My ex-boyfriend owns a pub called The Rascally Rabbit, and every time I go there he tries to convince me to fuck him. I say, “I’m married.”
He says, “Me too. And?”
I say, “And, your wife’s a bitch.” This is true, though Shannon and I were good friends before she married my ex-boyfriend. Well, she’s not bitchy so much as cutting. In high school, we called her Scissors.
He says, “And, your husband’s an idiot.”
“Neil has emotional intelligence,” I say, and my ex-boyfriend snorts. He has his back to me, he’s making me a secret drink. He mixes it in an aluminum shaker, and I have a vision of him onstage, seventeen and beautiful, a tambourine in his hand, in that awful band we used to play in. He pours my drink into a frosted glass with grooves, and watches me taste it.
“What’s in it?” he says.
“Lime,” I say, which is cheating, because I saw him grab the lime. But it’s true I taste it. “Something spicy.”
“Yes!” he says, and shows me the chili-infused tequila his wholesaler delivered. “What does it remind you of?”
“Baja,” I say. A bunch of us road-tripped there after our high school graduation. Shannon was on that trip, that’s when she was dating Kenny. I remember them screaming at each other on the beach: someone had been flirting with someone. My ex-boyfriend and I were lying on the sand a hundred feet away, though we could hear Shannon calling Kenny things: Douchebag, Pencil Dick. I remember my ex-boyfriend shaking his head, and saying, “Man, Scissors.” But laughing, like she was amusing instead of horrible. He sprinkled sand onto our clasped hands until they were entirely buried, a knot in the sand.
“Let’s never be like them,” I told him.
I’ve dated a bunch of guys since my ex-boyfriend, but he is the one I always mean by ex-boyfriend. He was the first person I loved; sometimes I think the last. When I found out he and Scissors were getting married, I cried so hard blood vessels broke in my eyes. I looked like a vampire.
“So how about it?” my ex-boyfriend says.
I say, “I’m married.”
He holds up a coaster and rotates it. “This conversation is circular.”
The coaster has Elmer Fudd on it, wearing his hunter’s cap, toting a rifle. All the coasters have Bugs Bunny characters. When we were in high school, we used to get stoned and then watch Bugs Bunny cartoons with his little brother. Leo, he’s about to graduate from high school himself now. My favorite episodes were the ones with the giant sheepdog who clutches Bugs to his chest and promises to hug him and love him forever. Though those episodes also broke my heart: Bugs squirming to get away, that sheepdog practically squeezing him to death.
“Is there Amaretto in this?” I ask, and my ex-boyfriend nods, pleased, successfully distracted.
For Christmas when we were eighteen I paid $75 to name a star after him. Now I would never do something so cheesy and impractical.
One day I’ll come to The Rascally Rabbit and my ex-boyfriend won’t hit on me. I can see it clearly, this vision from the possibly near future. I’ll sit at the bar, he’ll get me an IPA on tap, and that’s when I’ll know I am no longer young.
Kim Magowan lives in San Francisco and teaches in the Department of Literatures and Languages at Mills College. Her short story collection Undoing won the 2017 Moon City Press Fiction Award and is forthcoming in March 2018. Her novel The Light Source is forthcoming from 7.13 Books. Her fiction has been published in Atticus Review, Bird’s Thumb, Cleaver, The Gettysburg Review, Hobart, New World Writing, Sixfold, and many other journals.
Lead image: “scissor” (via Flickr user anika)