Post-Love

Jacob Dimpsey

 

 

Post-Love

Jacob Dimpsey

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This is your society. Now you don’t have boyfriends or girlfriends, and you don’t get married. You cohabitate. You don’t say, “I love you,” as if to reassure your partner that nothing has changed since the last time you said it. You don’t have to say anything. You cook for each other and drive each other places and fuck each other because you like the feeling of it—of not being alone.

One day, she leaves you. “Life with you,” she says, “isn’t as exciting as it used to be.” She’s ready to move on. You’re surprised at first because you’ve become accustomed to life with her. But you quickly realize that you’re ready to move on as well. And you do. You are ready to seek new experiences, learn new things, and meet new people—all this unimpeded by a broken heart.

You take time to focus on yourself. You visit your family. You were never close to your parents—basic maternal and paternal instincts only allowed for a certain level of intimacy. But that made it easier to leave the house and begin your adult life when you graduated secondary school. You rediscover books you bought when you were younger while rummaging through boxes in their attic. You travel. You spend time overseas. You come back.

Eventually, you meet someone new. You’re on the shore, reading in a folding chair, when you see her. She’s walking along the edge of the water, barefoot, wearing a cover dress over a bikini. The green hem waves gracefully behind her. You’re instantly taken.

You abandon your book and your chair, and you walk up to her. She smiles. You smile back.

“I love the openness,” you tell her. “Don’t you?”

She looks at you for a moment.

“What a strange thing to say.”

“What?” you ask.

“Love,” she replies.

You apologize for using an antiquated verb, explaining that you appreciate classic literature. But you want to amend yourself, so you say, “I meant the sensory perception of the ocean air stimulates a pleasure response in my brain.”

You both laugh. It’s not long before you are cohabitating again. Her name is Sharon. She lives on the beach. You’ve always wanted to live closer to the ocean, but it’s risky real estate. You like that Sharon’s not afraid to lose everything. You tell her this as you’re moving in the things you haven’t put into storage. She gives you a cheeky grin that you know you’ll remember, and she replies, “I suppose it’s because I love it here.”

It becomes your back and forth. You and Sharon use antiquated language like a game, trying to one-up each other.

“I love the ocean,” you’ll say almost every time you see it because living on the beach is still new and exciting.

“I love this show,” she’ll say.

“I love this band.”

“I love this photo.”

“I love this restaurant.”

When you move on and cohabitate with someone new a year later, you find that, more than anything else, you miss the beach. You miss reading in your folding chair while the tide comes in and the ocean surf froths at your feet. You miss leaving the sliding bedroom door open at night and falling asleep to the sound of waves rolling into the shore. You miss watching the sun slowly materialize over the water, taking in the haze of the pink horizon with breakfast and, when she was awake early enough, with Sharon. Sometimes you miss that time Sharon took the game too far one morning on the patio. You took a long drink of your coffee, pretending not to hear her, and she never said it again.

“Post-Love” appears in Flock 21: Vanishing Point.

This is your society. Now you don’t have boyfriends or girlfriends, and you don’t get married. You cohabitate. You don’t say, “I love you,” as if to reassure your partner that nothing has changed since the last time you said it. You don’t have to say anything. You cook for each other and drive each other places and fuck each other because you like the feeling of it—of not being alone.

One day, she leaves you. “Life with you,” she says, “isn’t as exciting as it used to be.” She’s ready to move on. You’re surprised at first because you’ve become accustomed to life with her. But you quickly realize that you’re ready to move on as well. And you do. You are ready to seek new experiences, learn new things, and meet new people—all this unimpeded by a broken heart.

You take time to focus on yourself. You visit your family. You were never close to your parents—basic maternal and paternal instincts only allowed for a certain level of intimacy. But that made it easier to leave the house and begin your adult life when you graduated secondary school. You rediscover books you bought when you were younger while rummaging through boxes in their attic. You travel. You spend time overseas. You come back.

Eventually, you meet someone new. You’re on the shore, reading in a folding chair, when you see her. She’s walking along the edge of the water, barefoot, wearing a cover dress over a bikini. The green hem waves gracefully behind her. You’re instantly taken.

You abandon your book and your chair, and you walk up to her. She smiles. You smile back.

“I love the openness,” you tell her. “Don’t you?”

She looks at you for a moment.

“What a strange thing to say.”

“What?” you ask.

“Love,” she replies.

You apologize for using an antiquated verb, explaining that you appreciate classic literature. But you want to amend yourself, so you say, “I meant the sensory perception of the ocean air stimulates a pleasure response in my brain.”

You both laugh. It’s not long before you are cohabitating again. Her name is Sharon. She lives on the beach. You’ve always wanted to live closer to the ocean, but it’s risky real estate. You like that Sharon’s not afraid to lose everything. You tell her this as you’re moving in the things you haven’t put into storage. She gives you a cheeky grin that you know you’ll remember, and she replies, “I suppose it’s because I love it here.”

It becomes your back and forth. You and Sharon use antiquated language like a game, trying to one-up each other.

“I love the ocean,” you’ll say almost every time you see it because living on the beach is still new and exciting.

“I love this show,” she’ll say.

“I love this band.”

“I love this photo.”

“I love this restaurant.”

When you move on and cohabitate with someone new a year later, you find that, more than anything else, you miss the beach. You miss reading in your folding chair while the tide comes in and the ocean surf froths at your feet. You miss leaving the sliding bedroom door open at night and falling asleep to the sound of waves rolling into the shore. You miss watching the sun slowly materialize over the water, taking in the haze of the pink horizon with breakfast and, when she was awake early enough, with Sharon. Sometimes you miss that time Sharon took the game too far one morning on the patio. You took a long drink of your coffee, pretending not to hear her, and she never said it again.

“Post-Love” appears in Flock 21: Vanishing Point.

Jacob Dimpsey is a Creative Writing student at Susquehanna University. He lives in a small town in rural Pennsylvania where he spends his time being much more concerned about the way things could be rather than the way things actually are. This is his first major publication.