Happy Valentine’s Day I Guess
“All I want out of life,” she said, “is to kick the world’s ass.”
I watched her out of the corner of my eye. Her bright pink hair stuck out at angles that shouldn’t even be possible. Every word that she said was one of the most unexpected and obscene things I could imagine. She was the most amazing person I’d ever met.
When we got to her door, she turned and kissed me full on the mouth. I was so surprised, I didn’t even think to shut my eyes.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, laughing, “Never kissed a girl before?” Without waiting for an answer, she turned and skipped up the stairs, still laughing.
Her parents hated me. When she brought me home to meet them, her mother cried as her father screamed. They called me names, blamed me for “corrupting” their daughter.
“But she corrupted me,” is what I wanted to say. But of course I didn’t.
“Don’t worry,” she told me that night after she’d snuck out of the house, “I wouldn’t like you if they didn’t hate you.” We’d just made love for the first time.
We were in the park. I had packed a picnic basket and a bottle of wine. She laughed and called me a walking cliché, but I could tell that she enjoyed it.
After we ate, she lit up a joint. “You want a hit?” she asked.
“No thanks,” I said, “I don’t really…”
“Come on,” she laughed, holding it up to my lips, “Live a little.”
What the hell, I thought, and took a drag.
“How will I know when it hits me?” I asked, five minutes later after I’d stopped coughing.
“You’ll know,” she laughed.
My gaze wandered over to the tree we were sitting under. I was suddenly struck with awe at the intricate pattern of bark covering the trunk. No artist could paint something so detailed, and yet here it had occurred entirely by random chance. Not only that, but no other tree in the history of the world would ever have the exact same pattern of bark. I rolled over and stared up at the leafy canopy. I was astonished at the number of leaves — they seemed uncountable. I turned to look at her, and was overwhelmed with the deepest feelings of positivity, thankfulness to the universe just for the fact that she existed.
“Your eyes are as red as the devil’s dick!” she laughed, “You’re high as hell!”
I laughed too. Why shouldn’t we laugh? We were still young enough that life was funny.
We moved up north and got married. A few years later, I brought up having kids.
“No fucking way am I gonna get pregnant!” she said, “I’m not going through nine whole months of that shit, forget it. Unless you’re volunteering?”
I wasn’t, of course. We adopted. A girl from China. When she turned 17, she ran away and joined the army. We got a letter a few months later saying she’d been killed.
We never talked about it, but we both knew we blamed ourselves. And, to some degree, each other.
She moved out one day. She said it wasn’t my fault. She felt like she’d turned into her mother and couldn’t live with herself that way. I told people she’d run away with some young actor, but as far as I know she never saw anyone else. I know I never did.
I sat by her bed in the hospital. She’d been unresponsive ever since the stroke, but I was there every day. It’s not like I had much else to do these days.
She opened her eyes and looked at me. “Hey there,” she said, a pained smile crossing her lips.
“Shhh,” I said, taking hold of her hand, “Don’t strain yourself.”
She seemed as though she didn’t hear me. “It was a good run, wasn’t it?” she said, squeezing my hand.
“It was,” I said.
“We sure kicked the world’s ass,” she said.
“We sure did,” I said. “We sure did.”