Flash Fiction

Before the Break(up)


“I’m just tired of living like a fucking nomad.”

I stopped trying to shove yesterday’s jeans into my work purse and exhaled frustration. He had lent me sweatpants again; because I had slept over again, because we saw each other post 9pm again, because it was the only time we could get together and I felt guilty if I only stayed an hour. Again.

“You can keep some stuff here, you know” he said, in the same way he always did.

“I know. But then I wouldn’t have it at home. I just hate carrying everything back and forth all the time, it drives me nuts.”

I just want to go home, hang up my sweater where it won’t get wrinkled, put my underwear in the laundry where it will stay and not revisit the same bra again six hours after I take it off. I just want to go home.

“I mean you could get something to keep here, so you don’t have to take it with you all the time”. I realized with a stab of anger that he thought he was being helpful. As if I hadn’t already thought of everything myself.

“What, am I gonna have two of everything? I can barely afford one!” I joked.  I hoped it sounded less petulant than it felt.

He paused while he was tying his shoes to look up at me standing with my hands on my hips, staring malevolently at the dirty pants sticking halfway out of the too-small bag.

“It’s not that unreasonable” he said gently. “I could get you a toothbrush.”

He was so nice. Somehow it felt like it was a lie, a ruse, and I could feel myself getting angrier. Becoming an asshole. I don’t need you to be nice about this.

“It’s not just the toothbrush, ok? It’s everything. It’s shampoo, and conditioner, and soap, and being able to my put my shit away where it goes and doing my hair and putting on makeup in the morning and having to go all the way back home just to change for the next day and doing it all before 7am and never getting enough sleep- I just- I’m just too tired for this!”

I could feel the pinprick of tears starting at the back of my eyes and sniffed quickly. If I cried he would either get angry or come comfort me; then we’d never get out of here.

I just want to go home.

I finished stuffing my pants in hurriedly, and began aggressively gathering my hair out of my face and into a ponytail. It was dirty and it smelled like his bed and I wanted it gone.

He stood up solemnly, sighing.

“I’m sorry. I know you come here all the time, and we both have work. I wish I could see you earlier, but I gotta- “

“You gotta work when you gotta work. I know.”

I did go to his place all the time. Always. It was far and I hated it, but I had also offered, because it was better than mine. But now it was normal, it was how he liked it. I showed up, he enjoyed me, I left. Being next to him, awake and asleep, eating and drinking, always talking- it was half a relief, half a chore.

I just want to go home.

There it started, at the top of my head, and sunk down slowly into the pit of my stomach; a sickly full feeling, like a ball of lead.

This is wrong.

It wasn’t normal. It wasn’t just frustration. It wasn’t just today.

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“What?” he said warily, peering down into my eyes.

I screwed them shut as tears sprang up again.

“I’m just tired of living like a fucking nomad.”


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