Auld Lang Syne You dreaded this: she wants to dance with you. You came with someone else, didn’t you? Shouldn’t it be obvious? The blonde with the nice ass waits patiently across the room. This girl stands before you - this girl you rejected ages ago. You didn’t reject her because she’s brunette, or because she doesn’t have a nice ass, because she does. She’s just . . . old news. Everybody knows it. Why doesn’t she? You dreaded this: she’s going to beg you in front of all these people, make you say no to her one last time. You take her measure. Will she make a scene? Is the Blonde watching how you handle those who came before her? Sure, then, just this one dance. She tells you it’s your song. If it was, you don’t remember it. The blonde is patient, confident, and you are smiling and friendly and counting minutes in your head until you can leave with her. This is a waste of everyone’s time. But you let Brunette play it out. Maybe she is thinking it will end differently. She’s delusional. Have you seen that ass? It’s over. It’s over. The song is over. She looks up at you, and you realize the song was about taking someone home and she is questioning. She’s forced your hand, and you have to say it. You take her hands in yours, and you choke out the words. I can’t. I . . . it’s . . . just . . . no. I’m sorry. Her face tells you she understands; she nods, shrugs, accepts. You sidestep as she tries to look proud, because she is smiling too, but she’s defeated and looks pathetic. You want to scramble backwards because she disgusts you now, her drippy need and cried-out eyes. She has nothing you want anymore, and you can’t remember why she ever did. You are bored with her, sick of her, ready to forget her. When you leave – after a polite few minutes even though you want to sprint – you put your arm around Blonde, and Blonde is all you think about. It’s easy, so obvious, so transparent. The logic is irrefutable. Some hours later, when the party is long over and you wake up with the Blonde against you – her ass is everything you imagined it would be – you realize that Brunette never meant for you to take her back. She meant to intrude, somehow, on your future. She meant for you to remember her and the song and maybe, even if she couldn’t have you, she could launch a tiny, guilty wedge under your triumphant night. She meant for you to imagine her home alone, pulling you away from the Blonde gaze. Even a second’s distraction would have been a triumph. You shake your head in pity as you pull your new love close. You hadn’t thought about her at all. Well, except the one time. The one time when you realized you were joyous, jubilant that you’d left. The one time when you thought, Good Riddance. May she never know how little she mattered, and how happy you were to move on, away, up, and out.
Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram
Michelle Cristiani (she/her) teaches reading and writing at Portland Community College and has a PhD in anthropology from the University of New Mexico. She won the Margarita Donnelly Prose Prize from Calyx Press in 2018 for a memoir of stroke recovery at age 42 and has another memoir excerpt in Inverted Syntax’s Autumn 2023 issue, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Find Michelle at heart-pages.com and on twitter @heart_pages