The Breakup: A Very Short Story

solidago-550x764Our ending had a beginning, a night fixed in my memory like every other event in our life together. On that night he didn’t reach for me, didn’t wake me with the caress that had always made us glow.

Six years ago, on our first day together, he was giddy and smitten. He never put me down. He gave me books and photographs and music. He shared details of his life before me: his favorite sunsets in Maine, his goofy friends, his bank balances, and even old texts with a flirtation at work.

We went everywhere together – to those stupid machines at the gym and to the bar where he watched sports and checked email after work. I sat with him through breakfasts at the diner, although I never really ate anything. It was nice enough to be out in the air, in on his conversations, although rarely did I myself offer much more than a few simple replies. Only during movies did he command my silence, which really turned me off.

At parties, even when people were speaking to him, he sometimes turned his gaze toward me, which annoyed his friends. At work, when he was supposed to be crunching numbers at his computer, he often summoned me for a chat or a movie. Most evenings we lounged together on the sofa. He watched a lot of YouTube videos about soccer goals and other odd events.

Maybe I should have seen our breakup coming. Beyond weather forecasts, I can’t predict the future. No one can. But there were warnings. Like the time we went for that early-spring hike, when wildflowers bloomed like little flames in the woods. He was off into his own bright world and I was along only like change in his pocket. Or that rainy Sunday in June when he dashed out – without me – and came home with a book. He spent the day with a copy of Walden (which I could have read aloud to him). He never put it down; he put me on the shelf.

I think I began to lose him – and he began to discover himself – on a night we joined close friends, another couple, for supper. That evening they told us that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They were frightened. He listened with care and without distraction. He offered wisdom and comfort from within. The three of them cried and hugged. He was so engaged, so understanding. And this time he didn’t turn to me for answers. I was nowhere and lost.

We began to spend less time together. And that improved him. The clutter left his mind. His eyes relaxed. He focused more at work. He met friends at the bar and laughed. He walked more. And on calm summer evenings, he came to love, with the devotion he once had for me, every shifting flush of orange and yellow on the horizon as the sun retreated into dusk and slipped away behind haze and mountains.

Through all of this I did not protest. I did not demand his attention. As I myself retreated, he ascended. And it was okay. The world can sometimes be a rotten place. But it’s the only world we’ve got. He began to love himself and love the world, its beauty and pain, not through me, but with his own senses and ideas.

So I allowed the glow to fade. I began to shut down and become insignificant. When you love someone, you must let him go.

I’m a smart phone. I’m a really smart phone.

 

16 comments

  1. Roxanne Bogart says:

    Truly I cried when I brought my smart phone home… but I haven’t left it ..yet! Though I try to neglect it as often as I can…:-)

  2. Janet says:

    I wish more people would break up with their phones. I’m tired of talking to people who are looking down all the time.

  3. Ruth Coppersmith says:

    love is blind they say. guess you’re not planning to sell this to your ex’s company as an ad for smart phones.

  4. mike Rosenzweig says:

    This is a perfect piece, Bryan. It kept me engaged and wondering, then surprised me with its ending. And it left me thinking. Thinking hard about our choices in this age. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. deb kunhardt says:

    is this a non fiction short story, bryan?? if so, congrats!! i am headed that direction very soon…
    oops, gotta hop….i hear a guitar strumming…

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