The Gulf by Jason Darrell

What went wrong with our relationship? Distance. 

Oh, Kate and I lived together. Shared everything. Even, as it happens, our friends. Like, biblically. Shouldn't that have highlighted the gulf between us? Yes, but ignorance and arrogance ruled. 

We eventually grew to suspect each other's philandering, me more convinced of Kate's than she of mine. That sounds hypocritical. Now. It didn't. Then. 

I was older than Kate. Or was she younger? Believe me, there's a difference. But it was she who eventually matured, severing the relationship, ending the torment. 

This is how screwed we were. 

The night I arrived home to find my bags packed, Kate led me into 'our' bedroom. We talked, accepted we were parting; but, well. We did it. For old time's sake. Then again for good measure. That same weekend she moved someone else in (a [my!] barber); I took to collecting my daughter on Saturday afternoons. The barber worked Saturdays; Kate and I, we'd often repair to the bedroom. 

Oh, I wanted her. But the unperceived cost was tremendous. I'd leave a piece of my soul behind every time we… 

I soon began anticipating our weekly liaison with equal measures of dizziness and dread. 

Then, one Saturday afternoon, something snapped. The amino acids in her fingertips burned tattoos into my cheek; I wanted to ink them in. 

She grabbed my waistband as usual, but then I choked, retreating, repeating over, “Don’t come any closer.” 

You know what? My rejection impressed her, the first look of approval from her in years. It was the last time I ever saw her. 

Our daughter found me yesterday, after 20 years. Her mom, my ex, has died, the distance between us forever untraversable. 

But I can repair the bridge with my daughter; she looks just like Kate… 

…she haunts me still.

Published in Issue #22

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