Unbreak My Heart

By: Lauren Blakely

1





Andrew



When someone you love dies, there is a grace period during which you can get away with murder. Not literal murder, but pretty much anything else.

Forgot to turn something in? No problem. You have a hall pass.

Lawn unruly? Who cares? The neighbor will trim it, and with a smile.

Haven’t returned a call, text, or email in weeks? It’s all good.

Driving home while blasting music at window-rattling decibel levels and deciding to run into the silver Nissan that’s overhanging your driveway by just one or two inches?

That calls for evaluation. No one’s in it, the car is just parked on the side of the road. I have nothing against this car or against the car’s owner.

What I am is tired—tired of everyone being gone, and tired of everything being mine, and tired of life wringing every emotion from me for the last few years.

Besides, when making decisions, my brother always said, “At the end of my life, when I’m looking back, will I regret not doing this?” Fine, he was usually talking about traveling to Italy or going to the beach to surf, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to regret hitting this car for no reason whatsoever.

Wait. I don’t have no reason. I have every reason.

I bang into it one, two, three, four, five times, each hit rocking my head back and jump-starting me with paddles that shock my system.

Yes.

That’s better.

For a few seconds, I feel a spark inside me, like a match lit in a darkened cave. I try to capture it, to let that flicker ignite into a want or a desire.

But then the flame gutters out, and I’m back to the way I was before.

I shift into reverse, and something makes an annoying scratching sound against the road. I pull into my driveway, get out, then walk around to the front. The fender is dragging on the ground. Looks like the engine might be smoking.

“Whatever.”

I don’t feel like dealing, because dealing requires too much energy, and energy is what I lack. I grab the mail, head inside, and flop onto the couch.

My dog, Sandy, joins me, curling up with her head on my knee. As I rub Sandy’s ears, I wonder briefly if they will send me to anger-management class or something, but there’s no they to send me away. There’s no wife, since there’s no woman on the scene. Hell, there’s not even anyone to order me around at the law firm I’ve just inherited. Sure, there’s my cousin Kate, and while she’s not afraid to kick my butt from time to time, she has her own life. Besides, I’m twenty-five, and I need to take care of my own shit, especially since all the other theys are all gone. My brother, Ian, died four weeks ago, my parents passed away seven years ago, and my older sister, Laini, lives thirteen time zones away, which is too many miles to matter.

I put my arms behind my head. What else can I get away with? Is there an expiration date on the pity free pass?

I glance at the empty Three Martians pizza box on the coffee table and pull it toward me with my foot to see if there might still be a slice in it. Sandy watches my foot then the box.

“Sandy, did you finish the pizza?”

She says nothing, just tilts her sleek black head to the side.

“Well, can you call and order another one?”

She puts one of her white paws on my chest.

The phone rings.

“Maybe Three Martians can read our minds.” The guy who owns our favorite pizza place includes dog biscuits when I order.

I stretch out my arm to the coffee table, grab the phone, and answer. “I’ll take one cheese pie for delivery please, extra mushrooms, and a side of peanut butter dog biscuits.”

But it’s not Omar. It’s Mrs. Callahan from next door.

“Is everything all right?” she asks.

“Everything is fine.”

Fine is the ultimate non-committal adjective. If “fine” were a dude, he’d be a bachelor forever.

“Are you sure? Do you need anything?”

I flip through the mail: a hospital bill. Awesome. Those never stop coming. Ooh, another sympathy card. The envelope is light blue, because all sympathy cards must be delivered in the color of the sky. No need to open that. A postcard reminder about the luncheon that follows the dean’s reception later this week—a reception Ian had wanted to attend after my law school graduation ceremony that same day.

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