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New Strangers: A confrontation between a recently broken-up couple
Posted by steve7699, Apr 1, 2012. 4330 views. ID = 5511

New Strangers

Posted by steve7699, Apr 1, 2012. 4330 views. ID = 5511
This post was written in 52 minutes.
This story was inspired by the haunting song, "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye. Something about the music and lyrics grabbed hold of me tight enough to leave marks. And this story...
This post has been awarded 11 stars by 3 readers.

"She wants all of it, Seth."

"I know she does. And I don't care, Lacey."

"She's going to be pissed."

"That's the point. If she wants the rest she needs to come here herself, and actually speak to me, to get it."

Lacey and Sam look at each other. Some message must pass between them because Sam nods, then grabs the box of CDs and pictures from Lacey's hands. He tosses his chin up as a goodbye to me and walks out the open door. Lacey turns and watches him go, seemingly listening to him descend the cement steps. When it's obvious that Sam is well gone, Lacey turns back to me. She shakes her head and takes a few steps towards me.

"What're you doing, Seth? It's over."

"Yeah, I know that. I'm not trying to get her back."

Lacey tries unsuccessfully to hide a smile and answers, "Uh huh. Okay, so what do you want me to tell her?"

I take three long strides so I'm directly in front of her. I cross my arms and lean in a bit. Lacey's eyes widen, but she stands her ground.

"Don't do that. This is not a game. I. Don't. Want. Her. Back."

She furrows her brow, then crosses her own arms, putting weight on her back foot.

"Then, why force to her to come back here? She doesn't want to see you anymore. Why is that such a problem? You told Sam you were glad it's over. So why not just...let her go? She can't be the only girl to dump you."

I chuckle softly and rub the four day stubble on my chin.

"No, she's not the first. And, probably, won't be the last. But, there are rules. Common courtesies that she's broken. They're certain things you don't do under these circumstances."

"Like what?"

Throwing my head back, I laugh loudly. "Let's not go there, Lacey. Tell her she can come get her final two boxes whenever she wants. I plan on doing some painting this week. She's welcome anytime."

I turn and walk away, forcing myself to take slow, deliberate steps towards the sliding door and out onto the "deck". With my back to her, I envision Lacey shaking her head and walking down those same wide, shallow steps.

Praying that I've waited long enough, I turn and walk back into the apartment. My hand on the open fridge door, I'm leaning in to grab a beer, when I hear footsteps coming up the stairs. I stifle a laugh and force myself to stay calm.

"You can come in, Kenna."

I walk around the corner with a beer and the last Diet Dr. Pepper. She's waiting just outside the open door. Wearing dark, denim short-shorts and a burgundy tank-top, she seems paler than normal. She sucks in her breath.

With closed eyes, she says, "You knew I was downstairs, didn't you?"

I feel a smile pull at the corners of my mouth as I hand her the frigid can. I walk to the couch and put my feet up on the magazine covered coffee table.

"You must've thought you needed backup. Why else would Lacey and Sam be here? He hates this kind of thing. It must've taken some convincing to get him to come."

Kenna smiles at the floor. She taps the top of her can five times before popping the top. Same old, same old.

"Yeah, Lacey can be persuasive when she wants to be."

I lean forward to put my unopened beer onto a March Madness Sports Illustrated. I keep my elbows on my knees and motion to the La-Z-Boy across from me.

"Take a seat."

After seeing her hesitate, I sigh and hang my head.

A few seconds later, I look her in the eyes and say, "I'm not going to hurt you, Kenna."

"I know that, Seth."

"Do you? So, you actually know me well enough to say that, huh?"

"What the hell are you talking about? We spent fourteen months together. Of course I know you well enough to say that."

I slap the coffee table with both hands and stand up. Kenna flinches slightly while sipping her soda, but doesn't spill a drop. She raises her eyebrows more out of surprise than fear and sets the can on the table.

"I thought so too, but lately it seems as if you're trying to forget we were even together. You send friends to get your stuff. You haven't answered one message from me. You even change your cell phone number? Really, Kenna? I'm just your ex-boyfriend, not a stalker, or a leper."

Kenna raises her hands to neck level in frustration, then grips them into fists, and grimaces as if just missing an easy trivia question.

She begins to pace back and forth in front me as she speaks. "What is there left to say, Seth? We're done. It was fun for awhile, and then it wasn't. We both needed to move on. I remember you saying that line."

"Yeah, I did say that. And I meant it. But, moving on doesn't mean cutting the other person completely out of your life. It doesn't mean you don't even acknowledge me."

Kenna stops pacing and looks at the rust colored shag carpeting. "Sometimes it does, Seth. Sometimes that's the only way to truly move forward."

I start nodding rapidly. "Cutting me off is bad enough. But, pretending we never happened? That's not right, Kenna. Even if we aren't right for each other. I deserve better than that."

Kenna looks up sharply, as if she's heard a loud noise. "You don't deserve anything. Weren't you spouting off last weekend at the pub, saying you were relieved we broke up? How you tried so hard to love me, 'but it just didn't feel right. The spark was gone'. Blah, blah, blah. Seven people told me about it within a day."

Now, I start pacing, moving my arms frantically as I speak. "Yeah, I did say those things. But, notice I'm actually acknowledging we were together. I'm not ignoring that it ever happened. I never once cheated on you. Never hit you. Nothing. I deserve something for that."

Kenna backs away, racing both her hands through her curly blonde hair. "You should get credit for not beating me or sleeping around? You mean you should get credit for being a normal guy? Are you kidding me? I spent three months blaming myself for every fight or problem we had. I spent six months buying into everything you said about how to maintain and strengthen a 'healthy relationship'.

"I don't want you anymore, Seth. Why should I waste any more time talking about you?"

"Hey! I don't want you either."

Kenna brings her hands up in a questioning posture and says, "Great. So, what's the point in talking about you or us, when we're over? So, you can feel respected by your ex-girlfriend? Why do you even care?"

I throw my head back in exasperation. "Because, it's common courtesy, that's why. I used to make you happy, Kenna. Remember? I deserve credit for that."

"Watching Sesame Street used to make me happy too. Should I tell random people about that, as well? Am I disrespecting Big Bird by not telling people about his soft, yellow feathers, and ultra long beak?"

I give a soft, closed mouth laugh at that one. As I rub my hand down my rough cheek, I stare directly at her for the first time today. She's breathing hard, hands on her hips, sweat is just starting to break out on her neck. A sadness begins to grow in my chest.

"I guess it doesn't matter what I think anymore, does it? I never thought you'd cut me off like you did. Together or not, I thought we meant more to each other than that. When we ended it, I thought we'd be more than strangers afterward."

Kenna brings a hand up to her mouth; she takes and releases a deep, loud breath and closes her eyes. When she opens them, they seem a bit lighter than before, like a baby boy's blanket.

"I think, maybe, that's all we ever really were. It just took us too long to figure it out."

We stare at each other for a few, tortuous moments. My chest feels heavy and thick. Kenna starts to turn away, but stops. She seems to be staring at the bookcase behind me. After a few quick steps she's there. I turn and watch her grab a book, seemingly at random. Kenna then drops it in the top box and grabs another book out of the same box without looking. She tosses it to me. I catch it and realize it's a ragged copy of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

"Is this supposed to mean something?"

"No. But, when someone asks either one of us about either book, we can pretend to think for a moment. Then we can answer vaguely that, 'It's a book someone left here once. Just somebody that I used to know.' I'll be mentioning you then. That should make you happy."

Copyright 2012 steve7699. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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