Prologue 5

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I know he's gone before I'm fully awake. I go up on one arm, the other pushing the hair out of my eyes. The bed is expansive and empty, and though it smells of him, he isn't in it. There is only me.

But I call out anyway. "Jackson?"

Hollow silence answers me.

I listen to it, remembering. Remembering the brutality of last night. The tears. His and mine. The desperation with which he took me after exhausting his grief, still intense, but not hurtful. Not that time. It was slow, delicate, like a memory already made. Made and being re-lived.

Like falling asleep on his chest, worn down, fatigued in every muscle, my emotions brittle. Too tired to wonder what happens now. So tired, but still so acutely aware of him, feeling him breathe underneath me, his hand at my neck, tangled in my hair.

I haven't slept like that, since...

A long time.

I kick my legs out, my feet feeling overly sensitive as they hit the cold floor. My clothes are strewn about the room, sad pathetic articles isolated from each other, reminding me how each one was shed.

I gather them up, wobbling a bit here and there, then catch sight of myself in the floor to ceiling mirror and stop. The left side of my neck is a mass of purple bruises from where he bit me, my shoulder too. I turn, my neck complaining as I twist it to look down the length of my back. Fingerprints and bite marks.

I don't bother with my bra. Just the sight of it hurts.

I pull my t-shirt on, wincing, and freeze.

"No."

On the counter...

No, no, no, no.

A small stack of papers. I reach for them, hands trembling.

"No."

I'm on the ground, legs crumpled under me, sobbing frantically into the sheaf of divorce paperwork bearing his signature next to every X.

...

He's left Vegas. I know that because of fucking Facebook. He's going on tour. I know that because has a list of major US cities, followed by major European ones.

I sign the papers... it takes me a week and two bottles of Popov to do it. And then I mail them. I'm divorced now. Maybe not officially, maybe not until I get the final notification. But it's as good as.

I feel somewhat naked without my necklace. I looked for it that morning, for his ring and mine, but I couldn't find them.

The days go by and photos find their way into my life. Dingy, dark clubs and bars packed with people, Jackson perched atop his stool on small stages, his band clustered behind him. I like to think he looks worn down, like I feel. But he doesn't. He looks like he always does.

I look like I always do.

Unhappy.

And then one day, after throwing up my breakfast of leftover apple pie from a shitty strip-hell diner, I realize, looking in the mirror and counting back. I don't look unhappy. I look pregnant.

The lady at Walgreens thinks so too, because as she scans my Clear Blue Easy, she tells me I'm already glowing. She congratulates me. Like I did this on purpose. Like I want to see a little plus sign appear after I pee on the stick in the box she's handing me.

Do I?

I ponder it on the walk back to my apartment. I've always known... not thought, not wondered, known. That I would be a mediocre mom. My own mom was parenting optional.

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