Reconstructing Shelly

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She’s not wild about the name, Shelly.

I could help, I thought. We rode in the car for two days.

I spoke of ordering experience from a catalog and I wanted to know if she was happy with her purchases. “Will you spend the rest of your life this way?” I asked. It sounded like I was asking her but I was really asking myself.

We traveled to the land of technicolor mountains, we slept on a hard bed in a small room and sat at the feet of a yogi whom we both wanted to fuck. We walked in the mountains and swung on an ancient gate. We stepped on grave stones and sat under trees.

None of this is real, we agreed. But it doesn’t matter because it’s just as easy to create one illusion as another.

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My Current Ex

There is a stream that flows past my house. It is old like the beginning of time and it flows into outer space.

Four years ago Travis dumped me for his wife. They were already married.

I visited their home once and his wife, The Leo, was not there. While I did not fondle anything that belonged to her, I left with a telepathic uplink directly to her scheming little head. She was a high stakes gamer. I guess it takes one to know one.

I am a formidable adversary but it wasn’t my fight.

I told Travis, “Your wife is having an affair.”
“No, she’s not.” he replied.
Yes, she is”, I insisted.
“No, she’s not, but even if she were I wouldn’t care.”
“Ok but, yes, she is.”
“No, she’s not. I know her and she would never do that.”
“Yes, she would, and not only that but she is.”
“You don’t need to say anything more about this”, he told me.
“Ok, but I don’t want you to get all pee-pee hearted when you find out.”

I don’t know exactly HOW, but I knew with absolute certainty that I was right.

Two weeks later, on Friday of Memorial Day weekend, The Leo went out of town and accidentally on purpose forgot to log out of her email account on their shared computer.

There is a stream that flows past my house. From time to time it turns rancid and kills all the fish.

The next day, while I sat in my car in the parking lot of a church, Travis explained to me all the ways in which he was to blame for his wife’s affair and how he would walk through fire to get her back. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!?!” I demanded. I hung up the phone and went inside to photograph a wedding.

That same day, Dean told me that he was dying. I had been angry with him but the sheer desperation of my mood as I watched the wedding ceremony and prepared to shoot myself in the head, I mean shoot the family groups, had driven me to reach out to the one friend who could calm my heart in a crisis. I thought he was being snarky, and he was, but I did not realize until almost a year later that he had just suffered a 2nd heart attack following the death of his fiancé. We needed each other but I could not reach further than one simple text.

The Leo, upon realizing she was caught, divulged only as much info as she knew was on the loose, which wasn’t actually very much. Then, in one brilliant stroke of table-turning genius, she convinced Travis that it was his fault. I pointed this out but he was not able to follow my reasoning. Well played, Leo bitch, well played…

The Leo promised she would end her affair.

“No, she won’t”, I said.
“Yes, she will”, Travis insisted.
“Whatever”, I said.

Two weeks later, The Leo accidentally on purpose came home with condoms in her brief case. Five years prior to that day, Travis had a vasectomy.

“I will try even harder to win her back”, Travis said.
“Why?” I asked.

There is a stream that flows past my house. It comes from nowhere and it goes nowhere.

The Leo continued to flaunt her affair while simultaneously blaming Travis and claiming to be unable to decide whether or not she could still love him.

“I feel so close to her now”, Travis explained, “because she’s being real.”
“She’s clearly fucking with you now“, I said, “because she can.”
“No…, no, she would never do that.”

Here we go again…

Travis remained tragically unable to grasp what was happening and I grew increasingly unwilling to explain.
“Seriously”, I threw up my hands, “are you retarded?”

This went on for months until finally I gave up and went away. As a parting shot to the heart, I told Travis, “When she finally gets around to settling for you, you’ll think you’ve won, briefly, until you discover that you don’t want her anymore and then you’ll see what a sad waste of time this has been.” Naturally, he didn’t believe me.

There is a stream that runs past my house. If you swim in it long enough, you end up where you were.

Three and a half years later Travis and The Leo are now divorced. Dean has left me to go to Memphis and Travis has returned. I don’t know why I am still drawn to him. It makes me nervous and I’m afraid of what might come of it. It clearly didn’t go very well last time and yet, I don’t send him packing.

The revolving door turns but I think the point is about something other than opportunity. Maybe I have something to teach him or maybe he has something to teach me or maybe I just want someone to play the part.

There is a stream that flows past my house but actually it’s only a mirror.