by Christina Bencin
I don’t think you love her anymore. Yet, you call after her, begging, hoping she will run into your arms.
She could never leave you and you know it. She’s infatuated, maybe even a little too obsessed with you, yet she runs from you.
You force your meaty arms around her bony waist, gently restraining her– as if that could possibly stop her. She hurriedly drags the small purple suitcase out of the closet without a word.
“Give me a reason. Why should I stay?” she whispers as she angrily shoves all that she can find in the suitcase. You say nothing and look down at the ground, temporarily letting go of her hips.
“Melanie…” you start, in a whiny voice. You wrap your arms around the white blouse that hangs loose over her stomach, resting your head on her shoulder.
She doesn’t want to hear it. She sinks her sharp elbows into your marshmallow stomach and you groan, reluctantly letting go of her. You watch sadly as she walks out of the room, pretending to grab for her arm again like you want her and can’t do without her. But your eyes speak the truth and the truth is, you’re relieved.
“Stella, Troy, let’s go.” she croaks out.
“You never deserved her, you pig,” I spit. Your eyes cloud up with anger as she yanks my arm out the door. We are out of your reach. Now you are free from responsibility and “strings attached love” and “pointless fighting”.
We walk to the train station in silence. She points at a spot on the map in the ticket booth. Flint, Michigan it is.
43a, 43b, 43c. I see the regret on her face now. “Sir, actually–”
“It’s for the better,” I whisper, intertwining my fingers in hers, but she looks past me with blank eyes. Suddenly, I feel her silky smooth hand shake furiously. I turn and realize that you’re here. You’re here, at the train station, standing in the middle of the commotion with a shitty bouquet of wilting pink carnations and a plastic container of cheap gas station chocolates.
Of course you show up to the train station with this gesture. You know this is real, that this is your last chance because she actually went through with her plan of leaving this time. And as much as you don’t care about her, or us, you still need her to stay. You know her price is a cheap one: a cheesy declaration of your “love” and a few worthless romantic items.
But she isn’t that cheap and it’s insulting that you would think of her like that.
“Melanie, please!” you holler across the station. Everyone stops and stares at you. They think it’s crazy. I do too. But she doesn’t seem to. She brings her cold, spidery fingers up to her chest and gushes.
“Melanie, I love you– so, so much. I never meant to hurt you this badly. The last thing I would want is to break your heart. I will do everything in my power to make this right. I promise.”
Clique, clique, clique! You’ve said this a hundred times and you still haven’t changed for the better. What makes her think you’ll change for the better this time?
Her brain says no, but her heart says yes. I can see her struggling, her hands grasping the tickets close to her heart and her feet frantically moving around. And for a moment, her feet stop. She’s made the right decision.
But then, she drops the tickets into my hand and she runs to you, kissing and hugging you desperately, like a lost puppy.
She motions for me and Stella to come as tears sprout in her eyes. Come to you?
Stella runs and jumps into your arms, ecstatic there will be no more fighting, gleeful that you two will remain happily together like the prince and princesses in her fairy tales.
43a, 43b, 43c. All the power is now in my hands. Should I stay or should I go?
The train approaches and people crowd along, waiting to get in. I look at you, busy tickling Stella and rubbing her back affectionately. All I can see the women you betrayed her with: Laura, Betsy, Sam, Angela, Wren, Stephanie, Tara, Kate… I could go on.
I look at her, beaming right up at you as you massage her. All I can see is the many times she’s run back to you and kissed your stubble cheeks in forgiveness, acting on the submissive behavior her father taught her that she is too stubborn, too cowardly to correct.
The decision is easy. I’ve spent years dealing with them, trying to help them, but I have failed. It is time for me to go. Lugging my red backpack aboard, I go on the train and recline back in my seat.
I’m sorry, Stella.
Your face contorts and you start to cuss at me. She runs, screaming, “Stop, stop, stop” but alas, the doors close and the train leaves. She looks away, crying into her white blouse.
I watch you as you stand with Stella in your arms. Stella is sobbing into your shoulder as you have a bored look of indifference as I move increasingly further away from you. You catch my eyes staring at you and crack a smile in return, waving your hand as if to say, “Hasta la vista”.
Well, hasta la vista to you too, Dad.