The Ex is leaving me. We’ve been together for years. It wasn’t me, it was the Ex. That’s what the Ex said. It wasn’t me. ‘We’re too young,’ the Ex said. And of course, that was it – too young. Yes, that’s right. Too young.
With tears in my eyes I get in the car, and the wheels take me away.
A week later I’m looking at the Ex on Facebook. We still talk. The Ex looks happy – free. Who’s this person with the Ex? Wasn’t this the one – no, the Ex said they were just friends.
Three months later, the Ex is with someone new. I’m not jealous though. I mean, we still send each other messages. And this new partner? Well my nose is better, I’m better looking. Yeah.
A few weeks later I break down on the way home from class. I feel so alone. Who are you to reject me? I pick myself up. I use that feeling for something good. I book myself into the gym and I improve. I improve everything.
Eight months later and I’m with the Ex. We’re catching up. We’ve both changed, but yet the old chemistry is still there. Are we still in love? The Ex smiles, nervous. I act.
Later that night we’re in bed once more. Reunited. Our hearts beat and bodies intertwine. Natural, connected. We never wear protection. I know every inch of the Ex, and the Ex knows every inch of me. We’ve never been apart. It seems like it was only yesterday. The Ex cries, says the feelings are still there. I listen, and I nod. And we make love again.
A year later we’re breaking up again. We’d given it another shot – but it all fell through. What would it have been like if we’d never spoken after the first break. Could we have healed on our own? I’m the one breaking it off this time – I’m older, and I can do better.
Two years later. A message here and there, but the Ex is largely out of my mind. My family never liked the Ex. My house is in order – I’m not the one who lost out here. I’m new and I’m improved. I’ve got a career. And I’m dating better. I’m past the ex. I’ve moved on. I’m over it.
Three months later we’re getting drinks. I figured why not – I mean I’m the catch now, not like before. And the Ex? Oh boy, does the Ex know it. Laughing at my jokes, eyes fixed on me. Just like I remember. Just like I wanted, back at the start.
Later that night we’re together again. The ex is enjoying me more than ever. I knew I was better. The Ex is enraptured by me. The Ex is mine. I feel so powerful.
Two months later and the Ex is one of the regulars. There whenever I want. I’m not attached, I’ve moved on. This is casual. The others are better looking. Everyone says to me, ‘how do you do it?’ I sleep best with the Ex. The heart beat is the same.
Three years later and I see on Facebook the Ex has met someone. I don’t care. Whatever. I’ve got plenty. And I’m too young to settle down. I know what makes me happy.
A year later the Ex is engaged. What kind of loser gets engaged after one year? I don’t even fucking care. I’m over it.
A week later I’m on the Ex’s Facebook profile. After I finish touching myself I burst into tears.
Two months later I receive a message from the Ex. It says we should catch up. I agree, we should catch up.
Later that night we’re in a bar laughing. We know just how to make each other laugh. We always know just how to make each other laugh. In the midst of things there’s a pause. We stare at one another as the laughter dies down. I rest my hand on the ex’s thigh.
In the morning the Ex is gone. I don’t know what I feel anymore.
Two weeks later the Ex is married. I tell myself it won’t last. Marriages never do these days. And that smile – that’s just for photos. The Ex always tries to tell me something in photos.
Two years later I see the Ex on the street. The Ex’s child walks alongside. I say nothing and step out of view.
Seven months later and I’m at a bar. I meet someone new. We’re laughing, touching.
Later that night we’re kissing. Hiding under a tree from the rain. The new person is just like them – the Ex. We jump in a cab and the wheels take us away.
Ten months later, I’m happy. The new person is amazing. Better than the Ex. What Ex? The Ex is out of my mind. I was over that years ago.
Two months later I’m seeing the Ex. We’re just catching up. My partner’s at home. I say I’m at work. No need to worry anybody. We’re just catching up. We’re just having fun. Our hearts are racing. I forgot what it feels like to have this much fun. Our hands slip together. Our fingers interlock. And we hold on for dear life.
In the morning we lie in each other’s arms. I check my phone. Where are you? Stayed at a friends be back soon. At the end I write, I love you. I run my hand across the Ex. Nobody’s skin feels like this. We’ve never felt this way about anyone, we say. We deserve to be happy, we say. We’ve always been in love.
Three years later and the Ex has finalised the divorce. I’m waiting in the car. I’m smiling, I’m happy. Somethings are just meant to be. The Ex gets in. We look into each other’s eyes and the wheels take us away.
Eight months later we’re getting married. We’ve both changed. The time apart has made us right for one another. My parents don’t understand. Nobody knows us like we do.
One year later and the Ex is out with some friends. We’re having some time apart – it’s good for relationships. We’re messaging. We’re grownups; we know what we’re doing. I party with my friends and have fun. I dance with someone new. It doesn’t mean anything. I check my phone – nothing new from the Ex. Doesn’t mean anything. I’m standing on my own. Someone new introduces themselves. They’re confident, forceful. I feel nervous. They take my hand – and hold it. I let them.
The next morning I’m leaving early. The person is lying there, sleeping. I pull my clothes on and leave.
Three months later we’re fighting. Past al the minutia is there any trust between us? Once the lust died away all I felt was resentment.
Two months later. I’ve been fucking someone for weeks. I know the Ex is too. I saw the messages. I checked the phone. Sure, they never confirmed it, but they told me enough. If the Ex can play around, I can play around.
Three weeks later, the other person comes home crying to the Ex. They’re both waiting for me when I get back. Fucking entrapment shit. The Ex sitting there with some smug ‘I caught you look.’ I tell the Ex I know about them too. The Ex looks me in the eye with some shocked look and spills out a lie.
One year later and we’re still not speaking. The Ex has stolen enough of my life. I’m free again. But this older world – with its weathered people. It’s not like it used to be. I’m afraid. I don’t want to be alone. But I’ll cope. I’ll manage. I’m not like the Ex.
Eleven months later I’ve got a child on the way. A child I don’t want, to someone I don’t love. I’m not a bad person. I deny paternity. I did fine with just one parent. These things happened. Life used to be better.
A few days later I’m lonely. I call the Ex. The Ex doesn’t answer.
A week later I find out through the grapevine the Ex was in an accident. Hospitalised. I drop everything and run. In the car I start crying. I don’t know what’s happening.
An hour later I’m sat with the Ex. Unconscious and alone, I’m all the Ex has. Don’t worry, I’m here with you. I told the nurses I’m family, that we’re partners. I know for us both, it’s still true.
Twenty minutes later the Ex’s family has arrived. As I’m being removed from the room I hear the Ex flat-line. Doctors rush into the room and my life stands still.
Two years later and I’m thinking about the Ex. Dead a few years now. I wasn’t welcome at the funeral. Someone’s coming round to see me. They’re nice, this new person. I’m ready to give it a chance. In my drawer I pull out a picture of the Ex, I wonder what may have been if we’d never stayed in touch. How much of my life did I unconsciously guide, because I couldn’t let go. How many choices did I force? Outside I hear the car pull up on the gravel. I check myself in the mirror. I’m not what I used to be. I greet my new person at the door. They smile with a quiet desperation. Nobody wants to be alone. We get in the car and I stare forward.
The engine starts and I let the wheels take us away.