I’m broken. He left me the day we got our marriage license. For the past three months, I’ve done nearly nothing other than sit in a rocking chair and stare at the phone, waiting. Waiting for this.
He went back to his ex-girlfriend, now they’ve split up. He wants sympathy from me, and I give it to him. Damon tells me all the ways Julie was such a fucking cunt, how he was wrong to leave me. How she left him for someone else, stupid bitch. I tell him I forgive him for everything. For the split lip, for leaving me, all of it. I love him, I tell him over and over, hoping to erase his pain.
“Come home,” he says finally. So I do.
The house is strewn with litter, pizza boxes stacked up on the table, empty two liters roll around on the floor. Nothing’s changed. Damon greets me with open arms and I fall into them, weeping with gratitude.
“I missed you, baby,” Damon says, pulling my shirt over my head. I follow him upstairs. He’s switched bedrooms in the months since I’ve been away, choosing the smaller, darker room over the big sunnier one we shared. He kicks something red and lacy under a pile of clothes before I can see it. Did Julie insist that he move things around? I’m disoriented. It feels like we left off yesterday, but too many things are different.
I unzip his fly, he has new underwear, black and blue striped. Did he buy those for her? Did she buy them for him? We lay back on the bare mattress. There aren’t even sheets on it, just a dirty rumpled blanket that he shoves aside. He lays on top of me, yanking my panties down. Did he fuck her here?
We have homecoming sex and I try to not cry. I won. He loves me, not her. All my wishing made it so. Damon fucks me and I cling to him. He never opens his eyes, even when we kiss.
With a grunt, he comes, rolls off of me. He sits on the edge of the mattress and looks for his cigarettes. There are long red scratches down his back, fresh, but not from me. He lights two Camels, hands me one. He sees the question before I can ask it and cuts me off.
“Hey, you know what?” he exclaims, “the rats had more babies!” We had each started out with one of our own, then he started breeding them to sell to the pet shop.
“Show me!” I say.
Damon gets up, throws on a shirt and his underwear. I cover myself with the dirty blanket and smoke while I wait for him.
He comes back with a box full of baby rats. I peer in, there’s at least a dozen. Inside the box is a moving collage of pink and white little bodies climbing over each other.
Damon pulls the blanket from me, lays down. He tips the box on it’s side and the babies run out, up our arms and legs. A few run across my bare stomach, their tiny claws tickle and I laugh. The sunshine streams in suddenly through the window. We lay together, watching the rats crawl over us and through the sunbeams. I smile, genuinely, for the first time in months.