"You said, I don’t have time to read your story right now. You know how busy I am. Maybe I can read it later." -- From today's brilliant relationship story, "Monologue" by Juliet Grames.
by Juliet Grames
You said, Hey, I remember you. We met at the—hey, are you okay? Let me buy you a cup of tea. Oh, my friends will be fine on their own.
You said, I fix cars to pay the bills. But in my heart I’m a poet.
You said, I don’t care if it sounds cheesy.
You said, I have this dream of going back to school and getting my master’s in education. There are so many city kids growing up without any positive male role models at home. I want to be there for them.
You said, Do you want another cup of tea? It’s the least I can do.
You said, Sure, I’ll keep you company.
You said, The last person to order for me like this in a restaurant was my mom when I was eight.
You said, No, I don’t mind.
You said, I’m going to be frank with you here. I’m not going to waste this kind of time on someone who only wants to be friends.
You said, No, not surprised. I had a feeling you’d call back.
You said, I thought you might like this place. I know you said you were into live jazz, and you haven’t played foosball since you were a kid.
You said, Some day we should go to this bar in Williamsburg where they have Pac-Man. And in July, there’s this music festival.
You said, It’s been a long time.
You said, I can’t just jump in bed with someone. How can you even know if you’ll have good sex with someone if you haven’t tried holding them first? I think it’s really important to spend at least one night sleeping next to each other before you try to sleep with each other.
You said, See how nicely we fit together?
You said, It makes me so angry that you were with assholes who didn’t make you feel like you deserved this.
You said, I wasn’t sure which one you would like the best. So I bought them all.
You said, You can’t show up for dinner at someone’s house empty-handed. It’s just a cake. It’s how I was raised.
You said, No, honey, sorry. But you’re not very funny.
You said, I love you because you think I’m funny.
You said, The first time your mom came over here and took off her shoes and socks I freaked out. Your feet are exactly the same. I saw the next thirty-two years of my life flashing in front of my eyes.
You said, My dad always told me before I got serious about a girl to go and check out her mother. Because that’s what she’s going to turn into, he said. If you look like your mother when you’re 55, I’d be okay with that.
You said, I think my family loves you more than they love me.
You said, You’re everything.
You said, Look at all the stuff I got for sixty-three dollars. I can roast you this ham on Sunday, and then I can make you ham sandwiches for the rest of the week. And I got these Swiss Miss cups on sale. Look, you can pick which one you want in your lunch everyday. There’s chocolate, tapioca, and look. Banana cream, your favorite.
You said, I love taking care of you.
You said, I let you pick this apartment because I love you and having your space was so important to you. Am I happy that the super smokes up in broad daylight on the front stoop? No. But sometimes the best thing to do is just shut up and agree. And it makes you happy, so that makes me happy.
You said, I’m never coming to one of these things again. All these pretentious people trying to impress each other with their stupid accomplishments. The whole thing makes me want to drink. I can’t believe you want to be friends with these kinds of people. Please, never make me go to anything like this again.
You said, It’s not like it’s an important holiday. You’re not even religious. I don’t see what the big deal is. I’ll see your family some other time. I never give you a hard time when you leave me to go waste money in foreign countries, do I?
You said, I’m older than you. When you hit thirty you’re just not as interested anymore. You can’t expect me to be like I was when I was in my early twenties. I cook for you. I clean up after you. I’m faithful to you. I come home to you every night. That has to be worth something.
You said, I’d rather tell you in person.
You said, Shh, don’t cry. I still love you.
You said, Then what the fuck am I supposed to say?
You said nothing.
You said, I know things haven’t been right lately. I was confused, I was thinking about what it might be like to be with someone else. No one you know. But something didn’t feel right. And that was you. I couldn’t leave you. You’re my life. You’re everything that matters. I only want to be with you. I want to try again.
You said, After the way I’ve acted it must be hard to believe. But my last thought before going to sleep each night is how happy I am lying next to you. And my first thought in the morning is how happy I am you are the first thing I see when I wake up.
You said, See? How happy I am?
You said, Let me hold your purse and the “maybes.” Otherwise you’re going to get stressed out in the changing room and you’re not going to like anything. You can call me if you want me to go find you another size, okay?
You said, I’m sure your friend is a nice person. But I’m so sick of running a goddamn youth hostel for over-entitled under-employed Ivy League graduates. So what if she’s paying us? I want to be able to walk around in my underwear. It’s my house.
You said, Why isn’t the internet working?
You said, That’s bullshit.
You said, I never wanted to live here anyway. You remember that.
You said, Could you help me edit what I’ve written so far? You said, I’m not changing that line. You don’t understand what I was trying to say. If you got the joke you wouldn’t think it was offensive.
You said, I don’t have time to read your story right now. You know how busy I am. Maybe I can read it later.
You said, I hate weddings. But this is a friend who’s important to you, so it’s the right thing to do. I’m doing this for you.
You said, I feel bad for all your friends, rushing to waste all their money on these huge weddings. In ten years they’re all going to be wasting their money all over again on their divorces. Your smart friends can be pretty dumb.
You said, There’s no point in getting married until you have the money. Otherwise we might as well just go down to City Hall and then have a dim sum lunch. I’m going to get married when I have enough money to do it up right.
You said, Aren’t we happy together like this? Don’t we have a good life?
You said, I already told you, I’m not going to dance.
You said, When are you going to look over my cover letter for me?
You said, I thought you were going to clean up my resume.
You said, I don’t know what to do about my taxes.
You said, When are we getting a new TV?
You said, You told me you were going to buy us a vacuum cleaner.
You said, Have you taken care of the lease yet?
You said, I know you’re at work, but this is really important. Can we just talk for a second?
You said, Can we just talk for five minutes?
You said, It’s me again. It will only take ten minutes.
You said, It’s really important. Can you call me? It will only take ten minutes.
You said, Never mind. You don’t have to be dismissive. I always have time for you when you want to talk.
You said, I’m so fed up with these people. I can’t handle this. I don’t have to put up with this shit.
You said, It’s not fair.
You said, I know it’s hard for you to see it this way now, but I’m positive I did the right thing, and that eventually you’ll realize I made the right choice. All I’m asking you to do is give me the chance to show you how this is all going to work out for the better.
You said, I’ve never asked you for money before, have I?
You said, Everything’s gone to shit.
You said, Fine! You were right, okay? Does that make you happy? Do you feel better hearing me say that? I hope so, because then at least one of us can feel good.
You said, I just can’t understand why you can’t be a little more supportive right now. Everyone else in my life sees what a hard time I’m going through, everyone else is sympathetic. Then I come home to you and you can’t even listen to what’s going on. Doesn’t that seem a little wrong to you, that my own girlfriend has less time for me than strangers on the street?
You said, How long am I going to have to keep paying for one mistake?
You said, What?
You said, Are you serious?
You said, Somehow this isn’t surprising at all.
You said, You realize this is coming totally out of left field. We weren’t even fighting.
You said, I was giving you space.
You said, Is there someone else?
You said, Let me ask you just one thing. Did you ever even mean it? When you said you loved me? When you talked about us having kids? Growing old together?
You said, You’ve already made up your mind. There’s no point in trying to talk you out of it.
You said, I wish you’d just get your stuff out already so I can move on with my life.
You said, I’ll write you a check for your security deposit once you’ve returned the keys. And handled the Con Ed, the cable, and the internet log-in information. Re-negotiated the lease. Talked to the building manager.
You said, When are you going to have all that taken care of?
You said, That’s the very least you could do.
You said, That’s the very least you could do.
You said, I heard you found a new place. I’m glad. I didn’t like thinking about you not having anywhere to stay. I thought maybe you could just stay here.
You said, It’s awful here without you.
You said, It’s too late now to fight for you, isn’t it?
You said, Is there anything I can say?
* * * * *
"Monologue" first appeared in Anderbo: http://www.anderbo.com/anderbo1/afiction-067.html and is a storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Story. It is also the winner of the Thirteenth Glass Woman Prize.
Juliet Grames is Senior Editor at Soho Press. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.