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The Literary Girlfriend: The Good Break Up

April 22, 2014

cover of Ultimate Elektra:Devil's Due and cover of The Awakening

I always knew there was a possibility of Daniella and me breaking up, but I never imagined she’d put a knife to my throat. I thought our break up, if/when it happened, would be business-like. She’d tell me that she had found a rich guy she wanted to marry (and then divorce a few years later) or a handsome stud she had wanted to fool around with instead of me. It wouldn’t be ugly or messy, like Daniella’s break ups usually were. It would be a good break up.

But breaking up wasn’t on my mind as much recently. Daniella had been talking about staying together, buying a house with me, opening a joint bank account. She’d been talking me up and calling me the best boyfriend she’d ever had. She was calling me a stud, and I was starting to believe it.

It all began to fall apart when Daniella stopped going to church. I had quit going a few weeks earlier, and she hadn’t cared. Whatever her new secret financial plan was, it didn’t involve me going to church, so I enjoyed sleeping in and I gave her grief about being devout, and she’d flip me off or cuss me out just before leaving. Even when going to church, it was important for her to stay grounded.

I didn’t think anything of it when she stopped going too. Sleeping in was more fun when she was with me. Her morning grumpiness was endearing when there was nothing planned for the day. And because she didn’t go to church anymore, she didn’t secretly go to Bible study, which meant she no longer had to leave early on Thursdays to pick up her two mythical co-workers, Eve and Delilah (those were the names I’d given them). I asked Daniella once why she had stopped going to church, and she said she didn’t feel like going, and I had never felt like going either, so that was the end of it. We were two religion-free, godless (or Godless) “soul mates.”

Things became awkward at work because my boss suddenly stopped talking to me. When Daniella had been going to Bible study, my boss had been treating me in a more friendly way and would occasionally stop by my cubicle and tell me what a delightful woman Daniella was. But then he stopped visiting, and I got work-related messages from him via other coworkers (this was in the 1990s before email), and I knew that wasn’t a good sign.

After a couple weeks of a distant work relationship, I felt like I needed to know what was going on, but I wasn’t sure whom to talk to, Daniella or my boss. My boss would probably give me a more honest answer, but then I’d have to admit that my girlfriend kept secrets from me, and I’d probably end up with more new questions than answers, questions that only Daniella could answer. Daniella would either lie or just refuse to tell me (or do both), so once I decided to confront Daniella, I devised a strategy. I couldn’t demand answers because that would lead to an argument. I had to be firm and casual at the same time. I had to make her want to tell me.

I was chopping peppers for my spaghetti sauce (or maybe for our salads, I don’t remember, but I was chopping something that wasn’t an onion) on a Saturday evening just a couple hours before Daniella would leave for work. Daniella sat watching me in our tiny dining area next to the kitchen. She rarely helped cook. She didn’t wash dishes either. She also never complained about my cooking, even when I screwed things up, so I never complained about her not helping.

“I’ve got a question for you,” I said. “My boss recognized you in our photo that you gave me, the one in my cubicle. He goes to St. Luke’s. He says you go to Bible study on Thursdays. Is he right?”

I had decided ahead of time that if she lied, that I’d drop the matter, so I gave her a way to lie that wouldn’t make it sound like she was telling a lie. She could just say that he was wrong, it must be somebody that looks like her (an unlikely possibility), and I’d act like I accepted her answer.

“I guess I should have told you,” she said.

I hadn’t expected that, an indirect admission.

“Why didn’t you?” I asked.

She hesitated. “You’d of asked a bunch more questions. Why are you going? Who did you see? What did you talk about? Have you found Jesus yet?” She made a fart sound with her lips.

“Why did you stop going?” I asked instead.

“It’s a long story,” she said, stretching her arms out and pretending to yawn. Neither of us said anything for a few minutes while I made the sauce and started boiling the noodles.

“You’re giving me the silent treatment?” Daniella said.

“I’m always quiet,” I said. “And I’m cooking.”

“This is a special kind of quiet. You’re giving me revenge quiet.”

“I don’t do revenge quiet,” I said. If I had wanted passive-aggressive retribution, I would have turned on C-SPAN really loudly instead, and she knew that.

“Fine, here’s what happened,” Daniella said. She got up and paced around the dinner table. “After Bible study on Thursdays, I would get counseled by Father Murdock. In his office.”

Oh no, I thought, not the priest. He already had an attractive fiancé, but I still had an idea of where this was going. I really hoped that I was wrong.

“He counseled me about marriage and said if you weren’t ready, then I shouldn’t push you, but he also said that I shouldn’t live with you if you weren’t ready to commit.”

I braced myself. This wasn’t going to be good.

“Then, after a couple more sessions, he started telling me about what was going wrong with his own relationship. He said he was having doubts, that he might not want to get married either.”

Here it comes, I thought.

“And then, a couple weeks ago, when we were in his office, and we were alone, he… he…”

“Oh my God,” I said. I rarely say (or said) “Oh my God!” I’ve believed for a long time that “Oh my God!” is an overused expression. People say “Oh my God!” to things that don’t deserve an “Oh my God!” But this deserved an “Oh my God!”

“I didn’t, you know,” Daniella said. “I told him I wasn’t like that, but he…”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

“I had to push him away.”

“I can’t believe this,” I said.

“I couldn’t believe it either,” Daniella said.

“No, I mean, I can’t believe you’re doing this.” Everything made sense now. The Bible study. The phone calls from that lawyer, Darren B. Smelley. The secret plan.

“Doing what?” Daniella said, brushing hair out of her face.

“This was your plan?” I said. “No wonder you wouldn’t tell me.”

“You think I’m…” Daniella squinted her eyes and shook her head.

“You can’t go through with this,” I said. “There are too many people that get harmed by this. If you sue him or the church, it damages a lot of innocent people.”

“He’s a priest,” Daniella said, her voice getting louder. “He didn’t have the right to touch me like he did. He was abusing his power, and he thought he could get away with it.”

The way she said it, I could tell that it was the lawyer talking.

“So you’re going to sue him and the church and get a lot of money out of this.”

“Damn right, I am!” Daniella said, hands on her hips. “Smelley says we’re getting a settlement, maybe even a big one.”

“I… you can’t do this,” I said.

“It’s none of your business.  And you can’t do anything about it anyway.”

“I…  could tell the church that you planned the whole…”

Before I could finish, Daniella leaped into the kitchen, grabbed the chopping knife off the counter, and stuck it at my throat. It happened so quickly, all I could do was lean back and grip the counter.

“You tell anybody that, and I swear I’ll cut you,” she hissed.

Even though the point of the blade didn’t touch me, it seemed so close that I could feel it pinch my skin. I was tempted to make a play for her wrists, but Daniella was strong. She worked out, and dancers tend to be muscular in certain places, and if I grabbed her wrists and she pushed forward, my blood would be all over the place. I leaned back against the counter and trusted Daniella. She wouldn’t stab me, I knew it. I was pretty sure.

Then the knife moved back, enough for me to get a good look at it, and I saw it shake and slowly waver. I’d been told if somebody ever pulled a weapon on me to not look at the weapon but to focus on the assailant’s eyes or elbows or whatever, I couldn’t remember which just then, but all I could focus on was the knife. It moved slowly down to my right, and when I felt safe taking my eyes off it, I saw Daniella, her own eyes wide and red, stare at it as she placed it on the kitchen counter without a sound. Then she pushed it with her fingertips into the sink.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean that.”

But then her finger was in my face, and her voice turned rough again. “But if you talk, I’ll cut you, I swear I will!”

“That’s much better,” I said. “I don’t feel as threatened.”

“It’s not funny,” Daniella said. “Just stay out of this. It’s none of your business.”

“Yes, it.. it is,” I sputtered. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and what had just happened. “Everything with us has been a lie. I thought maybe we were together because we somehow fit. But now, I know all that ‘soul mate’ talk was just a bunch of crap.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You just used me as a front, to make you look respectable. I can’t believe I fell for it.”

“You think that’s what this is about? You think I’m…”

“I can’t believe I was stupid enough to believe that you’d feel anything for me, or for anybody,” I said.

“Get out!” Daniella said. She pointed to the door.

“It’s my apartment,” I said.

“GET OUT!” Daniella’s hard voice carried, the voice that threatened immediate violence, even without the chopping knife. I hadn’t heard that voice in months, had almost forgotten she was capable of it.

I could feel everything escalating again, which wouldn’t do either of us any good, so I moved out of the kitchen.

“Alright, I’ll just grab some clothes.”

“You want your clothes?” Daniella said, brushing past me. She reached into her purse/bag and pulled out a pair of scissors. “You really want your clothes? I’ll get you your clothes!”

And then she rushed down the hallway toward the bedroom.

Whoa, whoa, I thought, still trying to grasp that Daniella carried scissors in her purse/bag. And then I realized what she was going to use the scissors for.

“Alright, alright!” I called down the hallway. “I don’t want my clothes! Keep the clothes! I absolutely… do… not… want… the clothes!”

Before I could hear her response, I darted into the kitchen and turned off all the stoves. Then I walked briskly (maybe I ran, and my brain won’t let me remember it that way) out the apartment, down the stairs, and through the labyrinth of apartment units to the parking lot. If Daniella was going to shred my clothes or curse me from the balcony, it would be better if I wasn’t there as an audience.

I got out of there as quickly as I could. I could be cursed at, flipped off, insulted, but Daniella had pulled a knife on me and was likely cutting up my wardrobe and maybe even my comic books (probably not, because those were worth money. She might pawn them, but she wouldn’t cut them). I drove out of the apartment complex as quickly as possible (but still safely). Daniella could have the apartment for a day or two. As I drove, I felt my pulse beat faster, and I started processing everything that had happened. Too much had happened too quickly for me to think clearly, but I knew one thing was certain.

Daniella and I had just broken up.


To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Penultimate Episode .

If you want to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.

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  1. Good stuff. I like that part where the guy asks if she found Jesus.

  2. anaivefan permalink

    Reblogged this on anaivefan's Blog.

  3. I do like this story. I love the narrator’s commentary, the way he (I’m assuming i’s a he?) shows his uncertainties. Looking forward to the next instalment

  4. Veronica permalink

    Wow… Didn’t see that coming.

  5. “Whatever her new secret financial plan was, it didn’t involve me going to church, so I enjoyed sleeping in and I gave her grief about being devout, and she’d flip me off or cuss me out just before leaving. Even when going to church, it was important for her to stay grounded.”

    Subtle hilarity. I love it.

  6. D’oh, that’s sad, although I guess it had to happen eventually, unless she’s now your wife.

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