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By Alexa Asher
I knew before I woke up that he would be gone. That was no surprise. What I wondered, though, was whether he'd left a quick sloppy note saying, "Had to run. Thanks for last night." Or if he was the sensitive type who didn't want to hurt my feelings and instead would write, "Sorry about leaving so early, I had a great time and would love to see you again" -- although he couldn't see me again even if he'd wanted to, because he'd never asked for my number.
I started obsessing: Will the note be on the pillow next to mine, where his soft brown hair lay last night? Or on the kitchen counter next to the coffee mug he drank from and then left for me to wash? Is it even worth it to open my eyes at this point? Will I feel any better about myself if I get out of bed? God, when am I going to grow up?
After a long debate over whether I should get up and make breakfast or just lie there until I starved to death and was found weeks later, half eaten by dogs, by the upstairs neighbor who'd complained to police about the stench of my rotting corpse, I decided to get up--mainly because there weren't any dogs to eat me, a fact that would deprive my tragic story of the required juicy tidbit. Plus, James, and not my neighbor, was supposed to be the one to find my decaying corpse -- the whole plan was to punish him for his horrible behavior.
Better yet, James would come to the apartment the night before, eyes full of tears, begging for forgiveness, screaming, "I'm nothing without you! Please take me back and I promise to spend the rest of my life making this up to you." However, before he'd had a chance to say any of that, he would find Tim or Todd or whatever his name was and me lying in bed drinking that expensive red wine James and I had bought in Napa, which we were saving for our three-year anniversary next week. He'd see me smiling, laughing, having a great time, and he'd be completely heartbroken by the sight of me enjoying the company of another man, and he'd run out into the street and get hit by a car, winding up in the hospital with two broken legs and a fractured arm.
Of course, after hearing the terrible news, I'd rush to the hospital to hold his hand and be by his side during his time of pain. He'd apologize for all the heartache he'd caused me, promise that she was out his life for good, and tell me I'm the only woman he could ever love. I'd forgive him, of course. How could I not? He's the one for me, and when it comes down to it, I'd rather fight with him than make love to anyone else.
So I got up...no note on the pillow. Great, so he's that kind of guy. I put on my light-pink robe, the one James had bought me last Christmas, with the matching slippers that were actually too big but that I wore anyway because he had picked them out himself, and went into the kitchen.
There it was--the note.
Should I even read it? I know what the damn thing will say. But he was so nice, I'm sure it's gentle. I can't imagine him writing anything rude. Rude or not, it's still the same message: Goodbye forever. Well...what the hell.
Ever since James left, "What the hell" had become my life's motto. Unfortunately, it wasn't turning out to be a very good one.
"Want another piece of cake?"
"What the hell."
"The bag looks great on you. Do you want to charge it?"
"What the hell."
"Can I buy you a drink?"
"What the hell."
"Want to go back to your place?"
"What the hell."
So far, this motto had helped me gain six pounds and a huge credit card bill, and now it had landed me in this damn situation. Oh, what the hell.
Way to pretend to be sweet.
I'd prefer that you didn't have to read this note.
I'm sure you would.
I'd hoped I would be back before you woke up.
Back? From where?
I wanted to surprise you and make you breakfast, but your cupboards informed me that you haven't been to the grocery store in a while.
It's been about two weeks. Wait! What is he saying here?
So I ran to the store to pick up some things. I'll be back soon.
He's coming back? What kind of one-night stand is this?
P.S. I hope you enjoyed last night as much as I did. You're really an amazing woman.
Is this some kind of a joke? He's not seriously coming back.
Knock, knock, knock.
"Lilly, are you awake? It's me, Tom."
Alexa Asher was born and raised in San Francisco. She has lived in Noe Valley for the past four years, which, since she is only 16 years old, is a quarter of her life. After attending the Jewish Community High School for three years, she is currently following a course of independent study through the University of Indiana. "The One-Night Stand" is her first published piece of fiction.
The Noe Valley Voice invites you to submit fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry or photos for publication on the Last Page. Mail manuscripts, which should be no longer than 1,500 words, to the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address, and phone number, and an SASE if you want your manuscript returned. We look forward to hearing from you.