“I hate endings,” he says as the credits roll. “I have never seen a movie ending that isn’t completely improbable. They’re all absurdly satisfying. That isn’t real life. In real life, nothing ends well, if it ends at all.”
Trevor is looking out the window as he says this, his eyes on a man struggling with a bicycle lock. I have been sitting on his bed for the last two hours, wearing those purple gym shorts that make my legs look so much longer than they actually are and those striped knee socks that he likes, and, during this time period, Trevor’s eyes have been on the movie, his phone, a box of Dots, his phone again, and now that man outside who cannot open the lock. I wonder if it is even his bicycle. I wonder if this is an ending.
I can remember the beginning. We had met in a Danish beer bar not far from Trevor’s apartment, made the requisite jokes about online dating, expressed an appropriate amount of relief that we each resembled our respective profile picture, and shared a bowl of pretzels. After discovering a mutual love of dark beer and pre-2011 Arctic Monkeys, we began to walk to a tapas place that a coworker had recommended, but then it started raining—pouring, really, an enthusiastic downpour that plastered our clothing to our skin and formed spontaneous sidewalk rivers in which cigarette butts floated like canoes—and we had ended up back at his apartment, where we ate leftover pizza and gummy bears and drank a bottle of warm white wine so cheap that it made my teeth hurt. In the morning, I had seen the notches in the bedpost. He had laughed, his cheeks flushing endearingly, and grabbed a pocketknife.
Had it felt like a beginning? I’m not sure that it did. It had felt like a lark, like something that someone more fun than I might do. But it had been a beginning, or at least a beginning of sorts. There had been more cheap wine and our hands had met inside bowls of pretzels again and we had finally made it to that tapas place, which wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, and there had also been movies and brunch and a Sunday afternoon at Coney Island, and now this felt like a middle. But maybe last week had been the middle, last week when I had discovered two new jagged notches above mine on the bedpost. I adorned my notch with purple glitter nail polish, telling him it was so he would remember.
I was different from the other girls. I had been laughing and he had been laughing, but I had not been joking.
And now there is another, a deep gouge thick with mint-colored varnish, and Trevor is still looking at the man on the sidewalk who continues to struggle with the bicycle and the lock.
I run my fingers over the new notch, slide a fingernail underneath the paint, pick a little. Trevor does not look at me. I chip off a little more paint and tell him softly, “I hate endings, too.”
About the Author: K. Barber is a compulsive writer, incurable wanderer, and soap opera junkie.
Story Song: “Knee Socks” by the Arctic Monkeys
Photo Credit: Leesa Cross-Smith