“The Break Up”
by Thadd Presley
She called me from a pay phone downtown and told me it was over. She didn’t cry and she didn’t explain. She just said that it was over and she realized she no longer loved me . When I pleaded with her to tell me what was going on and how this could have happened, she blamed it on the summer and my part-time job at the mall. She said if I would have only been around more she would have never met Brad. Brad who, I asked. His name was like being doused in freezing water; out of no where, it stopped me in my tracks. How could she do this? How could she be with someone else so quickly? When I asked her if she had cheated on me, she hung up. I listened to the phone beep for three full minutes before it stopped. I continued to hold it to my ear for a minute longer. Then, I threw it against the wall.
During our argument, I kept my voice low. My father used to like Sally, but since he learned we were dating he didn’t want her around the house and wouldn’t let us be together, which is why I took the job at the mall. It gave me a reason to be out of the house and a place we could meet and see each other.
I knew my dad was downstairs. I imagined him sitting in his reclining chair, drinking scotch, when I was on the phone. Then he heard the crash of the telephone and I didn’t have to imagine anymore.
I knew he was on his way because the chair makes a certain sound when it is closed to fast, like a spring being tightened too much. It wasn’t fifteen seconds before I heard his thuds coming up the stairs. There wasn’t any chance he was going to my brothers room, although Jimmy’s room was across the hallway from mine. My dad never thudded to Jimmy’s room. It was only towards me that my father thudded.
Bang, Bang!! went my bedroom door and then it opened quickly enough to send a gust of air across my small roll-top desk. Two pages of algebra notes were caught up and swooped onto the floor. My dad’s eyes were bloodshot and he wasn’t in a good mood. He hadn’t gone into work for the last three days and he’d spent most of the time in the living room watching television. Now, that my mother was gone for good, he could drink at home. He used to go to the bar, three blocks away.
He surveyed my room for a moment, looking for something out of place. When I didn’t say what the noise was, he spoke: “Why are you crying?”
“I’m not,” I said and cringed.
“Don’t lie to me.” He rubbed his hands together. “Just don’t give me a reason tonight, I’m not in the mood.”
“I’m not giving you a reason.”
It wasn’t the first time my dad hit me, but it hurt worse than ever before. He never hit me hard enough to hurt, it was more of a warning, but the damage was always there. Killing very slowly my heart and spirit.
When I sat still and didn’t respond, he stepped forward. “You want that I do it again?” He asked this in a tone that I knew was going to get worse the longer I didn’t cooperate. But I got a surprise. His face changed, his hands went down. When he realized I was genuinely upset, his voice softened.
“Why are you crying? Tell me.”
“I’m crying because Sally broke up with me and pretty much admitted she has been dating someone else.” A wave of sadness filled me, tears ran from my eyes, not in drops but gushed. I coughed and gagged on the emotions that came out. I’d never cried so hard in my life, not even when mom left. I was having a break down.
Then dad started laughing.
“Is that all?” He said, turning toward the hall. “Hey Jimmy, come here. Hurry.”
I looked at him in disbelief. How could he be laughing at me? He knew how hard this relationship had been. How much I’d sacrificed to be with her. He had to know how hard it was going to be for me because of how much I loved Sally.
My brother poked his head into my room. “Jimmy, look here,” my dad beamed with happiness, “we got some great news today and I want the whole house to hear it.”
Jimmy had heard from his bedroom and all the commotion, but he was too nervous to comment, so my father did it all for him.
“That’s right, Jimmy,” my dad continued, “Sally done called and broke the relationship off.” He put his hands up, “Thank God!! Am I right?”
This made me so mad that, for a moment, I didn’t care what happened to me. I stood up knowing I was going to punch my dad, but Jimmy saved the day.
He looked at me and noticed the small spot of blood at the corner of my mouth. “You mean, you’re not going to hit Joselyn anymore?”
“That‘s right son.”
“So, it’s true,” he asked me. “Sally really broke up with you and you’re not going to be a lesbian anymore?”
I started to say something, but my dad interrupted. “That’s right Jimmy, your sister’s not a dike anymore and we can all go back to the way it was.”
This brought such a big smile to my younger brother and I couldn’t do anything that would take that smile away. He’s suffered right along with me.
“Dad’s right. Sally broke up with me and it’s over. Cool, huh?”
He jumped for joy. My dad stood up and gave me a hug. Then he kissed my forehead. “Damn, this is such a good night.” I smelled the scotch on his breath and for the first time in my life I wondered if it would help me forget Sally ever existed. “I gotta call Fred. He’s been having the same problem with his daughter.”
I quickly glanced at the corner and saw the broken phone beside my tattered Teddy bear.
“Would you call from downstairs, so I can get ready for bed? I just want to sleep for now.”
“Sure, anything you want, darling, anything you want.” my dad said as he was leading my brother our of my room. “Anything you want…”