Movie Night without You
by Kristy Webster
Claire has left me. I can still smell her drool on my pillow. Her fine hair scattered on the faux wood floor like brazen little slivers of abandonment.
I didn’t mean to yell at her like I did. I’m the type who gets into it with everyone at some point—parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, bosses, the bosses’ kids. Each time I promise myself I’ll practice being responsive, not reactive, but before long, I lose my way again.
But Claire was supposed to understand. She was supposed to stay. We’d made a pact, each in our own language– over Netflix and General Tso’s Chicken, over deleted Facebook profiles and cancelled Match.com accounts, a promise to grow middle-aged together.
I keep the door to my one bedroom duplex wide open, leave some cut up pepperoni on a plate in the doorway. I beckon her. I tempt her. I pray her to me silently, then in sobs. I think of all the times we watched Buffy or Friends, ate cookie dough ice cream out of the carton, all the times I walked out of the shower to find her waiting on the bathmat, wagging her tail, looking up at me as if I were her Venus.
Claire doesn’t know that I’m a nobody. It’s a secret I’ve kept carefully hidden from her for eight years. She doesn’t know my phone rings off the hook because of collector’s I can’t pay off with my $10 an hour job. Claire doesn’t know I’ve gained 50lbs in the past five years, or that I haven’t had a date in three. Claire only knows that she belongs to me, not like a pet, but like a sister, or a best friend.
I hear brakes squeal and a man yell, Stupid dog! I throw the pillow off my lap and run outside, past the sun rusted shrubs that frame the sidewalk, past the darkened windows of my hope to see the tip of a white tail. I hear the sound of a hurried pant, I watch her running not towards me, but farther and farther away…