The Man That Got Away

Dear —

While searching for a friend of mine on Facebook, your name popped up. My browser still knows how many times I’ve opened your profile. And like an addict, I clicked your name just to see how you’re doing. Wow. Your picture is wearing that checkered shirt I got you for our first Christmas, tucked out of your blue jeans, with two buttons undone, raising a glass of beer and shouting.

You’re still single but a couple of your friends are posting innuendos on your timeline. I know the type, black hair cut short, loves tilting the head slightly to the right, and knows the right balance between sexy and slutty. I know your type, because I was your type and years ago I was the only one posting on your wall.

I wasn’t able to stay long on your profile; Johnny’s arriving from school in half an hour. Bob picked him up, and I have to cook dinner. I logged out of my browser and started to prepare chicken parmesan. It was your mother’s recipe. She passed it on to me so that her baby boy would still be able to eat his favorite dish.

As I’m chopping the parsley, I could still see your silhouette on your favorite dining room chair. You are stretching your neck from the day’s tension. You’re talking about work, I am half-listening, the other half focused on the boiling water. Then when you have fully lost my attention, I’d be surprised when you are standing right behind me, holding me by the waist, your hand on my wirst as we dice onions.

Bob is a wonderful guy; he is, and he loves me. And I do love him too. He’s sensitive, he’s patient, he’s warm; he’s everything you weren’t. But he’s not a romantic. He doesn’t sweep me off my feet; he doesn’t make love to me until sunrise. He always has to wake up early, he’s always busy. He kisses me more on the cheek these days. Thank god he gave me Johnny.

Whatever happened to the life we talked about as we sat with warm cups of cocoa across the living room, while muted NBA reruns play on the television? Returning your ring was more painful than giving childbirth. It was in that symbolic return of infinity that our walls crashed down, and I was staring right into your eyes, the eyes of my fiance, the eyes of my ex.

When you walked out the door, I carried on. Nice and easy, my week back to work. I poured myself my own pot of coffee and I’d sip it, staring at the rain. It wasn’t until I walked to the spare room in the house, that I realized our future is echoed inside this room. What happened to our little Brian and Melissa; we’ve already discussed where we want them to go to college.

I’m happy now. The door will open any minute and my husband and son would come bounding in. They’d surround me with their stories and I’d sit in the middle of them as we eat dinner. We’d watch a short family movie, as I cuddle deep into Bob, while Johnny yawns at the talk-y scenes. But when I see your face again, I would snuggle a little bit tighter into Bob. Yes, to this day, I always ask what could have been. Your unshave face, your loud guitar jams, your generous application of body spray. I miss that. I miss you.

But seeing both of them around me, I never regret it.


This is the 100 Songs Project, a 100-day writing challenge based on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs. Every day, I write a short poem, prose piece, or play based on, reacting to, rejecting, accepting, or doing something related to one of the songs in the top 100 list.

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