So Marisa hoped for the best.
See, Ethan had just texted her a picture of him getting on a dumpy paddle boat with his eldest step daughter at Santa Monica Pier. He’d shaved off all of his red hair and put on a few pounds. The smiling duo were dressed like Michael Corleone and Fredo before the fishing trip scene in the Godfather Part 2. Marisa and Ethan had not only watched the movie together hundreds of times; but they quizzed each other on scenes, and randomly quoted the movie in public for fun.
They had done this 15 years ago and they consistently annoyed everyone because of it which only brought them closer together. He had been her innocent at work boyfriend until it was no longer innocent.
Marisa was glad to see that Ethan was enjoying having a daughter now and for a moment she felt a sort of thick sickness in her admiration of the photo and his new life.
He’d always wanted a woman to look up to him as a hero, which she had carefully executed without flaw for what seemed to her like, ever.
Marisa wondered, as exes are oft to do about giving out 90th chances every single time that they are communicated with by the elusive, “one who got away”, what he really wanted from her.
Today had he thought of her too as merely a doting daughter type all those years ago?
Or had he been misunderstood this whole time and Marisa’s role was obviously a genuine friend that he had longed to share thoughts & things with over the years?
What had bothered Marisa the most was that 456 hours ago she had decided that she no longer wanted to be a former lover of Ethan’s who had been successfully friend zoned.
She had decided, after two crying headaches, four boxes of tissue and one box of wine that she was going to move on with her life, like he had, and in doing so, she knew, their communication had to end.
His random texts about how much fun they used to have had to end.
His philosophical questioning about the meaning of life and art and man’s effect on the planet had to end.
Because in each exchange, she changed what he said into what she wanted to hear.
Ethan would purposely type– I’m Van Morrison, Marisa.
And Marisa would sheepishly respond, Oh, really E, feeling particularly Irish tonight are you?
And he would say no, because you know my heart sings about Brown Eyed Girls.
But the woman that shared a bed with him, had the most piercing oceanic deep blue eyes.
His ex wife’s eyes, were gloriously green.
because you know
because you know
because you know
So was she… his…something?
Was she… his…anything?
But she wasn’t dumb, she truly understood even then that she was no more than his dirty brown eyed bad habit and nothing else.
She never had been or would be.
She’d lost all hope so many times, been tempted so many times more and lied to herself about the truth more times than seemed healthy.
She loved and hated herself through him for years.
457 hours ago, Marisa had bought a new phone and had removed Ethan from her contacts, deleted 5 years worth of his threads, threw out all of the documentaries that he had bought her and shipped him a copy of Godfather: The Intimate Francis Ford Coppola by Gene D. Phillips with a pouch inside the front flap that contained a picture of Vito Corleone’s garden, which she had hoped that he would gather meant that like Vito, she was technically dead.
She used the block feature on her phone and before adding him to the blocked numbers list, cried and prayed that at that second he would call so at the very least she would know that he had received the book. But he did not.
But somehow, he had texted her the Santa Monica photo, on the new phone, just then.
His nickname popped up in the contacts, like nothing had ever happened, Mr. Training Day. They both thought that was funny that she used that as his contact name.
And if he hadn’t kept a picture of her and his wife on his desk when the two of them had met once at the phone company Christmas party and referred to the photo as his girls…
And if he hadn’t smoked a cigarette with her when she showed up for work only 73 hours after she had tried to commit suicide…
And if he hadn’t made love to her at The Palms Hotel and Resort in Las Vegas on a phone company business trip and moved his wedding date back a few days so that they could sleep together without much guilt…
And if he hadn’t been the protagonist in her mind for so long…
And if he hadn’t made her a playlist with Samson on it by Regina Spektor…
She might have gotten over all of it sooner, especially since he had told her in an e-mail very plainly that he was Erykah Badu in “Next Life Time” and that he was Mayer Hawthorne in “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”, if she hadn’t taught herself to believe that unrequited love was the only true love.
She had gleefully stayed in his background for over a decade, considering it a safe haven, pushing all potential suitors into the same zone where she resided in the hopes that the underdog would come out on top in the end (only in her story), just like the unlikely son with no chance of leading the family would one day become the Don in Mario’s.
None of this occurred.
And Marisa wasn’t dumb. She had read all of the love books, so trust me, she knew- She had watched the Mentalist and Lie to Me, so Marisa was well aware of what was happening to her and all of the signs.
Any man who wants you will let you know.
That was the bottom line.
because you know
because you know
because you know…
She was his big stupid brown eyed back up.
She was a peep show, a sounding board and at best, comic relief for his real life.
Yet somehow, as if by magic, she had received this photo.
For 30 seconds, 12 years of the most intimate and beautiful and passionate memories passed in front of her eyes.
And then every episode of Crazy Ex Girlfriend too.
She hadn’t been doing well without him for the first few days- every song, every commercial, every adjustment of a clock’s second hand, reminded.
10 days in, she felt nearly happy until she thought of something brilliant that she knew that he would have enjoyed and wrestled with wishing she hadn’t blocked him so that she could share.
She really was happy for him that he had found a life partner by day 17. She really did want him to enjoy the life that he had built without her on day 18. She felt noble in wanting nothing more than his happiness, regardless of how badly it hurt still on day 19 because it was a righteous pain.
He’d told her that he had wished that they could just move to Santa Monica together, a mere 75 months ago, although he was afraid that he would burn to a crisp from all the sunshine on his fragile Irish skin.
Or had he?
Had she just imagined this whole time that he had confessed that to her? She knew that she had rehearsed so many unreal conversations over the years- things that she had wanted him to say to her at night when she was alone -that she couldn’t remember anymore how many of them were actual.
She had let it slide and felt zen and moved on her mind and loved herself until the text was received.
Just a photo of him smiling with the new daughter- no words in the body of the message.
She had two choices. Respond with what her conflicted heart sang-
Or throw the phone into the waste bin and write about it on her blog.
She would change his name in it to something like Stephen because it sounded nothing like Ethan.
She would say that they were in a pretend band together when work got boring at the bank(and not the phone company) and claim that they had a shared an intensive love of comics, which couldn’t easily seem too similar to their passion for Mario Puzo and Francis Ford.
She would call herself Jezebel in the piece because that’s who she felt that she was in the short story poetic prose piece that six evil Newcastle beers agreed that she should type out.
She would make art instead of going completely batshit insane this time.
She had grown up slightly in a short while and was sort of proud of herself, for once.
She would tell the world how she felt and how she had overcome it, instead of the usual beating herself up.
She wanted to write it, just in case some other love sick and retarded woman somewhere in Siberia was going through the exact thing and also needed a subtle kick in the fanny while reading random things on the internet.
But she held the phone in her hand and responded with a smiley face that she had loved the photo.
And of course, like she had suspected he didn’t respond.
He didn’t acknowledge the smiley face after ten hours so she had to assume that he hadn’t gotten it.
Maybe the block had sort of worked- maybe it didn’t let her answer back and only let her see.
She was scared now.
Had she just imagined this whole time that he had sent the photo to her?
She went to the liquor store for more imported beer and opted now to actually write.
It was the only thing that would save her.
And the part that she thought would be the dopest of all, the part that she held closest to her soul in the matter- the part that was her most true wish for the entire situation, would be the very first sentence that she would type on the post.