Friday, July 8, 2011

The Last Boyfriend

In my dream, I told him that he’d been replaced.

“Replaced?” He asked absently, keeping his eyes trained on the screen in front of him.

We sat together in the floor of his old apartment, the one with the dreadful orange carpet; he was playing video games, and I was watching, picking at an orange thread and wondering why I was here again. I remember thinking, wow, this is just like real life.

It was a very linear dream. My dreams about him usually were. In response to his question, I said, quite decidedly, “Yes. Replaced.”

“By whom?”

Whom. He’d always been able to remember the who/whom rule, just another infuriating thing about him: his impeccable grammar. I remember sighing in the dream. “Someone. Someone, I think, more special than even you.”

For the first time, he took his eyes off the pixelated characters on the television and looked at me. Mild interest danced in those wide, slightly misshapen orbs. I imagined that his voice took on a feral tone, when he asked, “Really?”

“Yes, really. Replaced completely. I’m fairly certain I’ll never think of you again.” My dream voice was lying, but I didn’t mind. In real life, he’d lied to me plenty, so I figured I owed him by some. With sick satisfaction, I watched his eyes narrow. “Tell me about him.”

He was a video story clerk, and I didn’t know his name. The extent of what I did know about him included the fact that he wore a lip ring and almost completely ignored me. I didn’t tell my last boyfriend any of this. Instead, I said, “his name is Taylor.”

“Taylor.” He tried the name out loud and grimaced at the sound of it, and I couldn’t blame him. It sounded completely fabricated, a soap opera pseudonym. I would have thought that in a dream I could have come up with a better name that Taylor. My last boyfriend said, “Sounds made up.”

“So do most names,” I retorted, “in certain contexts.” For example, in lies, especially dream lies.

He smiled then, a full-out crooked smile that showed that left front tooth he’d chipped on a beer bottle during a night of karaoke and carousing. “It’s made up. I can tell when you lie; your eyelashes flutter, and they’re fluttering now, baby.”

Baby, as if I were a hundred and forty pound toddler there for his amusement. In my dream, I suddenly realized that he had been replaced but not by what’s-his-name at the video store. No, indeed. My last boyfriend had been replaced by good common sense.

I was with this man, sitting on his ugly orange carpet, poised and ready to do his bidding always, because I actually believed he was the best that I could do, that he was perhaps the last boyfriend I would ever have. My last chance at marriage, procreation, and happiness.

I believed what many other women believed, and because I believed it, I had settled for him. I had allowed myself to be with someone I didn’t really like because I valued a relationship, even a bad one, over being alone.

A linear dream with an obvious message, how very neat and convenient of me.

I left my last boyfriend and his ugly orange carpet behind, in both my dream and in my reality. I dated the video store clerk for awhile, but he wasn’t my last boyfriend either, nor were the other two guys I dated seriously in my twenties.

My last boyfriend actually ended up being my husband, a man who...whom?...I never dreamed of leaving.

Author's Note: This is a work of fiction and a response to the Red Dress Club's Red Writing Hood prompt. This week's prompt was to step out of your comfort zone. I struggled A LOT with what my comfort zone is. I've written from both male and female perspectives, written historical and contemporary fiction, written horror, suspense, etc. I finally determined that my comfort zone is "weird." So this week I tried to write from a more "normal" perspective. A contemporary female's perspective about love. I don't typically write about love or relationships, so this was a challenge for me in a big way.

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