You look at the Blackberry Samantha threw into your hands after explaining the rules. “If you forget what you can and can’t do, the rules are in the phone,” you remember Samantha saying as she left your apartment.
Samantha didn’t tell you much about the how, just what she needed to break up your relationship. You look in the Blackberry for the details and you find her to-do list.
$10 – various office supplies (envelopes, printer paper)
$250 – dinner
$300 – drinks
$2000 – rent tattoo parlor for two hours
$250 – tip for tattoo artist
$300 – laser tattoo removal (one treatment – parlor agreed to use easily removable ink for forearm tattoo)
$1890 – picking up the pieces
You remember what you gave up to get that money, leaving furniture and electronics across six pawn shops not to cause suspension, selling plasma and sperm, a paycheck loan. You wonder if it would have been easier to tell the truth, at least cheaper. You ask yourself what Samantha means by “picking up the pieces.”
Three days and the phone hasn’t rang. You check Craigslist to make sure the ad is up. You check the phone to see if it is turned on, charged. You want to get this over with so you can move on. You were with Suzanne for seven years. Your sides, hips, lower back itch and ache. You ignore it.
On the sixth day, the Blackberry plays an orchestral version of “Highway to Hell.” The e-mail says “Nicole 301-513-1303.” You take a deep breath then call her. “I understand you need a mistake prevented,” you say. Nicole pauses for a moment then explains she is one month pregnant and does not want the child. Nicole says her fiance, Alex, wants her to keep it, raise it together like a family. She is not ready for a family, does not want a reminder of her poor choices looking at her everyday, does not want to be with fiance. She says she’s not ready for forever. You ask what is Alex’s favorite restaurant: a chain Tex-Mex place. You tell Nicole you will call her back in 24 hours with what to do next. You explain that you cannot tell her everything that will happen, that staying in the dark will ensure she is just as surprised as Alex and that once it is done, it will be her turn to do what you are doing for someone else. Nicole tells you she understands. You hang up the phone.
You call Nicole the next day. You tell Nicole to take Alex to his favorite Tex-Mex place tomorrow. You instruct her to blindfold Alex and to take off the blindfold once they arrive in the large room used for parties in the Tex-Mex place at 6pm. You say you will make sure everything is taken care of. Nicole asks you what you have planned and you remind her you can’t tell her. Nicole sighs and hangs up.
The day of the plan, you walk in with the decorations boxed so none of the staff could see. You ask the manager if you can close off the room as you decorate and he agrees. The staff tries to peek into the room but you cover the glass panes with black construction paper. You look at the phone: “4:45pm”. You only have an hour or so to finish or look like you are mostly finished with the decorations.
You hear a knock on the door. You peel a piece of the construction paper slightly and see Nicole leading a blindfolded Alex. You open the door quietly. Nicole takes the blindfold off of Alex. The first thing he sees is a banner in large, bold letters “CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ABORTION”. There are mobiles of half-formed fetuses hanging from the ceiling. You see the look of terror on Nicole, the panic in Alex’s eyes.
“Did…did you….” You see Alex can’t put together the words. You look over at Nicole and she nods. Alex drops to his knees, wearing his hands like black veil. You see Nicole walks away without a word.
One week later, you hand the Blackberry to Nicole. You explain to Nicole how everything works, remind her the rules are in the phone. You hand her the phone and walk out of her apartment.
You drink later that night, use the half-filled glass of Jack and Coke as a mirror. You wonder how Suzanne took the news, what bloomed from her cheeks, mouth. You finish the drink and ask the bartender for another.
You awake the next morning, your brain bleached, your right arm bandaged and sore. You peel back the gauze and tape and see this:
I hope you never get another chance to ask someone to spend forever with you.
You now understand what Samantha meant by picking up the pieces.