by Peter Cherches
She left it on the kitchen table, under the pepper mill, so I wouldn’t miss it. The note thanked me for everything—that was it. How does someone leave you with nothing but a note that thanks you for everything? No explanation, no apologies, no regrets, no recriminations, just thanks. A note! Not even to my face! I’ve been left before, but always to my face. What kind of coward is she, to leave me with just a note, so impersonal? OK, she wanted to avoid confrontation, I get it. Sure I can be difficult. Sure she knew how I’d react. But so what? Didn’t I still deserve the common courtesy of being left in person? “We had some good times, Pete. Thanks for everything.” Thanks for everything? Isn’t that really a euphemism for “thanks for nothing”? We had some good times? Some? How many, a few? “Lots of” would have been nice, but “some”? What, could she count the good times on the fingers of one hand? Five years together, five good times? One good time a year, on average. Maybe one year had two good times and another year had none. The nerve of the woman. Thanks for everything indeed. And what did I have to thank her for? Plenty, actually, but she didn’t even give me the chance. I thought we had plenty of good times. I mean too many to count, too many to remember. I thought they were good times for both of us, but apparently not. So which of my good times were also her good times? I really needed to know. If I was going to remember the good times we had together, I’d have to know which good times we really did have together. If they were only good times for me, they no longer counted. I was devastated. I hadn’t counted on this. I certainly hadn’t counted on her leaving, and even if I could have imagined it, I didn’t think she’d do it in a way that called into question everything I’d believed about our time together. I thought it was a near-perfect relationship, actually, only to discover that for her it was nothing more than a few trifling good times. So what was the rest of the time like for her? Pure hell? Is that what life with me is, pure hell? I know I can be difficult. I’ve already said that, haven’t I? But pure hell? Surely I’m not as bad as all that.
I heard the key turn in the lock to my door. She came in and dropped the keys on the kitchen table. “I almost forgot,” she said, and walked out before I could say a thing.
I called to her as she was walking down the hall, to the elevator. “How many?” I pleaded. “How many times?”