“Tara, wake the fuck up!” Chad yelled at me as he kicked the side of the couch I was sleeping on.
“Huh? What? What’s going on?” I asked, confused as I rubbed my eyes and tried to pull myself together.
“I said wake the fuck up! What are you doing sleeping anyway? It’s 3:30 in the afternoon.”
“So what? I’m tired. Why are you waking me up?”
“I’m waking you up because you’re always fucking tired. When you’re home, all you ever do is sleep.”
“Well excuse me for being exhausted. I work 12-hour days and have to drive an hour each way to get there and back. That would be bad enough as it is, but the fact that my job has swing shifts means I can never get into a sleeping pattern.”
“It’s always some excuse with you. You’re forever telling me how tired you are. You sure make plenty of time for sleep, but not any time for me.”
“Are you being serious right now? Are you listening to yourself? I’m working my ass off and have a very demanding job. I’m sorry that me paying the bills is such an inconvenience to you.”
“Oh, here we go with that shit again,” he groaned sarcastically. “You always have to bring up that you have all these bills to pay. Excuse the fuck out of me for getting into that car accident. You weren’t bitching when you knew there was a settlement check coming.”
“You’re right, I wasn’t bitching then. I thought the settlement money was going to be used to catch up on the bills and pay the credit cards off. Instead, you chose to blow the money on stupid video game systems and every game under the sun. And stop acting like you don’t have a job because of the accident. You were given a clean bill of health months ago. You just don’t want to put the controller down long enough to be a responsible adult.”
“You know what, Tara? I don’t have to sit here and listen to this.”
“You’re right. You’re more than welcome to leave at any time.”
“Fuck this, I’m out here and I’m not coming back,” he threatened.
“Yeah, okay,” I said, rolling my eyes as I tried to close them again. All I wanted to do was take a nap because I am always so tired. Working and supporting both of us is hard and the job I have is physically taxing, especially after working twelve hours. But my days of work aren’t just 12 hours. No, they’re more like 15 because I have to get up to get ready for work, drive there, work my shift, and then drive home.
“I mean it. We’re fucking through,” Chad walked back into the bedroom and filled a duffle bag with some clothes. “I’ll be back to get the rest of my shit later. I can’t stand to look at your face for one more second.”
He slammed the door as he left, shaking one of the pictures off the wall, shattering the glass in the process. In what was an ominous sign, I realized, was that it was the picture we had taken together after our first date.
Stunned, I sat on the couch, trying to figure out exactly what had just happened.
* * *
“Fuck men!” I yelled into the phone just as the line stopped ringing.
“Well hello to you too, Tara,” the male voice replied from the other end of the line.
“Oh, hi Matt. Is Erin around? I kind of need to talk to her.”
“Sure, give me just a second.”
I could hear what sounded like Matt stomping around the house like a mad man, the sounds of a blaring television and a kid screaming in the background filling my ears, making me want to stab out my eyeballs. I guess one good thing about Chad and me is that we never had any kids—although, taking care of him felt like I did.
“Erin, it’s that crazy friend of yours again,” Matt joked as he handed her the phone. At least, I hoped he was joking.
“Hey Tara, what’s up?”
“Hey Tara? Your husband just said it’s your crazy friend and you reply with Hey Tara? What the fuck?” I joked.
“Oh shut up, you know I have caller ID. Besides, we are all a little crazy, you know that!”
“Yeah, that’s true. Anyway, fuck men!”
“Oh no, what happened?” She asked.
“What happened? Chad happened! That piece of shit!”
“I figured, but what did he do this time?”
Erin sounded annoyed and I couldn’t blame her. This wasn’t the first time I’d called her to vent about my boyfriend, but this was the first time things had gone so horribly wrong.
“He broke up with me! Can you believe it? The asshole actually broke up with me!”
“What? He broke up with you? That’s impossible. You were easily the best thing that has ever happened to him.”
“I don’t know if I’d go that far.”
“Are you crazy? Look at you and look at him. You’re gorgeous. You work your ass off to make sure you’re successful and he can’t even get his shit together. I’ll never understand how he ended up with you.”
“You’re right,” I sighed. “I don’t know what I see in him. The sex isn’t even that good.”
“See? He has no job, he has no game, and he’s a financial burden on you. I’m sorry to say, but if he’s gone, I’m glad. You deserve so much better than him.”
“You know what really irks me?” I asked her but didn’t wait for a response. “The fact that he’s always put me down. He always told me that nobody else would want me.”
“What?” She gasped. “You’re kidding, right? Why would he say that?”
“Beats the fuck out of me,” I said, sitting up on the couch. “He said that my ass is too big and that I’m not very attractive.”
“Fuck that,” she said. “Don’t listen him.”
“You know, now that I’m thinking about it, maybe my ass is too big. I could stand to lose some weight. It’d probably do me good.”
“No!” She yelled into the phone. “You’re perfect just the way you are. First of all, I don’t think your ass is big and even if it were, I know a lot of men who love a little extra cushion. Second, his dick was too small. I’ll never get over how little you said he was. Tell me, why were you wasting your time again? You should go out and find someone new.”
I thought about what she said for a minute and agreed. “You’re right! I should show him—and prove to myself—that other men do find me attractive and want me.”
“That a girl,” she exclaimed. “That’s exactly what you need to do. Put yourself back out there and find someone better.”
“Hmm,” I thought. “Would you want to go out with me tonight? We could go to a bar or club or something.
“Oh, Tara, I’d love to but you know that I never have a sitter for Maddie.”
“What about Matt? Couldn’t he keep her while we go out?”
“I’m sure he would but he’s been working a lot of overtime. Christmas, taxes, bills, they all add up. He’s only had one day off in the last two weeks and won’t get another day off until next Wednesday.”
“Erin,” I whined into the phone as I played with my hair. How in the fuck do I get so many split ends? “Please, this is really important. Can’t you get someone to watch her? A neighbor, a friend, or one of her grandparents?”
She huffed into the phone. “You know what? Let me see what I can do because as much as you need to get back on the market, momma needs a night off! I’ll text you in a bit but I’m pretty sure I can get Melissa—the teenager across the hall—to babysit fairly cheap.”
“Oh, thank you, that’d be awesome. I’ll go ahead and start getting ready. I haven’t been out on a Saturday night in ages so I’m ready to go!”
“No problem, babe. Get yourself all made up and I’ll start doing the same.”
When we ended the call, I decided to lie back down on the couch for a minute before getting ready. Finding a sitter on quick notice for a four-year-old is no easy task, especially when it’s so late in the afternoon. I figured I could get ready in half the time it takes her anyway since I don’t also have to get a kid ready and a bag packed.