Winning the Break-Up (Late Winter of 2016)

You know that period in Breaking Bad, after Jesse had just killed Gale Boetticher, and he just spirals after that? Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the award-winning drama, a quick trip to the fan Facebook groups will reveal that the majority of Walter White fans are not experts on trauma.

“Jesse’s a pussy, he killed like one guy and then just loses his shit, what the hell?”

Walt’s sitting there having an ego trip and Jesse’s filling his life with meaningless chaos to down out how broken he was, and the fucked up things he had to do to survive.

‘We’re all on the same page, the one that says, if I can’t kill you, you’ll sure as shit wish you were dead.’ -Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad.

Did I wish I was dead? You know what, probably. But I wasn’t suicidal. It was more like I wish I had died before that awful nightmare of a day– and didn’t have to question which of my friends were real, and which weren’t.

But I’d won, right? It was now time to do everything that I couldn’t do outside of April. My list of high-flying goals were as follows:

Decide which restaurant in which I wished to dine and… wait for it… Go there.

And if I want to spend all day in Gallery Espresso, I just… do so. I could sit for hours, just drinking tea and writing.

And if there were distant friends I wanted to get to know better, I could do so without sneaking around. And gods, there was a menagerie of friends April had kept me from! I was only lucky that I was permitted to have Cotton, but there’s a whole herd of goth queers that April had been offended by in some way. Hell, I could be openly polyamorous! I could sample each fruit as if the town were a tray.

I could also be openly non-binary without April getting pissy that I was taking away her gay card. Even consider breast-reduction or top surgery without her bemoaning what she’d be losing. I could actually use my pronouns outside of my tiny group, without her bitching about that “Half and half shit.”

They/Them. My pronouns are They/them and it/ its. I am polyamorous. Oooh, it gave me a tingle to say!

So, why did I so often feel as though my life were already over?

Well, part of it was that I had missed out on so much. A lot of the friends that I had been barred from knowing were a year older than April, and therefore would only have a few months to go before they would graduate from [University Undisclosed] and leave Savannah altogether. Avery was already on the other side of the country. And it was hard to deny that I was ageing out of it being acceptable to befriend college students. I was only 22 years of age, but most art students weren’t even old enough to drink.

I did decide to try. I invited Goth #1 (flashback to the “Prose and Cons” entry) and their roommate out to sit and chat at Gallery Espresso. Afterwards, Cotton and I were going to make good on our pact to go to a fancy restaurant and gripe like the old bitches we already were.

Upon entering this cafe with so much of my personal history, I gave my surroundings a cursory glance and saw the unmistakable pattern of long, copper hair and goth attire.

I steeled myself against any visible reaction.

It worked. I was able to walk through the cafe, eyes focused on the counter, determined to glide past what was once the centre of my life as if she were part of the wall. (Granted, it was what talking to her could feel like anyway.) I ordered my tea, retrieved it, then perched among the circle of chairs to wait for my– acquaintances? Friends? Persistent missed connections? I remember honestly nothing of the conversation. Nothing notable happened about it– I think one of them called me an Indigo Child, but I forget the context.

I sat near that fireplace in the back!

I checked my phone.

Brenda [REDACTED] posted to your wall.

Fuck.

April’s fucking mother. I’d forgotten I’d friended her on Facebook, to keep an eye on her for April’s sake.

I forget if I’ve mentioned before in this blog, but meeting April’s mother is an experience that explains a lot. I have only distant memories of April’s and Brenda’s physical fights and Neb being called to the rescue. When I myself met Brenda, I watched how this middle-aged woman quickly shifted between playfully edgy and kittenish, speaking in baby talk to–… herself? Then irrationally yelling about whatever had pissed her off the moment before. If she lost an argument, she ominously alluded to the fact that she had heart problems.

The apple does not fall far from the tree.

So I was horrified at what this woman had to say about me, in public, where everyone could read it. I opened my timeline, stomach dropping, and–

“This post is no longer available.”

I stared. This bitch had blocked me and effectively erased her own post she probably hoped to devastate me. Again, apple– meet tree. My two friends had left, then I was left in the space between April and I that I wished were filled with lead.

Or maybe the River Styx.

I busied myself with scrolling through my phone, contemplating fishing the novel I was reading out of my bag. I didn’t have to suffer in a room with April for long, though. It was only a few minutes when she began to shove her art supplies into her satchel and stalk out. But not before stopping by me and depositing a small, black notebook into my lap.

I went numb.

I refused to open it. I kept imagining that if I would, I would see graphic descriptions of how Prosper killed himself. Or how JaK murdered Sound and their children, Hercules style. Maybe even illustrations about how everyone I knew was dead– something that may even come true in my inworld, if I let it.

I didn’t know exactly how April had her fingers in my subconscious, but I wasn’t going to take any chances that by a stroke of her pen, I could return to my inworld to some more tragic drama.

Someone else texted me about how April was vaguebooking me from across the room. I didn’t ask them to extrapolate. “Ha, she vaguebooked first.” I would later boast in my journal. “I’ve won the break-up.”

Cotton and I met at Circa 1875, a French restaurant in downtown. I forget which one of us decided on that restaurant, but it was precisely what I needed. The entire atmosphere was vintage, opulent, and gilded. God damn me for never having gone here beforehand.

Good ol’ 2016 iPhone quality.

“So, I was at Gallery before this and [April] dropped a notebook in my lap. I haven’t opened it. I’m too afraid to. I’m afraid it’s going to be something like ‘Here’s how all of your friends are dead, look, I drew it, put it on the fridge.’ Can you just… scan through it and make sure nothing I need to know is in there?”

Cotton nodded. He was flipping through it– I could tell just by looking that there were at least no illustrations. “Jesus. She wrote you a novel.

I elevated my eyebrows. “Did you know that after Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis was made public, Bosie copied him and wrote a ‘I know you are but what am I?’ memoir as basically a reply? And Oscar was already dead at the time?” I’d ordered a French 75– appropriate for the atmosphere. I kept gulping as if it were water.

There were a few times in my life wherein I had to admit to myself that I was probably close to being an alcoholic. We were coming up on one of those times.

“So, what, is everyone dead and it’s all my fault?”

Cotton glanced up at me with a look that said he was worried about how casually I said that. “No, no, it’s nothing like that. It’s an apology– kind of. Like the ones actors make when they realise there’s no way they’re not getting cancelled. You can read it now, if you want.”

I shook my head. “I can’t let her have the last word, Cotton. Otherwise, she’d win.” I’d meant that as a joke, but that was answered with another question about how much progress I’d made on finding a therapist.

The conversation soon turned to light banter about how Cotton was going to be forced to take both of us to see ‘Deadpool’ separate times.

But I just matched with this cutie on Tinder. How could I just abandon my beaux?

Between the numerous drinks, escargot, steak, and creme brulee, we ran up a bill on the far side of $300.

It may not be therapy, but it’s called self-care, sweetie. Who cares that I couldn’t afford to eat anything but eggs for a solid two weeks after that? It’s called priorities.

I went home and threw the notebook behind my telly stand, where it would remain, gathering dust, until three years later when I trusted Ash and Arkady with it.

I also tried to get right back into the dating scene. Kaspar and I were officially unofficial, but I didn’t want to have them as my only pillar when they had at least two other partners at the time. I downloaded Tinder and dove headfirst into distraction.

I still remember my very first Tinder date. Their name was Micah. One of their Tinder pics had them all done up with goth make-up and such, so I figured it was a fair place to start. I suggested that we have dinner at Fire. Despite being “Fired” (heh), that restaurant had such a variety of foods that it was one of my go-tos for people who didn’t know what they wanted. And I just remember being so… bored.

That wasn’t even a jab at Micah. They were perfectly pleasant, but so many years being isolated from anything other than melodramatic vampires and gods, a college student prattling on about how ‘animation just gets a bad rap’– I wasn’t ready and it likely showed. We didn’t even text each other back after that.

That was the date that I had sober. I had another one that I had otherwise. I forget where we even started, but this woman named Kristina and I ended up at Chive and having cocktail after cocktail. At one point, I’d left for the loo and come back to her offering me a shot of Greygoose. It was so good of her to order it for me– on my tab, but I suppose it was the thought that counted.

Afterwards, we snuck onto a rooftop, where I had my first ever ‘random hook-up.’ It was a good experience, overall. We were both satisfied and we slowly drifted out of each other’s lives afterwards, which was ideal. That’s what tends to happen with two Scorpios.

More than that, I was loving just being alone. I had one night in late January, where it was just warm enough to perch on the roof of the Bohemian hotel and enjoy the fire pit. I remember the feeling of numb contentment that washed over me as I sipped my Bellini. The stars sparkled through the blessedly cool atmosphere and I had a sudden realisation how large the world was, how much I haven’t been able to explore.

I remember feeling true bliss, in that moment.

A picture from the same day.

I think it was perhaps mid-February when a post April had made had gotten back to me. I didn’t like it when this happened– I hated it when my stomach dropped and that cold feeling rushed through my skin. But the friend insisted that it was imperative. “I think you should see this.”

I remember it was a Tumblr post, though I didn’t have access to April’s Tumblr at this time. It was story that was TW’d with ‘Abuse.’

I blinked. Is this a confession? Some sort of public self-flagellation to save face?

Then I read it.

(TW: Below is a graphic description of sex and a brief but fabricated description of sexual assault. This also has a classic Avery suicide rant in it, so along with the obvious suicide warning, it also has a rant known to cause dysmorphia and dysphoria if you’re not guarded against it. Read at your own risk.)

The story was about how her ‘abuser’ knew that she had endometriosis yet insisted on fingering her. It detailed how she was too scared of ‘her abuser’ to say no, how she ended up kicking the closet door to show she was in pain but her abuser was ‘drunk at the time and didn’t notice.’

I read that about three times before I realised that she was trying to refer to me. It honestly didn’t stick because she kept she-ing me the entire post and also, nothing remotely like that had ever happened.

In the first year of our dating, we were still experimenting with what we liked and what we didn’t. Unless you counted April’s relationship with fabricated emo boy #17 named fucking Ryuuga, we were each other’s first consensually sexual relationship, so we had an awkward trial and error period. In the short span of time where April actually liked being touched in bed, I’d tried one finger– that actually worked out.

I tried two fingers, once– with both warning and permission when we were having sex in the shower and she nearly fainted. So, that was unanimously regarded as a move that wasn’t to be repeated.

That was the extent of my topping in our relationship, and that had been done in 2013. After that, she decided that she would be the only one giving… to use the word quite generously. Also, I was sober for most of that year. I wasn’t even 21 yet.

One detail that stood out to me was ‘the closet door.’

Not April’s dorm, but one from the same building with a similar layout.

April didn’t have a closet door until she moved into that apartment with Cotton, just the summer prior. The picture above was the standard set-up of April’s sort of dorm.

So, was she saying that this happened at her apartment?

We’d actually only had sex once at that place. In fact, we didn’t even finish because–

Because Avery called me. And April saw that.

[FLASHBACK]

It was September 11th, a day that had never seen so tragic a spectacle as April pretending she was good at topping. It was also Avery’s birthday.

It wasn’t quite a celebratory occasion. Not only was Avery across the country by now, but in our last phone call, they had told me, “On my 22nd birthday, I am killing myself. I can literally feel my feminine fat jiggling with every step I take and it makes me want to die!” Which was a pretty far-cry from when they had told me, months before, that they’d never kill themself as long as I still cared.

That should have set the tone for the rest of Avery’s and my relationship, but in matters of romance, I’m remarkably dim. The conversation ended on a sour note, I remember. Probably with the usual ‘Here’s an idea, there might be options other than killing yourself?’ ‘You’re invalidating me and you’re not going to stop me!’

So, when my phone rang mid-sex on September 11th, I was drunk, and in my familiar position on my back. I was dreading this day and somehow decided that getting drunk and painfully fucked was the only way to cope. I saw Avery’s name on my phone screen and quickly excused myself to the bathroom. Avery was angry and venting, telling me about how their roommate interrupted their suicide attempt and was freaked out enough to ‘throw them out for no reason.’

I stayed on the phone with them for a long while. When I returned, April was pointedly ignoring me and drawing on her tablet. I gathered my clothes and left before my 10pm curfew.

[END OF FLASHBACK]

I read that post again and again, feeling bile rise in my throat. This was payback for me having interrupting her fucking me to talk to my friend. Granted, it was the friend I had cheated on her with but– Goddamn.

April, telling her horrific story of abuse.

That Amy Dunn-ass bitch.

And just as my loyal inworld is designed to do, Aberle showed up when I was mid-breakdown.

We played Mirror’s Edge together. I’d only finished Bioshock weeks before and I complained to him as we parkour’d our way through eerily white government headquarters. “I don’t even know how I can address it. Or if I should,” I told him. “I’d hit the story with sheer facts, but I always end up coming off as an arrogant know-it-all. I guess I could try playing the victim and see where that gets me–”

“Zeity, you’re literally the victim here,” Aberle reminded me with a laugh. “Play the victim, you’ve earned it.” He scooped up my newer rat, Sherlock, as he ran by his chair.

I frowned. Sherlock and his brother, Moriarty, seemed skittish around me but had already accepted Aberle as a friend. Maybe they were just like me–suspicious of everyone who tried to love them. “I hate how it’s fucking me up, too. I feel like I just dumped someone because they gave me herpes but I find out months later that they actually gave me syphilis and it’s gotten to my brain and doctors don’t even know if I’ll recover. I feel too fucked up to recover.”

Sherlock ran up Aberle’s sleeve. “Depends on how you view recovery. You’re fucked up. I’m fucked up. We’re all fucked up.” I felt myself smiling. I always loved how his German accent said ‘fuck.’ “But we’re not to live unbroken. Geboren um zu Leben.”

We’re born to be alive.

I beat Mirror’s Edge that night. The ending song was so inspiring that Aberle and I drunkenly sang the chorus from the rooftop, holding hands in the same defiant ecstasy of surviving even though the world clearly didn’t want us to.

“Still alive. I’m still alive, I can’t apologise.”