the book of embraces, chapter Heather
The breakup had been smooth as the lenses at Mount Palomar. The breakup was as easy as it got. The easiest he’d ever had. It was a cognac and an imported beer. Not a word was said. Not one needed to be. They just went their separate ways, even though it was Christmas and New Years at the time.
Neither tried to contact the other and they hadn’t seen each other for three weeks when she visited her sister behind his house in Albuquerque. He had had two beers that afternoon and went out to ask her why.
She gave some of the reasons but none of them were her reasons, they were just reasons, and he wanted to hear her personal reasons on it because he was still hurt about it and missing her. He used to tell her he loved her and he hardly ever said that to anyone since his first girlfriend in high school.
She said some more but it wasn’t what he wanted to hear at all.
So he hit her right in the face. It was an open hand but he was strong and good at hitting so he hurt her mouth pretty well. This was mostly because the things that led to the breakup—the miscarriage, the lesbian affair, the stolen book prize money, the twice retransmitted VD, the cocaine dealer he found her in bed with on New Year’s morning, the death threats—weren’t anywhere as smooth as the actual breaking up part was.