Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
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The last time he had come by for his stuff hadn’t been goodbye at all. She’d gone into her bedroom to retrieve his slippers and he’d followed her in and they’d made love on top of the comforter and he’d left empty-handed. This time he stayed put in her living room, poised on the edge of her armchair.

He’d come back for everything. He wanted it all back, every last thing he’d left behind in her apartment. Closure, he called it. She was a loose thread to be bitten off clean between the teeth. Once he had everything, there’d be no reason to call or come by, no excuse to repeat the last visit’s mistake.

Their breakup, he said, was on her. He’d never known a woman to be so selfish.

She returned to the living room with a small box from Amazon. Repurposed from her last book order, it was the smallest box she could find, just the right size to hold all of his belongings. “This should do it,” she said.

He sprang up from her chair, took the box right out of her hands. But there were just a few things in there, really. Those leather slippers she’d bought for him after he’d stayed over and complained about her cold, uncarpeted floors. The two boxes of peppermint tea she’d purchased because he loved the fresh taste and tingle of mint, though its smell made her ill. One night, after a dinner date, she’d surprised him with a cup of that tea, but he’d complained she’d bought the wrong brand. Just a few things to be returned. The package of individual floss picks she’d bought for him after the first night he slept over—the next morning he’d groused at the way her dental floss tangled when he pulled it from the spool. That blue frosted pint glass from the sports bar arcade they’d ventured into that time he’d picked her up after a delayed flight—the closest place they could find near the airport. There they had eaten fried things and watched college football. Afterward, in the games section, they’d played Skee-Ball, and she’d earned just enough tickets to win him the glass.

“Is that everything?” he asked her, checking to be sure.

Surely he could see that everything fit into the small box. For proof, she withdrew each packed item, and, one by one, she replaced them all back snug. The box he held was full. There wasn’t room for anything more. There wasn’t even room for all there was.  

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