1. Do you remember how we met?
2. Why were you running?
3. Were you running away from something?
4. Were you running towards me?
5. Do you remember how we fell into each other, my body pressed between concrete and you?
6. Did you fall in love with me the moment I said, “Hello?”
7. Did you know I fell in love with you the moment you reached for me, laughed, and gave me five variations of “I’m sorry?”
8. How many hours did we spend in the park that day?
9. Do you remember catching your breath?
10. The conversations we shared?
11. Hailing me a cab?
12. Resisting the urge for us to collide again?
13. You told me to take care, be safe, before closing the door. Was I in danger?
14. When did you slip a note into my pocket?
15. Have time to write down your phone number?
16. “Nice meeting you.” Have you always been so polite?
17. Or were you trying to hide your inner child?
18. How many nights did we stay on the phone, talking about our lives? How you were almost expelled in the 8th grade for punching the boy who was bullying you in the face, but all you can remember was the sound of his nose breaking. The feeling of the initial snap beneath your knuckle. The warmth of someone else’s blood dripping down your fingers. I listened in silence until you called for me in the same voice I called for my mother when lost in the woods, nervous hands snapping branches in the dark, sap mixed with pine needles seeping between my clenched knuckles.
19. How many of your secrets were true?
20. How many were lies?
21. Where did we go on our first date? The thought of us coming together frightened me because you smelled so good. I smelled like the lavender scented baby powder clumping together like cotton balls in places concealing sweat stains that I planned to keep hidden until the third date. Your lips moved but nothing reached me except your offer to wander. Your hand, lines with fading beginnings and endings carved into your palm, stretched in the space between us.
22. Where did we go on our last? Your lips remained shut and you seemed wary of my presence, happy to wander on your own in the direction of our beginning that, I should have known, was fading into an ending.
23. How many dates separate the two?
24. When did you decide we were over?
25. Why won’t you return my calls?
26. Does she, the woman with the pixie cut who loves black and white polka dots, love you like I did?
27. Like I still do?
28. Have you told her you like to linger near gas stations to get high off gasoline?
29. That you once set your uncle on fire because you woke up in the night with his hand beneath the fabric of your underwear?
30. That you spent time in juvi because your mother didn’t believe you?
31. That you lied to your therapist because she said everything would be okay 20 different times in 20 different ways, and things only got worse?
32. Did you tell her you found your uncle’s body swinging in the attic of your childhood home?
33. That you carried this secret for three days, and, when the body started to smell, you didn’t tell anyone?
34. Does the sound of your mother’s screams still wake you up at night?
35. Does your polka pixie let you suck on her tits while she rubs your back to comfort you?
36. Have you revealed whether these are true or false? Or do you find comfort hiding under the bed you share with her? The floor reminding you that you’re still here, survived, while the body of your uncle dangled from a beam in the house your mother filled with despair while you watched, holding yourself, wondering if she would believed you now.
37. How long are you going to pretend not to notice me?
38. Can you feel me when you’re with her?
39. Do you appreciate how I wait for you?
40. Do you wonder if I’ll ever forgive you?
41. Do you fuck her or make love to her?
42. How is she better than me?
43. Why do you turn off the lights?
44. Why do you leave the window to your bedroom open?
45. Is this you inviting me in, to join the two of you?
46. Have you told her you don’t believe in marriage?
47. That, when I tried to talk to you about forever, you turned away from me and snored? I like to think you were dreaming of me, of us. Then, I would roll away from you, afraid that the thought of us was the cause of your exhaustion.
48. Have you told her that when you two fought over the seating arrangements for your wedding, you found your way back to me?
49. Were you surprised to find me waiting for you in the park where we first met?
50. Did you forget about her as you entered me from behind, my nails digging into the bark of the tree we used to picnic under?
51. Or when you came into my apartment and had me again, leaving the lights on and the window closed?
52. Why didn’t you say goodbye?
53. What did she say when you appeared on her doorstep, satisfied and smelling of me?
54. When did you decide to go through with the wedding?
55. Are you going to avoid me, pretend I don’t exist, now that she can see me among your wedding guests whose names you don’t remember?
56. How will you describe me when she asks who I am? I am the woman wearing your favorite black and purple dress. The woman who prefers to dance without shoes in order to feel the vibrations of the song we used to dance to, no matter where or what we were doing. I am the woman you can’t help but find in the crowd because my laugh reminds you of the songs your grandmother used to sing to calm you during thunderstorms. I am the woman you should have kept. The woman you know you love.
57. Whose idea was it to move into a house made of stone, with a wooden porch, and a backyard you have to share with a flock of geese?
58. Why didn’t you tell me you were moving?
59. Did you think I wouldn’t care?
60. Are you trying to leave me?
61. Forget about me?
62. Replace me?
63. Did you know the benches on your porch won’t give you splinters?
64. That two gophers have dug a hole under the rotting tree where you curse out the crows perching on its branches?
65. That look you get when you finally see me again, did you save it just for me?
66. Why did you grip my arm so hard, push me down the stairs of your porch, and sent the crows flying with your harsh words mixed with spit?
67. What font is the restraining order typed in?
68. What is the weight of the pen in your hand?
69. How does it feel, writing my name again?
70. Are you sure this is what you want?
71. How did you decide the number of feet to keep between us?
72. Did polka pixie influence your decision?
73. Are you lying or telling the truth?
74. Do you know the difference?
75. Do you miss me?
76. Think of me?
77. While stuck in traffic going to the job you hate but provides for your wife’s growing needs?
78. When she greets you, kisses your cheek, with promises of whatever meal she’s learned from the professional chefs on The Chew?
79. As you take out the trash, sneak a cigarette; flip the cap of your gas tank off, and breathe?
80. Soaked in our self-created danger, do you wish I would appear again?
81. Is this why you never filed those papers?
82. Why you stare at me, hanging from a tree branch of the rotted tree in your backyard? I like to see the world upside down now. To see you falling head first into your doorway. The bark on the branch where I hang cuts my skin until I can feel the warmth of my blood trickle down, forming intricate routes to my waist and I remember how you talked about your clenched fist warmed by someone else’s blood.
83. Does the word “hanging” still make you uncomfortable?
84. What goes through your mind when she calls your name?
85. When she told you she’s pregnant?
86. Do you dream of babies in pink and blue?
87. Multiple colors?
88. None at all?
89. Have you told her this wouldn’t be your first child?
90. Have you told her about Simon?
91. How you held me as I bled?
92. Offered nothing verbally, only physically? Where there once was Simon, you, and I only you and I remained. Folded into one another until I no longer wanted to know where Iended and you began. Only that you somehow swallowed me and waited until I was ready to face what happens after the bleeding stops.
93. In the night, when you abandoned me, did you return to her?
94. Which did you enjoy more, taking nude photos together or delivering the ones just of me in a manila envelope to keep me quiet?
95. Were you happy letting me play the bad guy in your stories?
96. Did you know your wife frequents the park where we first met?
97. Greets me every time she sees me, not knowing my face framed by my short, dyed hair?
98. Do you know the saying, “patience is a virtue?”
99. That, as your son grows older, polka pixie’s attention grows shorter, face hidden behind a book every time he sprints towards the playground?
100. Did you know you can Google “how to kidnap a child” on a burner phone then throw it away, pretending it never existed?
K.B. Carle lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and earned her MFA from Spalding University’s Low-Residency program in Kentucky. When she is not exploring the realms of speculative, jazz, and historical fiction, K.B. avidly pursues misspelled words, botched plot lines, and rudimentary characters. Her stories have appeared in FlashBack Fiction, The Molotov Cocktail, The Cabinet of Heed, Pidgeonholes and elsewhere. She can be found online at http://kbcarle.wordpress.com/ or find her on Twitter @kbcarle.