Short Story: The Perilities of Love

The first entry of Life’s short story contest delves into the difficulties of finding lasting love

Isabella Mason, Staff Writer

 He is deep in rural Iowa, or Ohio — one of those stupid four-letter states. It doesn’t really matter which. There is snow coating the ground all around him, and as he leans down to put his cigarette out, the dart sizzles in the inches of white, dewy fluff.

She stopped loving him a long time ago. Last week, she left him a voicemail saying that they needed to talk, and he decided not to return the favor. “I just think this isn’t working, we need more communication,” he said. He blocked her on all platforms, disappearing into his one-bedroom apartment in his four-letter state, only exiting to stand on his patio and clutch his pack of Marlboro Red 100s in the freezing cold, his knuckles chapped and bleeding.

His apartment was barren, a poster here and there and his stupid, loveable cat cradled around his feet at all times. His cat had some weird name, she used to be his and another girl’s, but they needed more communication too. Sean would never entertain the thought that maybe he was part of the problem. Sean would never finish these things the way they deserved to be finished; he didn’t think his exes deserved that closure.

Sean wasn’t really sure what had happened between him and this girl. He still loved her, of course. He’d never stopped. But he was jaded at this point. It wasn’t the first time a girl had been crazy about him, said “I love you” two weeks into dating and then decided he was scraps for the wolves.

He decided there was no use in being bitter or even talking about it with her. He loved her, but not enough to “make it work” or make any effort to figure it out. It was useless.

Sean’s mom smoked. He was a momma’s boy, so he followed in her footsteps. That was all, though — he wasn’t an alcoholic like she had become. Sean had sworn off anything other than two beers a long time ago.

One time, Sean had gone to an aquarium with Rebecca — the most recent girl who’d just left a voicemail and decided that was good enough. Shedd Aquarium was in Chicago — they were visiting his mom for the last time in the summer.

Sean watched Rebecca’s eyes say “love” as she stared at the moon jellyfish, pupils dilated from lighting up before they both entered the science center. She loved jellyfish — loved how she could see right through them. The creatures would float in their tank, and she could stay there for hours watching them. Rebecca and jellyfish had something in common, which is that they were both brainless.

Sean watched Rebecca fall out of love as they ate lunch in the aquarium food court. He watched her sober up, watched the smile fading from her cheeks and then watched her tell him she thought he was getting fat.

What was the point? Sean had tried the whole relationship thing, and he was tired of it. “Maybe I should just grow a better beard and hibernate,” he thought to himself. He’d had enough coffee and Marlboro Reds to last him ‘til February, and he thought maybe it was a good idea.