Over over

What’s past is prologue, and the world awaits. – Lisa Mantchev

Albertine et Mariette, les cousines dites “irlandaises” (12 November 2020)

The family resemblance between Albertine and Mariette is evident: both are pale-skinned, square-nosed, rosy-cheeked, freckly gingers. The way they style their thick eyebrows and their equally thick, long hair in braided coils around their ears suggests a particular closeness. They are cousins, Irish ones so people say because of their physical features, but they could be sisters. They could be twins. They could be the same person. Me, split up over something.

My marriage is over. With papers and everything. Jerry is no longer my husband, no longer my life partner. Part of me understands that this is for the best, that this chapter of my life is done and that I am better for it: Mariette. Her eyes may be closed, but she faces fully what Albertine can only bring herself to look at anxiously from a side angle. We have caught Mariette in a moment of acceptance, right when she has closed her eyes to take a deep, calming breath. There is peace in her face. Albertine, obviously, is not there yet.

Poor Albertine. Her marriage had been light on the affection and the sex she so badly craved, and she had not been happy in it, but Jerry had been her most loved, trusted, and loyal friend. It is this friendship that she doesn’t know how to release. That it scares her, in fact, to imagine living without. So much so, that she wonders if she wouldn’t be willing to try again, divorce papers or not.

Rusty paint chips for Albertine et Mariette, les cousines dites “irlandaises” (fire escape railing of my Adelphi Street apartment)

Maybe Jerry wanted this, too. After his return from Mali where he had escaped the worst months of the pandemic, he had reached out to her after all. They were meeting a couple times a week now, early in the morning, to go for long walks in Prospect Park like they used to. He’d even come over a few times for dinner. It feels nice. It feels comfortable. She thinks to herself: I can live without romance; I can live without human touch. I’m living without either of these things now, aren’t I?

Oh, Albertine. Jerry has a girlfriend. It’s not his first since you separated, but this one is serious. I know he told you he wasn’t dating and that he was taking some time to think, but that was before he met this woman. And you know how fast these things go sometimes. Remember the head spinning, breakneck speed with which Jerry pushed first your separation and then your divorce through? That kind of fast. The idea of getting back together with you is the last thing on Jerry’s mind; he’s in love with this other woman. You’ll see them together in a few months, walking down Dekalb Avenue, dressed so beautifully, and holding hands. From behind, thankfully; you won’t be looking your best that day. Instagram will fill you in on the rest.

Turn and face the facts, Albertine. Turn and face the truth. It’s over with Jerry. Not just a little bit. Over over. As in you can’t even be friends with him over. It is preventing you from moving on and move on you must; so much awaits you. Close your eyes, take a deep breath. Cut the ties. Don’t look back. Move on. Mariette has; you can, too.

2 thoughts on “Over over”

  1. I always enjoy reading these. Really brings you in the moment; which great writers typically do. I look at the drawing first and try to figure out what may be going on; then after I read the story behind it, I always go back and look at the drawing again and try to see it through your eyes. And I love short stories.


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