She and her analyst spend the nicer part of an afternoon analyzing a hyphenated "l-o-v-e" stuck on the end of a letter. “Is it hyphenated for emphasis?”
“No, the dashes are sticks in the love. They cut up the word. They spread the love thin across the page. It is a weak love.”
“The hyphens are chains?”
“The hyphens are needles.”
“What if the hyphens are just playful. A nod to e e cummings. Maybe they are influenced by hip hop music?”
“They are needles.” A sigh escapes from the air-conditioner. “I am confident they are needles.”
Wednesdays are Beginners Class Yoga. She sits in her spot. During a pause she falls asleep. The others assume she is meditating. They try not to stare. They stretch. The sad girlfriend wakes to a start. She licks the drool at her cheek. “I was just meditating,” she explains loudly. The others nod.
“What did you see?” they whisper. “What did you find out?”
A portrait of a sad girlfriend can find shade in many silhouettes.
Trying to cry on the toilet. Struggling with the passenger-side
seatbelt. Scowling under the weight of an arm. Growing up, girls
ambition to be girlfriends. Birthday candles die for it.
“At first it was black, cause my eyes were closed. I could hear
you calling out downward dog, sun salutation, downward dog. I
saw numbers, and the numbers were in colors. Then I was in a
Starbucks, except everything was made of water. The floor was
shallow water, the walls were deep. There were different cups
and each one held inside it A Joke.” A murmur across the class.
“What kind of joke?” “Did you try the joke?” “Was I in your
meditation?” The yoga teacher silences them with a hand
Tim McWilliams eyes his girlfriend through his glasses. Sad
again? And over what? Strawberry ice-cream thrown in with the
chocolate and vanilla? Can’t a spoon spoon around it?
“Strawberry ice-cream tastes nothing like strawberries. It’s just
an unpleasant reminder.” Tim McWilliams has spent a fortune
on blockbuster new releases. Can’t the night recover in the
dark? The sad girlfriend shakes her head.
It can seem that nothing is happening. The clouds do their thing
over buildings. The commercials cue up at commercial breaks. A
story meanders slowly without any discernable plot. But behind
these blinds, a world is breathing breaths on top of breaths
already breathed. Brad Pitt is slowly falling out of love, and into
a new love. Matter into energy, energy into light.
The sad girlfriend paints her nails with polish. She decides to
change outfits before the polish has time to dry. It smudges. She
does not cry. She wipes the smudged nail on toilet paper and the
toilet paper sticks to the smudged nail. So, she uses nail polish
remover, which gets her high. Or it doesn’t get her high. Or it
does get her high. She checks gmail. She checks gmail. She
“A Kim Basinger movie made my relationship look boring.” The
clock drags its minute hand constant and even.
“What first attracted you to Tim?” The analyst searches her hair
The girlfriend waits for the subway pressing her metrocard to
her lips. She walks to the edge of the platform and peers down
the tunnel. Where are the bright eyes of the train? A couple
leans against the wall waiting, hugging out of boredom. The
train comes, everyone sits down; the train pulls out. Inside the
car, no one moves. The eyes of the passengers roam uneasily
over the advertisements, onto the other passengers, then quickly
to the lonely tunnel out the window with its repetitive graffiti
tags. “We were in a swimming pool and his eyelashes clung
together like tips of a crown. That was attractive to me.” The sad
girlfriend feels a feeling in her stomach. She sits very still. There
are no other girls in her car. She folds her arms across her
boobs. She makes an unattractive face. There is a big shit in my
stomach and it won’t come out my butt. The subway car halts to
a stop. The analyst floats into Starbucks, “Why do you think this
is?” I think it’s scared. The passengers keep their faces straight.
If the sad girlfriend lets her eyes linger too long on any one man,
the man might later log on to craigslist and post a missed
encounters entry. The sad girlfriend searches for a small child to
keep her faith in. During subway halts she finds it helpful to
focus her fear and hope into a small child. There are none in
sight. The lights cut out. The subway car waits in the anxious
dark. Probably, Terrorists have killed the subway driver. The
analyst pinches her fingers on the thin half-hairs of the split
end. It will either be gas that knocks everyone in comas, or
they’ll come in with knifes, bullets, flames. The terrorists keep
going after New York cause it’s a symbol. Washington has more
important people. California, more effective people. But New
York City is the big American pinball machine. Its skyline stands
like bottles in a row, waiting to be knocked down saloon-style.
There is no announcement from the subway driver. The analyst
pulls and sees how far up the split-end will split. The girlfriend
searches again for a child. In this year of early ’00s, anxiety is
indoors. It’s being surrounded by still objects, walls too white
and too smooth. Outside, the trees swish, the birds chatter, an
ant will crawl over your leg and include you; but inside you are
alone as dead. The only sound to accompany the air-conditioner
is the flutter and sigh of a dead plastic bag, the metallic whine of
a miss-programmed wake up alarm. M4w, E train 3 am: You
were the sad girl wearing a blue t-shirt and white/light grey
shorts. Me, tan khakis, black shirt w/white logo, black glasses,
bob marley was playing on my iPod shuffle. You had wavy hair
tied back, then you let it down. You have an amazing natural
beauty. The sad girlfriend rubs her metrocard on her face. Some
of the ink has left the card and stained her nose. Is it ever worth
wearing a dress? In the day it can feel relaxing, but by night it’s
just a flag waving to the rapists. The sad girlfriend realizes her
eyes have been resting in someone else’s eyes. The someone else
smiles. You sat by the door. I stole a few glances, didn't stare,
but totally wanted to. You were breathtaking. If you happen to
read this and are available/interested send me a email.
Sometimes landing a boyfriend feels like being drafted in the
NBA. Well, I’ve always wanted to play for Chicago, ever since I
was little watching games. I think I can really help this ballclub
out of its recent difficulties. Which one of her thoughts will be
the last to sulk around her brain understood? Her parents feel
far away as a wallet-sized photograph. Her tombstone will stand
straight, while Brad Pitt’s life continues in its wayward path.
The darkness of the subway car is Truth. Outside the tunnel the
world is living its noisy way. A.m. eyes are dizzy from craigslist.
Bulky guys are flashing flashlights over driver’s licenses. Why
were buildings built over our sky? It’s only occasionally when we
see the moon, but it’s supposed to be the main thing up there.
You take the train from Astoria to Manhattan. You're about 5'6",
petite, really cute short dark hair, always dress casually; tee
shirt, cargo pants, etc. I think you're greek. You never smile. You
are so unbelievably sexy and rarely look up from your sudoku.
The world has already ended. It ended when Chris Columbus
peed on land. When Jesus died and everyone got obsessed with
him. In 2000 when everything was going to fuck up and then
nothing fucked up at all. The whole next millennium lay open,
its ten centuries available, its decades in rows. No one is
watching us lay toilet paper on the wet public toilet seats. The
babies becoming grandmothers. Movies remaking themselves
over. We carry our water in cups, draw sunglasses on our sun. I
should've said something but couldn't think of anything unlame
to say. You looked so tired, slouching in your tank top. Let me
take care of you. I see you most every working day. We enter the
train thru the same set of doors and exit at Penn. You have dark
shoulder length hair, which is sometimes still wet in the
morning. I am too shy to say hi. You were the most incredible
beauty I saw all day. You are absolutely stunning. I was amazed
by your beauty and was in awe and I am never in awe of anyone
or anything. Eventually I'll have to say something to you, maybe
when I see you walking down 22nd to the stop, flip-flops
pattering out the beats of my heart. You sat with me until i got
off at times sq. the conductor said be careful to the 59th st. stop
and i said careful of what? we looked at each other and you
similed. The sad girlfriend may die a terrible death of terrorists.
There will be no children there to watch with honest eyes. The
analyst will be so upset. The sad girlfriend had tried to watch the
world news, but the stories lacked the details needed to engage
her. Brad Pitt fell for a girl that doesn’t wear shoes when she
doesn’t want to. To have a boyfriend is to play in the privileged
center of a story. To be sad is to hang low, matching mind to
gravity, to feel the indoors and outdoors so hard it makes your
head ring. This is being written to the angel who shared her
bottle of water with a homeless person during the heat wave.
You were wearing a beige see-through outfit. You had a
beautiful golden complexion. I believe you are Italian. I hope
that you are out there.