Read Why We Broke Up Online

Authors: Daniel Handler

Tags: #JUV000000

Why We Broke Up

 

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Table of Contents

Copyright Page

For Charlotte—why we got together

 

 

—D.H. + M.K
.

 

 

In a sec you’ll hear a thunk. At your front door, the one nobody uses. It’ll rattle the hinges a bit when it lands, because it’s so weighty and important, a little jangle along with the thunk, and Joan will look up from whatever she’s cooking. She will look down in her saucepan, worried that if she goes to see what it is it’ll boil over. I can see her frown in the reflection of the bubbly sauce or whatnot. But she’ll go, she’ll go and see. You won’t, Ed. You wouldn’t. You’re upstairs probably, sweaty and alone. You should be taking a shower, but you’re heartbroken on the bed, I hope, so it’s your sister, Joan, who will open the door even though the thunk’s for you. You won’t even know or hear what’s being dumped at your door. You won’t even know why it even happened.

It’s a beautiful day, sunny and whatnot. The sort of day when you think everything will be all right, etc. Not the right day for this, not for us, who went out when it rains, from October 5 until November 12. But it’s December now, and the sky is bright, and it’s clear to me. I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamn loved you so much.

The thunk is the box, Ed
. This is what I am leaving you. I found it down in the basement, just grabbed the box when all of our things were too much for my bed stand drawer. Plus I thought my mom would find some of the things, because she’s a snoop for my secrets. So it all went into the box and the box went into my closet with some shoes on top of it I never wear. Every last souvenir of the love we had, the prizes and the debris of this relationship, like the glitter in the gutter when the parade has passed, all the everything and whatnot kicked to the curb. I’m dumping the whole box back into your life, Ed, every item of you and me. I’m
dumping this box on your porch, Ed, but it is you, Ed, who is getting dumped.

The thunk, I admit it, will make me smile. A rare thing lately. Lately I’ve been like Aimeé Rondelé in
The Sky Cries Too
, a movie, French, you haven’t seen. She plays an assassin and dress designer, and she only smiles twice in the whole film. Once is when the kingpin who killed her father gets thrown off the building, which is not the time I’m thinking of. It’s the time at the end, when she finally has the envelope with the photographs and burns it unopened in the gorgeous ashtray and she knows it’s over and lights a cigarette and stands in that perfect green of a dress watching the blackbirds swarm and flurry around the church spire. I can see it. The world is right again, is the smile. I loved you and now here’s back your stuff, out of my life like you belong, is the smile. I know you can’t see it, not you, Ed, but maybe if I tell you the whole plot you’ll understand it this once, because even now I want you to see it. I don’t love you anymore, of course I don’t, but still there’s something I can show you. You know I want to be a director, but you could never truly see the movies in my head and that, Ed, is why we broke up.

I wrote my favorite quote
on the lid of this box, from Hawk Davies, who is a legend, and I’m writing this letter with the lid of this box as a desk so I can feel Hawk Davies flowing through every word I write to you. Al’s father’s shop’s truck rattles so sometimes the words are shaky, so that’s your tough luck as you read every word of this. I called Al this morning, and right away when I said, “Guess what?” he said, “You’re going to ask me to help you run an errand in my dad’s truck.”

“You’re good at guessing,” I said. “That’s very close.”

“Close?”

“OK, yes, that’s it.”

“OK, give me a sec to find my keys and I’ll pick you up.”

“They should be in your jacket, from last night.”

“You’re good too.”

“Don’t you want to know what the errand is?”

“You can tell me when I get there.”

“I want to tell you now.”

“It doesn’t matter, Min,” he said.

“Call me La Desperada,” I said.

“What?”

“I’m giving back Ed’s stuff.” I said it after a deep breath, and then I heard him take one, too.

“Finally.”

“Yeah. My end of the deal, right?”

“When you’re ready, yeah. So, you’re ready?”

Another one, deeper but shakier. “Yes.”

“Are you sad about it?”

“No.”

“Min.”

“OK, yes.”

“OK, I have my keys. Five minutes.”

“OK.”

“OK?”

“It’s just that I’m looking at the quote on the box. You know, Hawk Davies. You either have the feeling or you don’t.”

“Five minutes, Min.”

“Al, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have even—”

“Min, it’s OK.”

“You don’t have to. It’s just that the box is so heavy I don’t know—”

“It’s
OK
, Min. And of course I have to.”

“Why?”

He sighed through the phone and I kept staring at the top of the box. I’ll miss seeing the quote when I open my closet, but I will not, Ed, I don’t miss you. “Because, Min,” Al said, “the keys were right in my jacket, where you said they’d be.”

Al is a good, good person, Ed. It was Al’s party where you and I first met, not that he invited you because he had no opinion of you then and so didn’t invite you or any of your grunty jock crowd to his Bitter Sixteen party. I left school early to help him with the dandelion green pesto made with gorgonzola cheese instead of parmesan for extra bitterness that we served on top of the squid ink gnocchi from his dad’s shop and mix up the blood orange vinaigrette for the fruit salad and cook up that huge 89 percent cacao dark chocolate cake in the shape of a big black heart so bitter we couldn’t really eat it, but you just waltzed in uninvited with Trevor and Christian and all them to skulk in the corner and not touch anything except, like, nine bottles of Scarpia’s Bitter Black Ale. I was a good guest, Ed, and you didn’t even say “bitter birthday” to your host and give a present, and that is why we broke up.

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