Allen broke up with me on post-its. I almost missed the small, slightly askew, stack of pale yellow notes. They weren’t even the full-size squares or fun shades of bold neon. They were tiny. When I came home from work, as I set down the mail on the hutch, I barely noticed them neatly placed just to the left of the rest of the unopened mail. The stack was too thick to be an explanation of leftovers and not thin enough for one of his plain haiku. Nor did they appear to contain the passive aggressive points he often issued with an angry little stack, more boldly expressed with a Sharpe. These were written in pencil. Like a whisper.
The automatic assumptions made within the first several seconds of a potential change flash so quickly you rarely have a moment to determine whether such thoughts could even be considered rational. The other night, an ambulance arrived at grumpy old Reggie’s next door and I hate to admit I had a ping of excitement. I was going to make brownies for the new young couple who bought his house after he died. I would share a bottle of wine with the wife on a spring Friday afternoon, both of us home early from work. The men would come home and commiserate at our heading into the weekend without them while they got the grill started. And then we’d all snack on skewers and brats and too much wine in Reggie’s beautiful Japanese garden.
Of course, it takes you more time to say such thoughts or write such thoughts than it does to entertain them, secretly, in that brief moment. It’s more like a series of fast frame photos. They snap faster than you could press, but you can still go back and look at dozens of pictures, taken milliseconds apart.
When I saw those notes, I knew he was gone. And though I would never admit it to him, not even now, there was a slight moment when I felt relieved, even free. Just a slight moment, prior to the panic.