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On Loneliness

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It’s usually a lie when certain people say that they would rather be alone than in bad company. Take for example, Ms. Bernard: divorced, still single, and searching for prince charming between the pages of People magazine on her kitchen counter on a Saturday night. Sure, when you ask her if she’s doing alright she’ll tell you that she’s perfectly fine and dandy, that she’s darn glad that her lousy, two-timing scumbag of a husband is out of her life for good; but look more closely.

Look at the way her fingers compulsively fold the same crease on the page announcing Britney’s latest breakdown, as if that one article could somehow save her life; look at the way she bites her inner cheeks. Notice that she set the table for two, and that her hair and make-up are done, and her eyes– you can’t really see her eyes because it’s not you she’s staring at; her gaze flickers back and forth to the door where he used to walk through every day after work, to the spot where he’d drop his bag and coat. She would get mad at him every time, she now reminisces with regret, she would tell him to pick up his goshdarned coat and his goshdarned bag and stick ’em in the gosharned closet, else why did they pay the worker to hook the doors up in the first place?

She shouldn’t have. She shouldn’t have yelled at him, she should have let him throw his coat and bag across her face and do as he pleased, because after all, who was she to tell him what to do? His wife, yes, she was his wife, was being the predominant word in this sentence, but what kind of special authority did that really give her? Oh yes sure, she did the cooking and the cleaning, and tidied up the bills all nicely so he could sort them out himself, and she always made sure that all their family members each received their respective present on holidays, even that stupid cow of a woman he called mother, but that hardly mattered at all. He didn’t love her, not any more, which is why he needed someone else.
Ms. Bernard had never given much thought to what She might look like– tall, short, blonde, ugly, skinny, with freckles or a double chin or a birth mark– she didn’t care. She hadn’t even bothered asking for a name; the only notion she had of Her was that She must simply be plain better than her, period. It wasn’t something that she had even pondered over; if She was able to love him, then clearly, She must be a more accomplished, more successful, more virtuous woman than she could ever hope to become. Because love, that was something that required some sort of discipline and dexterity, someone who knew how to work it. It was what her husband needed and everything she wasn’t; it was only logical that he would look for it elsewhere.
But where exactly did that leave her in the greater geography of things? Let’s see, there was the Unfaithful Husband, the Superior Lover and of course, the Horny Wife. Not a very flattering title, and in the midst of the unfolding events of the time, it was more than unflattering to poor Ms. Bernard– it was downright revolting. With that thought in mind, it’s hard to blame the woman for the stitches on her ex-husband’s forehead, (made possible by a hideous flower lamp, courtesy of that Stupid Cow Of An In-Law) and yet Ms. Bernard sees it as the biggest mistake of her life. Certainly not repentant of injuring him, or of shattering the lamp, she has spent every day since then wishing that she could somehow magically undo the past: leave the lamp as it was, keep her big mouth shut, endure, endure, endure, because suffering is a silly little thing, nothing more than a pencil mark that washes itself away with time. But loneliness– that never leaves. It stains deep down to your bones, and no Oxyclean in the world can help her get rid of it.
Maybe, she thinks sitting on her kitchen counter, flipping page after page of births and deaths and new loves that don’t belong to her, maybe if she had pretended to have never seen them holding hands outside of Fairview Movie Theater, things would have been better tonight. If she had hushed up, acted normal, not given anyone a clue about what she knew– then maybe right now, she would have been a little bit less lonely.





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