We broke up long distance. She crushed my heart by e-mail.
It wasn’t her fault. Not really. We were just separated temporarily for her job. Six months, then she’d be back. We’d be back, together. It was a trial separation, for fiscal reasons.
She e-mailed because she was too sick to be understood over the phone. I wanted to drive there, to simmer the chicken soup and boil the tea, to wrap the blanket around her. She always needed me to take care of her.
Even though I have the uber bug from hell, she wrote, I finally realized I can make my own damn soup.
The next paragraph told me she was going overseas, teaching English to willing Vietnamese children. Her flight left in a week, and she wouldn’t be coming back to our home. I couldn’t fill the hole in my stomach with rum, whisky, vodka. I couldn’t pretend that she was just around the corner when she was in a different day.
When I started sneezing and my temperature spiked, I smiled. I left the windows open and kept my hair wet. I threw the chicken noodle soup out for the insane tree-rat squirrels, and walked around without my shoes.
The fever ripped through me, hot and cold waves of sweat soaking the couch, and I cried with the joy of having a little something of hers back with me again.