How to Avoid Your Ex in a Small Town

Today you learned that Satan himself now drives silver Kia. He sped passed you on your walk home from work. You count back time in your head: it’s been at least three months since your last encounter at the Starbucks across town, and you consider yourself lucky to have made it this long. Then again, you put in the effort to make sure you made it this long.

You had dressed each day like you were going to a funeral, only you were the corpse. Your face had rarely made appearances outside of your living room, however, when it did, it had been at odd hours of the day, while considerably overdressed in ill-fitting Target blouses. Caking drugstore foundation had failed to hide the dark concaves of your face carved out by late-night cold brews and Dove chocolate.

Misery had made your skin feel like a circus tent. It’s folds had draped over your bones and fried nervous system with a grace comparable to a linen tablecloth thrown over an oil fire. You had wished you could slip out of it like yesterday’s leggings. You wished you would at least have taken a shower. Instead, you had wrapped up the loose flesh in spanx and cotton, forcing it to fit into a size-six silhouette.

You couldn't begin to recall the moment you decided that looking like your grandmother’s collection of porcelain dolls was more important than being able to expand your diaphragm. You also couldn’t recall when brooding beside cafe windows (mourning your lost youth at the ripe age of twenty-two) became your idea of fun. You had imagined a lulling John-Mayer-esque acoustic guitar every time you caught your reflection in rainy shop windows, while waiting for the camera to pan over to the glass door the moment your next love interest made their entrance.

Instead, you sat and watched another episode of “New Girl”, stuffing fistfulls of microwave popcorn down your throat. The heater turned on. Flannel button-downs crawled out of storage. No amount of charcoal face masks could hold your cracked skin together as the air managed to grow more bitter than the jaded twenty-two year old huddled in front of a laptop screen listening to that same Sara Bareilles album again.

It had taken a lot of work to be that bitter. It had taken a lot of effort to sink into that loveseat in front of the television and pretend to be content, while imagining your friends out in the Water Street bars, wearing tight shirts, short skirts, and kissing strangers. It had taken a lot of work to wait for that part in the romantic-comedy where the runaway lover realizes they had made a mistake.

However, even after all that effort, Satan still sped passed you in his silver Kia on your way home from work. You watched his car barrell down the hill and disappear around the corner without ever slowing down.

There were no extreme close-up shots. The lighting was off. The scene lasted too long. You were left standing alone on a deserted street without so much as a pop song to keep you company through the rolling credits of your season finale.

You saw a dead robin chick curled up beside the curb. Flies and gnats made rounds between its eyes and it’s crumpled side. A group of boys rode past you on their faded bikes. An old woman reading in her wicker chair looked out for a moment at the cabbage moth that batted her screened window, before returning to her book.

Looking out into the overgrown lawns shrouded by a cloud of humidity, you saw yourself as a child driven by vanity. Your eyes burned with exhaustion.

Written by Chanel Harwick


#smalltown #love #hearts #avoidingyourex

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