Breaking Up by Mike Yoon

The X Men Hagen Klennert

The X Men by Hagen Klennert

Breaking Up

You are unhappy. You have been with her for some increment of time between months and years now. Despite remembering what made you so embarrassingly head-over-heels for her that you had to force your heart back down your throat in fear of doing or saying something so grossly sentimental that you’d have no other choice but to punch yourself in the face, you know what you have to do.

So you walk to work each day sifting through memories to find what made your interest wane, only finding fault in miniscule things: awkward pauses, silences that feel too prolonged, the way she never closes the door when peeing. You’re not sure if these minor grievances just seem exaggerated at this particular time or if time has brought clarity to them. You could just be temporarily wrong. But some days, that Tears for Fears song that you love so much comes on and you can’t help but slip into an air-drumming session on the subway as if a part of a Coca-Cola commercial promoting diversity (not a single other passenger offers you a choreographed high-five). You laugh at yourself and avoid the stares of strangers before she quickly reenters your mind, politely asking you to put your joy back and continue your surgical dismemberment of her memory. You quietly apologize and resume your melancholic state.

You get to work, and every keystroke at your office computer feels like a small punch to your heart, small reminders of the crushing blow you will soon deliver. Other days, you lose yourself in your work, which is surprising considering the fact that the fun-ceiling on Excel spreadsheets and compiling annual reports is fairly low. You find yourself immersed in the water cooler talk, chuckling at Jerry’s story about blacking out in the Bahamas but secretly telling yourself that he is a hack and relies too heavily on drunken stories for laughs, then wondering if your coworkers really think Jerry is as gregarious as he purports himself to be. As you sit back down at your desk you see a small picture of a slim pug next to your keyboard, an artifact of a stupid inside joke you had with her which has never had the payout you expected when explained to friends, and you’re dumbfounded by how you could have forgotten about your pre-separation anxiety. You don’t know if you were ignoring it or if you’ve already moved on.

Some days, you spend lunch unable to take a single bite. You feel disgusted with yourself: for being able to afflict such unnecessary pain on another person, your flippant feelings that change with the slightest breeze, your utter inability to answer the question “What do you want?” But just last Friday, you surprised yourself by eating an entire pizza, even extending your lunch break by 30 minutes to grab a quick drink with a buddy, you sneaky son of a bitch. And in the midst of fighting off a food coma in the afternoon haze, your heart alerts you to the prickly reality that you were pushing aside for a fleeting moment.

When you get home, you begin compiling the different possible ways to end things. There are the overused clichés: “It’s not you, it’s me.” “I’m just not in a place to be dating.” “I feel like I need to spend some time on me.” They all ring with small semblances of truth, but you know the most truthful thing to say is simply, “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” However, you know you can’t say that. So you bang your head against a wall. And then you make yourself a drink. And then you turn on Netflix. And before you know it, you’re under the influence of technicolor hypnosis.

She calls to tell you that she’s coming over, to which you respond with fictitious excitement. You cannot work up the courage to tell her, “We need to talk,” you pussy, but instead tell yourself it’s because you can’t stomach banal platitudes like that. She’ll be there in fifteen to twenty moments. You’re suddenly very aware of your body; your limbs hang like dead tree branches and you’re unsure if you’ve been breathing or just dry swallowing since you’ve been home. But you look at your hand and it’s steady.

The doorbell rings, and you let her in. She starts telling you about her day and you’re trying your damn hardest to listen but her words dissolve into a ringing in your ears. When you look around your home it starts to feel foreign and you don’t even remember the walls being that particular shade of eggshell off-white but they must have been and you don’t know whether your perception of her has been right or not but you tell yourself that this is how you feel and how you feel is all you have right now and you try and brace yourself for this blow all while feeling so naïve and infantile to fear pain at this age and you imagine the kitchen as an interrogation room and the table is now long, metallic and cold and she’s on the other side of it with handcuffs on and in front of you is a key and a gun and as you sit across from her, you grab the gun. And you look up at her. And she smiles at you. And you have no idea what you’re about to say.

Mike Yoon was in the Peace Corps but now is unemployed and lives with his parents. He spends most of his time tweeting @Yoonicorn. So he’s doing alright. Please hire him.

Hagen Klennert
*1962
grew up in East Berlin and Moscow
lives and works as drawer and painter
in Berlin / Germany