Sunday Stories: “Love is a Two-Way Street”


Love is a Two-Way Street
by Hannah Sloane

We’re our best in front of others. Friends call us a “fun” and “sociable” couple. What this means is we arrive at parties and walk in opposite directions. Independence, that’s what seven years gets you.

I am almost certain that I’m dying.

Friends ask why we aren’t living together. We both have sweet deals, we explain. You don’t pay the mortgage and my apartment is rent controlled, at least that’s our official line. Your place smells of wet socks left rotting behind an electric heater since two Memorial Days ago. But I refuse to clean it. Our relationship has many toxic elements but the mother-son dynamic isn’t one of them.

It’s wider than a dime and firmer than a ripe cherry. I was lathering in the shower when I saw it first. I can’t tell you how long it had been there, playing hide and seek without my knowledge. That was fifteen months ago.

You like jazz and cheerful shit, whereas I play hollow depressing melodies that sound like a fetus slowly being sucked from the womb and into oblivion. Our relationship has endured many an issue, but abortion isn’t one of them, in case you were wondering.

I should tell you or I should leave you, but I do neither. I think this is called burying my head in the sand.

Your parents pay for everything, they dote on you, pumping your ego every chance they get, whereas I drain it dry. I tell you to stop talking about that trip to Machu Picchu as though it validates your “adventurous” side. Everyone’s adventurous, everyone wants to travel, but not everyone can afford to, that’s all it boils down to, I say. You don’t talk about anything for a while after that.

I don’t seek medical attention. I don’t have health insurance, you see. We mature together, the lump and I, you and I, an unlikely threesome. We develop uncomfortably until there’s no going back and all the while I grow steadily meaner.

I think if we broke up I’d adore you again, it’s just familiarity breeds contempt or whatever that expression is. That is why I say the things I say. We might have sex more often if only you had a different setting, a speed slower than a jackhammer, for example. There are nicer ways to tell me that, you say in a low voice that prickles with resentment and I agree.

You never notice it. But how often do you see me without my bra on? Exactly.

They say it takes two to tango. They say love is a two-way street. We used to tango well, but these days we muddle the steps. We tango backwards down the street, our eyes facing the dark, our backs to the sunrise.

If you don’t laugh you’ll cry, they say. I picture my funeral, the casket being carried down the aisle on shuddering shoulders. It passes pew after weeping pew and an organ plays Another One Bites The Dust. I want the last laugh, you see.

I imagine ending it. I watch sitcoms about single people on first dates. It’s simply hilarious! I think that’s a lie. I think a first date is an audition, trying to win someone over in sixty minutes or less. Impossible. There’s a reason why people get hooked on a show’s fifth season and not its pilot.

Hannah Sloane lives in New York and is working on her first novel. More of her fiction and essays can be found at:

Image: I Kwan via Creative Commons

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