This piece is dedicated to the Gabrielles, the nameless girls, and the "assholes."
This piece is inspired by "Gabrielle" by Jason Collette. Please listen to it while reading if that appeals to you.
I was eating a dry burrito. It was disgusting in every way, and I was happy to be consuming it. They say you are what you eat, but I was eating what I am: a piece of shit. The only difference between me and this burrito, was that I was somehow still alive.
Sounds, lights, and all of the things that are heightened and make life vibrant when you’re in love were killing me. My eyes retracted into their sockets whenever someone opened the door to the noontime sun. God no. Not another day. But yes. It was another day. No matter how much I just wanted things to stop, things would just keep going. People would still walk through that damned orange door, look at the big sombrero and a bunch of dried peppers awkwardly hung on the entrance wall, and wait too patiently for a hostess to seat them in one of the many empty tables. With ten empty tables, how would they ever find places to sit without a host?…But that was none of my Goddamn business.
I thought last night was going to be the beginning of something good. The weeks leading up to last night were spent alone in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I punched around with the guys. I still laughed at dick jokes. And I worked diligently like the good little boy my grandma believed me to be. But, I was essentially alone.
How? You ask. Sounds like I was pretty normal, I know. In fact, it probably looked like I was having a good fucking time. Actually, if anyone walked into The Little Mexico right now, they would think my desire to die stemmed solely from the hangover that was haunting me from last night (and some of that desire was because of the hangover from last night, to be fair).
But no. In my head, things were different. I would see a goddamned shoulder and think of hers. Tan. Authentic. Naked. She was always wearing some loose shirt, and all it took was a flick of the sleeve and she was exposed. And once she was exposed, there was no stopping me. I could be in the middle of my Electromagnetism homework and suddenly I would start thinking about her legs. They were so strong, so firm. I loved grabbing them, digging my fingers into her thighs and feeling the muscles move underneath her skin. If I thought about it hard enough, I could actually feel her legs wrap around me. Sweet, Jesus.
But she wasn’t here. She wasn’t here in any sense. She wasn’t physically here. She was miles away. And worse, she wasn’t mine anymore. I gave her up. I told her the timing wasn’t right…And the winner of the man who used the most generic breakup excuse ever goes to ME!
“The timing is all weird.” Whatever the hell that meant. That’s exactly what she said too. What the hell does that mean? She asked. When will the timing be right? Babe, we’ve got to make the timing right. But no. I told her I needed time to grow up without her as if she was some kind of disease, some kind of bad influence that was holding me back. I had blamed my girl-next-door girlfriend (who was a sex goddess behind closed doors) for my failing grades and inability to think about working a job that would pay enough to support anyone or anything other than myself. Sure, I was on the right track, engineering wasn't flipping burgers, but I don’t know. I self destructed. I cut out the best part of my life. And why? Because I was high on her love, and I couldn’t lose her. I couldn’t. So I left her. And I’m a heartless asshole.
And what do heartless assholes do? They sit at their desks for days wondering why they decided to take Electromagnetism and a Statics and Dynamics class in the same semester. All the while too, I’m still desperately holding onto the feeling of what it was like when Gabrielle wrapped her legs around my torso when I hovered over her body in bed. I’m a winner.
Well, my friends thought so too (minus my own sarcasm). They had been supporting outings with more enthusiasm than usual since the breakup. Yes, the breakup I instigated. I was never really the kind of guy who went out solely for the reason to take a woman home, but everyone felt like me going out with that attitude would do wonders for my failing healing process. If anyone could break a heart, it was Gabrielle. And I needed to start moving forward and stop thinking about how deep her belly button was.
And the worst part about it was, she was still so nice. Mind-fucking nice. She called to check in. She sent me funny pictures that made me laugh harder than any of the jokes I got from the bros. She still asked for my advice like she had sincerely believed me when I told her during the breakup that I still wanted to be close—like she believed me when I told her I still cared about her. And when our conversations got comfortable, she would throw in a, “If you’re ever around, hit me up. We could grab a drink or something. Catch up.” I would say, “Uh-huh.” And I knew I was lying. What was worse was she knew I was lying…Which would cause me to lie again: “I will! I’ll call you if I find the time. I promise.” “You don’t have to do that,” she’d say. And I didn’t have to, but I said what I thought would make the “now” easy. And I liked easy. The conversation would flow easier if I promised her things. Maybe she would talk to me again if I promised her things. It hurt to know that I took advantage of the benefits I received from making promises whether I kept them or not. Live in the now, right?…How did an asshole like me ever deserve a moment with Gabrielle? I didn’t deserve any of it, and yet I still replayed moments of Gabrielle in my mind constantly when I was left alone in my head. I didn’t deserve her, but I still couldn’t get enough.
So to explain the hangover. Last night, I went out with the boys. All the girls looked dirty and kind of fantasy-like with the way they put on their makeup. That wasn’t a bad thing really, I liked fantasy. Plus, Gabrielle hardly wore any makeup. All she really put on was that rose-colored lip balm that I hated. It made her lips sticky, and it got all over me sometimes. I still liked the way it looked though. All of these girls wearing cosmetic masks reminded me nothing of Gabrielle. And for the first time in a month and half, I thought that I might be able to allow myself to get laid because of the striking differences. If I could find no resemblance to Gabrielle in one of these women, I could definitely go through with “moving on.”
The boys scattered as the night went on. And I don’t know how, and I don’t think it really matters how, but I ended up out on a shitty terrace decorated with cigarette butts on the ground and beer bottles resting on the chipped railing…And there was also a girl. I had no idea how long she and I had been standing there for. I also didn’t know why everything was so confusing; I had only had a beer or two. I wasn’t drunk.
Her mouth moved, but I didn’t know what she had been saying. I finally realized she was talking about her grandma. I mentioned my grandma. She touched my shoulder. I could always appeal to a girl’s sensitive side at the right time. I guess I was just somehow good at talking to girls. Or maybe I was just good at making promises (making, not keeping). Then she started seducing me indoors. If we went indoors, we would have sex. If we had sex, Gabrielle would somehow find out. And that was something she wouldn’t be able to look past. I would lose the unconditional hand she had reached out and given me since the day I had met her. She was still mine, but if I went indoors tonight, well...The ship will have sailed, and there was no going back. If I knew anything, I knew that.
“So…I really don’t have that many pillows on my bed! Oh my God. I’ll prove it to you.” The girl said. I leave her nameless not for the decency of wanting to hide her identity but because I simply had no fucking idea what her name was. Was that what we were talking about? How many pillows she had on her bed? Seriously, who needed Tinder when there was the pillow-counting phenomenon girls had to show off? I only have 5 pillows, see? I’m not a control freak who cares more about how something looks than what is actually practical. Bravo, nameless girl. Bravo. You have surely won me over.
“Ah… Actually, I believe you,” I answered. The beer in my hand was warm. I would finish it off eventually despite its disappointing temperature.
“Seriously, you’d be impressed. I mean, there’s one teddy bear, but I don’t think he counts,” she giggled although I didn’t see the humor in it at all.
I could tell she wanted me to argue and say something like, “It so DOES count! Let’s go have a look and let the judge decide.”
“Probably doesn’t,” I sighed. This girl started batting her eyelashes more than ever. She tossed her long brunette hair over her shoulders periodically as if she were flapping fairy dust into the air that would make me fall in love with her. Touching her own hair didn’t make me fall in love with her, but it did show off those shoulders. Her back was completely exposed in the tiny red dress she wore. I loved red…Almost as much as I loved rose pink. And then I saw Gabrielle biting her lips in my head. She was shy with me in the beginning, biting her lips, looking away, whispering… By the end of it, she was biting my ears, looking up at me, and laughing away any of my worries. I might not mean a lot of what I say, but when I told her I loved her, I meant it.
The red dress flashed in my vision, and I was brought back to the present moment on the patio.
“Well, there is only one way to find out,” nameless girl smiled. She bit her lip. She tugged on my arm. I reminded myself that if I gave in to my carnal desires that night, any small piece of hope that I had in winning Gabrielle back would be lost.
“Alright. Let’s put these pillows to the test,” I heard myself say.
We stumbled into nameless girl’s bedroom. It was all lacy and yellow and girly. I felt like I had just jumped into this girl’s childhood. It felt weird. And then I saw her bed. She had about 20 fucking pillows properly set on top of her bed. I shit you not. Like are you kidding me? 20 pillows? Like I had predicted I would, I finished my beer despite its lack of chill all in one go.
“See? I told you it’s not that many.” She said. Sure, sure, whats-your-name, not that many, my ass. She undid the first two buttons of my shirt, and then twirled around and jumped onto her bed with so much enthusiasm it hurt my heart because I knew that at that point I could get away with anything. I guess in the end, neither of us cared about the pillows.
I looked at this stranger on the bed. Everything about this was wrong. And yet I knew that this was where I was supposed to be. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t even conjure up an image of Gabrielle because this wasn’t where she was supposed to be. She didn’t belong in this room, in this house, in this life… I was about to lose her forever, and for her sake, thank God. I wondered if anyone would believe me if I told them I thought that maybe I let her go because I loved her. I wondered if anyone would believe me if I told them that what I was about to do was for her. I know I probably wouldn’t.
Gabrielle, my unconditional little Gabrielle, if you still love me, please forgive me.