“The Aftermath” – Healing After a Breakup, Short Story

The First Day After…

It feels like the hundredth time this morning that something reminds you of them. The grocery store bakery carries that rare bread that they like. You’re tempted to smell it because you think it’ll make you feel close to them again. You think burying your nose into something they love will turn you back into something they love. It won’t. It’ll just make you that weird person who gets too friendly with the bread. So you stare at it intently, but walk away to avoid the embarrassment.

It’s a few hours later and it’s taking every part of you to not check their social media profiles. You’ve spent all day running errands and cleaning and watching T.V. But not a lot of things are open on Sundays, and your apartment wasn’t messy to begin with, and you’ve caught up on all your favorite shows. Your favorite shows. Not the ones the two of you would watch together. You can’t handle that right now.

So you sit alone letting the light from the T.V. fill the living room and your time. There are funny videos on YouTube, too, you think, “you can watch those.” There’s no crime against it. Out of habit you go directly to your newsfeed. You don’t redirect the page to YouTube like intended, you decide to scroll down instead. It isn’t long before their name is on your screen. Overwhelmed with emotions you aren’t familiar with, the sight of their name aches. The post they made is from a few days ago – back in time, before the explosion. Your stomach turns because you hate them. Because you miss them. You realize they haven’t deleted you. You go to sleep feeling just as lost as you did as when you woke up.

The Fourth Week After…

Your friend texts you to join them at a party tonight. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to,” they say. “I understand if it’s too soon,” they say. It’s too soon, but you’re drained from loneliness, and the time out of your apartment and around smiling faces might do you some good. You don’t feel like putting in the effort to get ready, but you end up taking a long shower and spend more time in the mirror than usual. Yes, you look different. Heartbreak can do that to a person.

There’s a lot of beer and even more people. A lot of them are good looking and you can feel your attitude adjusting. One of the cutest people there makes eye contact with you. You smile. They smile. They make their way over to you and introduce themselves. Their name is Taylor. You and Taylor sit on the couch in the middle of the party and talk over the noise. The loud talking goes on for a few minutes before Taylor asks if you want to go somewhere more quiet. “Of course,” you say. Taylor is fucking hot. You’d be stupid not to go, sad or not.

Summer isn’t quite here yet, but it feels like it is while the two of you sit on a bench in the backyard. It’s cozy and so you have to sit close together. There are a few others outside, too, but no one who cares about what anyone else is doing. Taylor kisses you. You kiss back. You kiss back hard. And then when everything is going well, you think about kissing them instead. You pull away from Taylor and they ask for your number. You give it to them and get theirs as well. You have every intention of texting them later. The thought passes.

Two Months After…

You’re finally able to catch up on one of those shows the two of you used to watch together. It’s not as funny as you remember. You start another series instead. This one makes you laugh harder than you have in a long time.

Three Months After…

Thoughts of them still flash through your memory, but it doesn’t give you a headache because your mind is more focused on more important things. You’ve decided to go back into the hobbies you used to have before your life started to revolve around them. They didn’t like to read comics, or play soccer, or even go out to parties with you. You’ve started to remember who you were before them. Your friends have been coming around a lot more lately and they remind you of how funny you used to be, and how outspoken you were. They bring up times when you had made a dull night into a fun night just by being yourself. You remember who you were back when you were you.

Five Months After…

You go through your phone to delete numbers that take up space. Their name comes up. You delete the contact without thinking because you know you won’t be needing it. Huh. There’s Taylor. You remember them.

Eleven Months After…

Using YouTube as a pastime isn’t really Taylor’s thing, and you know that, but you like the feeling of knowing that they do something that you like to do, even if they don’t. 

Four Weeks During….

It feels like the hundredth time that they’ve left something in your laundry. You go to separate the clothes, but you can’t help but hold the cloth to your nose and inhale. It still smells like them. And it smells like you, too. Both of you intertwine in the shirt the same way you do a few nights out of the week. You feel warmth. You’re you. And they’re them. And that’s all you need.

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Georgia St. Jones is a California broke girl using music, art, and literature as a way to be universal and staff contributor for The Strange is Beautiful.
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See her latest posts here.

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