I have no idea how long I sat on that toilet. Maybe five minutes? Maybe an hour? It was long enough for me to stash a loaded handgun in my bag, replay my distorted version of what had just happened a few hundred times, and begin to experience the return of my feelings.
Unfortunately, they decided to come back all at once.
When my manager came looking for me I told her I wasn’t feeling well. It wasn’t a lie, but of course, she automatically assumed food poisoning. Why did everyone always jump to food poisoning? What the fuck were these people eating? Anyway, she let me spend the remainder of my shift sorting the new fall napkin rings into their respective bins—a cush job by any standards.
As I sorted the pumpkin rings from the dried cranberry coils, I tried to sort my feelings into nice little boxes too. Boxes labeled Anger, Sadness, Security, Betrayal, Lust, and Love. I selected the galvanized silver napkin rings to represent Harley—they looked like they’d been smudged with oil, like his hands—and I chose the black lacquer ones for Knight. They reminded me of black holes, like his pupils, and also like Knight, they didn’t seem to fit in with the others.
In my mind, I pictured a box labeled Anger and saw myself dropping a black ring inside with a plink. I couldn’t fucking believe Knight had pulled that shit again. Why did he keep showing up? Just to force me to say goodbye to him all over again? I was so fucking sick of him leaving, and leaving, and leaving. I couldn’t fucking take it anymore. I dropped another black napkin ring in the Anger box just for good measure, then tossed one into the box marked Sadness while I was at it.
Thinking of Harley, I dropped a silver napkin ring into the box labeled Security. I wasn’t mad at him for starting that fight, even though he’d left me holding the bag—or the gun—so to speak. In fact, I was proud. I’d been praying for someone to protect me from Ronald McKnight since the day we’d met, but no one had been up to the challenge until Harley. And talk about being up to the challenge. Motherfucker didn’t even sweat. Didn’t even flinch. And he threw the first punch.
Was that something he’d learned in jail? I vaguely remembered Knight saying something about Harley being in jail. Whatever. It was probably for shoplifting or some stupid teenage bullshit. I probably needed to talk to him about why the fuck he’d been driving around with a cache of firearms in his trunk, but honestly, I was too turned on by his badassery to care.
Plink, into the Lust box.
There were only two boxes left—Betrayal and Love. Looking back and forth from black to silver, I eventually selected a third napkin ring—one with a stupid looking turkey on it—and dropped it in. That napkin ring represented me. I was the betrayer. I’d betrayed Harley by sleeping with Knight, and now he knew it.
And there was betrayal in Knight’s eyes when he saw Harley with his arm around me. Knight had obviously thought things had changed between us since our last encounter, and I hadn’t told him otherwise. I’d moved on, or tried to, and Knight’s surprise upon discovering that fact twisted in my gut like a knife.
The only box still empty was Love.
And that’s exactly how I left it.
BB Easton lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her long-suffering husband, Ken, and two adorable children. She recently quit her job as a school psychologist to write stories about her punk rock past and deviant sexual history full-time. Ken is suuuper excited about it.