How to Get By (While Your Partner Is in Europe, on Work)
1 List the spare room on AirBNB. Buy two cot mattresses and a handful of nubby white towels from Walmart and wonder why nobody’s booked you yet. Try to come up with a more realistic word for “luxurious”. Think about how Ted Hughes met Assia Wevill when he and Sylvia Plath rented out their flat to her — “We didn’t find her,” Ted wrote of it. “She found us.” Wonder who will find you. Feel guilty for this.
2 Parallel park in the city, to prove that you can. Go to your job at the Barnes & Noble and listen to your manager explain why you aren’t the one getting the promotion. Act disappointed but secretly agree with him. Down four coffees just so you can watch your own hands shake.
3 Check your AirBNB account and your bank account at the same time. Be disappointed in both. Drink too much Merlot at dinner. Look out the window and think about how you’d be able to see the Reunion Tower if it weren’t for the other buildings. Add “great view” to your listing. Feel guilty for lying. Drink more.
5 Answer your partner’s Skype call at four in the morning and listen to them apologize for the time difference. Reply, “it’s just time.” Time is not important. Wish that they would apologize for the space, instead.
6 Sob into The Bell Jar during a bathroom break at work. Then, scold yourself for marrying Sylvia’s words to her life. You have a knack for taking away people’s dimensions one by one until there are none left — know this. Tell yourself you’ll fix it.
7 Remember that your partner told you, “things here are temporary,” and that things meant their work abroad, but it really means everything else, too. Scroll through their social media and wonder if there’s anything you should be getting revenge for. Feel guilty for thinking such a thing.
8 Prep the spare room for Chris and Amanda P., who tell you they’re from Cleveland. Offer to give them a tour of the city and hope they say no because you don’t want to be that close to someone else’s happiness. Put your phone away and refuse to look at it until the morning.
9 Don’t be surprised when your partner tells you there’s someone else — just be angry, angry you didn’t beat them to the punch. Listen when they tell you that nothing’s happened — yet — but tune them out after that. Go to work three hours early when you hang up. Decide to never feel guilty for anything ever again. Tell all your customers the books they want are sold out, without checking.
10 Think about the people you’ve reduced to their actions. Drive home too fast and want to tear up the spare room, but instead, light a lavender candle and make up the beds.
11 Wait. Wait and wait and wait and wait and wait.
Kyra Kondis is an MFA candidate in fiction at George Mason University. She is also the owner of three (3) small cacti. Her work can be found in or forthcoming in Matchbook, Queen Mob’s, Synaesthesia Magazine, and Wigleaf.
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