First of all. You can have him. Honestly. I thought I could handle it. Just casually hanging out. ‘Friends with benefits’, whatever you want to call it. I was sure this time I could handle it. When I picked up the phone and called his number, I knew who I was calling and what he would offer. I knew that he would give me the ‘boyfriend experience’ without anything pesky like an attachment or a commitment to go with it. I knew he would take me into his world and make me feel like I belonged there, but my place would be precarious at best.

I was lonely and the truth was, I liked him. I liked hanging out with him, spending time with him. We got along well and we laughed together. I liked him so much in fact that during both our first and second go ‘round I thought it was actually going to turn into something. When I met his daughter I thought, for sure, it was going somewhere, I was excited that she seemed to like me right away, and that he was bringing me into his world.

It didn’t take long after that meeting before he dropped it on me that he just wanted to be friends. He didn’t want to settle down. You see, that was his thing. Honesty. After being cheated on and lied to for years, it was refreshing. I somehow thought that knowing right up front that there was someone else was better than being deceived. I was a fucking moron settling for table scraps. And it would never take long for the reality that I didn’t want to settle for table scraps to bring me back from my delusion.

This last time I wasn’t going to be taken in. I wasn’t going to confuse what was what. I was going to go along, enjoy the ride and not catch any real feelings. And that’s what I did, for a minute. Until we started spending more time together, going out on cute little dates, hanging out with his friends. I stopped asking questions I didn’t want to know the answers to, and I tried to ignore the sick feeling inside my stomach that knew this was just pretending.

It was not long before I was reminded of what I got myself into. I walked in one day while he was on speakerphone with one of his boys. Said boy heard me and asked, “Is that Sarah?” Nope. Not Sarah. And that was the beginning of the end, for the last time. Of course I asked, “Who’s Sarah?” and for once his honesty faltered. I knew he must really care about me if he was going so far as to lie. That’s fucked up, right? In any case, he wasn’t committed to me so what could I do?

The next time I walked in and saw your pink slippers, I was like, ‘Whose fucking slippers are these? And why would he leave them for me to see?’ The answer was so obvious, because he didn’t care if I saw them, and he didn’t care how seeing them would make me feel. You would have thought I would have left immediately. I didn’t. I stayed, we chilled.

I went home and dreamt about pink slippers. I came back another day and your slippers had moved. I somehow doubted that he moved them. Your feet must have been in them while you were walking around, making yourself at home, and then you put them back somewhere else. Your territory was clearly marked out. Your slippers, at the door, like they belonged there. Like you belonged there. And where did that leave me? Was I going to leave behind some signal, or marker, to let you know that I was there too? Was I going to start a war with your slippers? I see your pink slippers, and I raise you my purple bathrobe? No, not me. I’m going to leave this place and never come back. Your slippers, and that guy, are both safe from me.

by Tia Grace