From behind me, the elevator chimes. And I stop and turn to the big gold double doors.

I wait.

Hope.

Because this is how it always happens in the movies, isn’t it? Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, and every other John hughes film I grew up watching. Just before the girl walks away or gets in the car, the guy comes sprinting down the street.

Chasing after her.

Calling her name.

Telling her he didn’t mean it. Not any of it.

And then they kiss. And the music plays and the credits roll.

That’s what I want right now. The happy ending that everyone knew was coming.

So I hold my breath. And the doors open.

You want to guess who’s in there? Go ahead—I’ll wait.

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It’s empty.

And I feel my chest cave in on itself. My breaths come quick, panting through the pain—like when you twist an ankle. And my vision blurs as the elevator doors slowly close.

It seems so symbolic.

I guess I’ve got my own doors to close now, huh?

I wipe my eyes. And sniff. And I adjust the bag on my shoulder.

“Yeah, Lou. I’m ready now.”

Chapter 8

A sshole. They say grief is a process. With stages.

Bastard.

And breakups are a lot like a death. The demise of the person you were, of the life you’d planned to have.

Cocksucker.

The first stage is shock. Numbness. Like one of those trees in a forest—after a fire has ripped through it—that are scorched and hollow, but somehow still standing.

Like someone forgot to tell them you’re supposed to lay down when you’re dead.

Dick toucher.

Care to hazard a guess what the second stage is?

Oh yeah—it’s anger.

What have you done for me lately—I’m better off without you; I never liked you anyway—anger.

Ear-fucker. No, that’s lame. Eater-of-ass.

Better.

The alphabetical naughty name-calling? It’s a game Delores and I made up in college. To vent our frustration against the outof-touch, stick-up-the-ass professors who were giving us a hard time.

Feel free to jump in anytime. It’s cathartic.

And for some reason, a lot easier when you’re a high college student.

Fuckface.

Anyway—what was I saying? That’s right—anger.

Gooch.

Fury is good. Fire is fuel. Steam is power. And rage keeps you standing, when all you really want to do is curl up in a ball on the floor like a frightened armadillo.

Herniated Intestine.

here’s a fact for you: Married men live seven to ten years longer than bachelors. Married women, on the other hand, die about eight years earlier than their single counterparts.

Are you shocked? Me neither.

Infected dick cheese.

Because men are parasites. The life-sucking variety from the rainforest that burrow up your genitalia, then lay eggs in your kid-neys.

And Drew Evans is their leader.

Jerk-off.

The flight attendant asks me if I would like a complimentary beverage.

I’m on the plane. Did I not mention that?

I don’t take the drink; I’m trying to avoid the airplane bathroom. Too many memories there. Fun, sweet memories.

Kooch.

See—Drew doesn’t like to fly. he never came out and said it, never let it stop him, but I could tell.

Flying requires you to hand someone else the reins—to let go of the illusion of control. And we all know Drew has enough control issues to fill the Grand Canyon.

Right before takeoff, he’d get moody. Tense. And then, after the seat belt sign went off, he’d suggest a joint trip to the lavatory.

To relieve some of that tension.

I could never say no.

The Mile high Club? I’m a gold member now.

Leaky discharge.

After the cart moves past me, I recline my seat back and close my eyes. And I think about what every scorned woman dreams of.

Payback.

Suffering.

Punishment.

Molester of Llamas.

Not that I’m going to go all Lorena Bobbitt on him. A woman’s most powerful weapon is guilt—much more lethal than a machete.

So my revenge scenarios revolve around . . . death.

My death.

Sometimes it’s cancer; sometimes it’s childbirth. But in every one, Drew is banging on my deathbed door, begging to come in, to tell me how assholishly wrong he was.

how sorry he is.

But he’s always too late. I’m already gone. And that knowledge destroys him—leaves him wrecked. Ruined.

The guilt eats at him slowly, like a tooth in a glass of Coca-Cola.

Nutsack puller.

And he spends the rest of his life alone wearing black, like an eighty-year-old Italian grandma.

Orca fingerer.

I smile.

It’s such a nice thought.

Pillow-biting Pansy.

That’s a double-word score.

Delores would be so proud.

Queef.

Oh, yeah—I went there.

Rim job.

You know, I think it’s better this way. No bullshit. If I look at the situation objectively, I’m better off this way.

Drew did me a favor.

Smegma eater.

Because even though he likes to play dress-up in Daddy’s bigboy suits? Emotionally, he’s an adolescent. A child.

Testicle licker.

The kind no one else likes to play with. Because when a game’s not going his way? he smashes the board to pieces.

Urinary tract infection.

And who needs that?

Not me. No, sir. I deserve more.

Vagina.

I’m going to get through this. I’m Kate Fucking Brooks.

I will succeed.

I will survive.

I will persevere.

Whoreboy.

Even if it’s just to spite him. Stubborn is my middle name.

X-tra absorbent maxi-pad.

I was fine before Drew, and I’ll be fine after him.

Just because I’ve never been alone, doesn’t mean I can’t be.

I. Don’t. Need. him.

Really.

Yeasty seepage.

Are you convinced?

Zithead.

Yeah.

Me neither.

I know what you’re thinking. Why? That’s the big question, isn’t it?

The one Nancy Kerrigan made famous. The one everyone wants answered when tragedy strikes.

Why, why, why?

human beings like explanations. We crave reasons, something to blame. The levees were too low, the driver was drunk, her skirt was too short—the list is endless.

The drive from Akron to Greenville takes about three hours.

That’s a lot of time to drive. And think. And I spent the whole trip thinking about why.

If I had it to do all over again, I would have asked him. I wish I could say it was all some terrible mistake. A misunderstanding— like in Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story.