The three am drunk dial is like a specimen slide. A tiny sliver of self, served up under a glass, and whoever takes the call like a scientist. Poking, and prodding, using it as a guide as they tap on your nerves. “Does this hurt? What about here?”

You spill your guts, and you stop asking for anything in return. It doesn’t matter, you won’t remember in the morning why it seemed so crucial anyway. You just have tearful confessions, admit to all the fear you feel when the sun is out, try to be a bigger person.

And when it’s your ex, you work that much harder. Try to make the slice on the slide a good one, a representative example. “I was just bored, and thought I’d call,” you lie, hiding the hitch in your voice. Trying to avoid saying “I still love you, won’t you come back, can’t we try again?” Because you know you can’t, but there’s the dangling drunken promise that just maybe, if you hold your breath long enough, fate will give in and let you snatch defeat (retrying the failed) from the jaws of victory (freedom from the pain it caused you).

Coffee and catching up on your lives like a biopsy. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” your ex offers, hesitant. Afraid you’ll cry and cling. And you, still numb with the anesthetic of knowing who the next partner is, nod and smile and fake your way through a curry. You give a hug, and think you can hear your pulse so loud it drowns out your goodbyes, your tears falling into your lap.

You pretend it doesn’t hurt, pretend you’re ready for something, anything, resembling real life, the whole time wishing you could fall off the planet, and you can’t, and you just hope against hope that the next cut isn’t as deep. That the one after that shallower still.

This is how you dissect the human heart.


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