You ask everybody you know: How long does it usually take to get over it? There are many formulas. One year for every year you dated. Two years for every year you dated. It's just a matter of will power: The day you decide it's over, it's over. You never get over it.
Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn't do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel.
You whispered my full name and we fell asleep in each other's arms and I remember how the next morning you were gone, completely gone, and nothing in my bed or the house could have proven otherwise.
You eventually erase her contact info from your phone but not the pictures you took of her in bed while she was naked and asleep, never those.
You said i could call you when i wanted but that you wouldn’t call me. you have to decide where and when, you said. if you leave it up to me i’ll want to see you every day. At least you were honest, which is more than i can say for me.
I just want some space to myself every now and then. Every time I’m with you I have this sense that you want something from me.
You try every trick in the book to keep her. You write her letters. You quote Neruda. You cancel your Facebook. You give her the passwords to all your e-mail accounts. Because you know in your lying cheater’s heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get.
I can see myself watching him shave every morning. And at other time I see us in that house and see how one bright day (or a day like this, so cold your mind shifts every time the wind does) he will wake up and decide it's all wrong. I'm sorry, he'll say. I have to leave now.
She's applying her lipstick; I've always believed that the universe invented the color red solely for Latinas.
In another universe I probably came out OK, ended up with mad novias and jobs and a sea of love in which to swim, but in this world I had a brother who was dying of cancer and a long dark patch of life like a mile of black ice waiting for me up ahead.
In the months that follow you bend to the work, because it feels like hope, like grace--and because you know in your lying cheater's heart that sometimes a start is all we ever get.
Her last painting was of you, slouching against the front door: only your drowning I-had-a-lousy-Third-World-childhood-and-all-I-got-was-this-attitude eyes recognizable.
You were sixteen years old and you were messed up and alone like a motherfucker. You were also convinced - like totally utterly convinced - that the world was going to blow itself to pieces.
I was staring at you and you were staring at me and right then it was sort of like love, wasn't it?.
Do you remember? When the fights seemed to go on and on, and always ended with us in bed, tearing at each other like maybe that could change everything. In a couple of months you'd be seeing somebody else and I would too; she was no darker than you but she washed her panties in the shower and had hair like a sea of little punos and the first time you saw us, you turned around and boarded a bus I knew you didn't have to take. When my girl said, Who was that? I said, Just some girl.
Instead of lowering your head and copping to it like a man, you pick up the journal as one might hold a bady's beshattered diaper, as one might pinch a recently benutted condom. You glance at the offending passages. Then you look at her and smile a smile your dissembling face will remember until the day you die. Baby, you say, baby, this is part of my novel. This is how you lose her.
Nilda is watching the ground as though she's afraid she might fall. My heart is beating and I think, We could do anything. We could marry. We could drive off to the West Coast. We could start over. It's all possible but neither of us speaks for a long time and the moment closes and we're back in the world we've always known.
Maybe we were together some other time. I can’t think when, I said. You tried not to look at me. Maybe five million years ago. People weren’t even people back then.
There were a lot of these middle-aged single types in the neighborhood, shipwrecked by every kind of catastrophe, but she was one of the few who didn't have children, who lived alone, who was still kinda young. Something must have happened, your mother speculated. In her mind, a woman with no child could be explained only by vast untrammelled calamity. Maybe she just doesn't like children. Nobody likes children, your mother assured you. That doesn't mean you don't have them.
Only Puerto Rican girl on the earth who wouldn't give up the ass for any reason. I can't, she said. I can't make any mistakes. ...Paloma was convinced that if she made any mistakes in the next two years, any mistakes at all, she would be stuck in that family of hers forever. That was her nightmare. Imagine if I don't get in anywhere, she said. You'd still have me, you tried to reassure her, but Paloma looked at you like the apocalypse would be preferable.
That night you lay in bed, awake, and listened to the ambulances tear down our street. The heat of your face could have kept my room warm for days. I didn't know how you stood the heat of yourself, of your breasts, of your face. I almost couldn't touch you. Out of nowhere you said, I love you. For whatever it’s worth.