This is the first thing I wrote in the notebook I bought over the summer. It's supposed to fit somewhere in something a bit longer, probably a book, that I've never written. Pretty sure I wrote this during a road trip.

You ever drive by a place you used to own after moving out? You ever feel the dissonance of staring at something that used to be your home while feeling like a trespasser?

I was parked outside her place, across the street, watching lights and silhouettes dance across rooms I once felt under my feet. I didn't want to think about who might be there now. There was more than one car in the driveway. My engine was idling. I should have been at the bar: friends expected me there. But my gaze couldn't leave, and neither could I. I'd passed by the street for weeks, always managing to keep going. Tonight was different. Was it the timing? Some strange celebration of the two month mark? Was I getting weaker when I should have been getting stronger? I clenched a fist on the steering wheel as I suddenly felt rage. At me, at her, at this, I couldn't tell.

I'd had enough. The silhouettes were driving me mad. I left.

I ended up at the bar, later than usual, some friends having left, others with emptying pitchers. The place was quiet, as it tends to be on summer Thursdays. Conversations based on missed jokes were dying down, eyes were drifting and shifting towards the exit. My glass empty, I stood and moved to the bar.

"Whiskey. Double. Neat."

Glass clinked, cash hit the bar. I stayed seated. One after the other, friends drifted by with goodbyes, exchanged and returned half-heartedly. Then only strangers remained. Well, not exactly.

"So you're fucking stalking her now?"

Hadn't heard the voice in...two months. I'd hoped not to hear it again. I sipped on my drink. It was emptying faster than I'd like. A hand was on my shoulder.

"I'm talking to you, fucking creep!"

He turned me to face him, spilling the little drink I had left. I sighed heavily.

"Look, I have a siser too. I get it. Can we not do this now? It's not a good day."

Even I was surprised at how reasonable I sounded.

"I don't give a shit!"

He was jabbing his finger into my shoulder now.

"I better never see you out there again!"

I stood. Maybe it was a good day after all. That's what the whiskey said, anyway.

"Or fucking what?"

He was a good head taller, literally and figuratively looking down on me.

"Don't start that shit with me!"

He was grimacing now, nose raised up at me.

So I clocked him. The technique was off, and I hit with the wrong knuckles, but he still stumbled back. There was a certain power to a sucker punch, no matter how fucked the technique or how weak the puncher. If you found that perfect window when the guy's jaw hasn't tensed yet, his teeth aren't clenched and his balance is still off, you usually just need one hit. I followed him down anyway. I don't remember laying into him after that.

I don't remember being pulled off of him.


She wasn't mad. She was livid. My phone blew up as soon as I found my way home and crashed into bed. Of couse she found out. And I'd never find out who spilled either, that was the curse in this fucking town. All I'd know is that she knew.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?!"

I hadn't been listening. Some sick part of me just enjoyed hearing her voice, even when she was furious. The passion that dripped from every word like forbidden nectar. It had drawn me to her. It still did.

"He provoked me."

I could never muster anywhere close to the anger she could, and the words fell flat. It wasn't very fair.

"He said you were sitting outside my place, stalking me!"

Had she even been there?

"I missed you..."

Weak words. Wrong words.

"Don't start."

I could hear her fury harden to exasperation.

"I know how it looks, but I'm not stalking you. I have to drive past your street every day, and tonight I fucked up."

"You can't just say that hoping it makes everything ok."

"I know."

"He's overbearing, but he didn't deserve what you did to him."

I couldn't agree with that.


"I can't agree with that."

She was starting up again.

"You went way overboard! They told me that had to rip you two apart!"

I didn't really have anything to say at that point. There wasn't a defense. She was silent for a while, until she realiezd it too.

"Don't come to my place again."