sara" in the story with me, but I feel guilty for being in that metaphorical bed with Richard. I feel like I am cheating on you, you who I am not dating. You, who does not love me and wants to take a break to figure out "who you are."

I take Richard out of the bed, send him back to Seattle to be with his girlfriend and then it's me and you in bed together. I am scared that you will roll away from me like you did so many times. I write that you do not roll away. I write that you hold me, both arms clenched around me with your chin boring into my shoulder. Your body, warm.

But it's a lie. Truthfully, you roll away from me to the other side of the bed. You wrap the covers around yourself to be sure we aren't touching. You flinch if I rest my head on your shoulder. You wake before I do and leave our newly decorated apartment, the one with Richard's paintings and Sara's post-it notes.

I don't get upset. This apartment never belonged to you and me.

About the author:

Brandi Wells is a student at Georgia Southern University, soon to graduate with a BA in Writing and Linguistics and a BA in English. Her fiction appears in or is forthcoming in The Saint Ann's Review, Elimae, Hobart, Word Riot and other journals.