It was a bad marriage and an acrimonious divorce. Any love I felt had died a death long before we reached the official end of the road. There were no children (by choice). So goodbye was really goodbye. We do not keep in touch. We have no mutual friends. People often ask and I say I think my ex still lives in this town, but don’t quote me on that. I know a few scraps about what he’s done since me – relationships, a child – but not from him and nothing concrete.
I do not miss him. If anything, I am profoundly thankful each and every day that his toxicity no longer affects my life, warping my personality into something unpleasant and unwelcome. I am sure he feels the same, and that does not disturb my sleep. I long ago came to terms with the fact that our versions of a decade’s shared history barely resemble each other. That is why we are no longer a couple.
I sometimes think I see him on the street, and my stomach flips. Not romantically. More in fear. As if, somehow, he could still hurt me. I know it’s impossible but I can’t seem to convince my amygdala of that fact. And all too often I spy a person, place, or thing and find myself wondering what he would think about it – to be fair, I’m usually wondering what crass or curt comment he’d unleash.
What’s that all about I kept asking myself?
I get it now: he is the book I set down and then lost. His is the tale whose ending I will never know, despite being thoroughly, intimately enmeshed with its protagonist.
This has nothing to do with love – and everything to do with the writer’s insatiable curiosity about characters and their stories. Though I want to, more than anything, I can’t stop scripting scenes in my head for this man because I knew him so well, even though to know him was, eventually, to despise him.
Perhaps this is the definition of “perverse curiosity.”