by Jenna Coote
I am messaging my boss and he tells me that I'm killing it. He frequently lavishes me with compliments I don't deserve. I react to his comment with a heart. Microsoft Teams always makes me feel like I'm teetering on the edge of flirtation. I look out the window and see him, wrangling a dog, ear tilted, pressed against his phone. I imagine him doing important business things, dispensing advice, billing hourly, closing a deal, because when I was with him, he always made it clear that things like that came first. His cell would buzz and he'd hold one mighty finger up in the air, halting me. "I've gotta take this."
He weaves around the park entrance, pausing to let his dog observe two birds, leash pulled taut and I wonder how he manages to look so powerful when he's literally on a walk to scoop warm dog shit. He's dressed in expensive loungewear with logos that jump out in the distance. I watch as his figure grows smaller, already running through the list of people I can text. There aren't many and besides, it feels like a betrayal. I just want someone to listen to the one exciting thing in my life besides whether or not the baby likes peas.
There are days when my happiness astounds me, even if the living room is littered with toys, stickers like pimples on the furniture, the carpet gritty with goldfish crumbs. On weekends we attend children's birthday parties, and it feels like enough, drinking the can of Pearsecco my husband handed me while my daughter eyes the goodie bags.
The dog stops to sniff at the grass and he pauses too, switching hands. The last time we met, he asked if I was happy and I wondered if he cared or just wanted his guilt assuaged. Either way, the answer was yes. Yes, I am happy in this life without him.
I only see his legs now and I'm amazed they can still exist, like the past took a solid form, glue that has hardened. They are legs that will never touch mine, and they'll take him home, back to an apartment I'll never see with a dog whose name I don't know. I stare out the window until I can't see him anymore, and then, I text a friend.
About the Author
Jenna Coote is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been performed at Abingdon Theatre in New York City and published in Months To Years Literary Magazine. She has a BFA in drama from Syracuse University. You can find her on Instagram @jenna.c.coote