I told you that I still loved all my past girlfriends.
“How many is that?” you asked.
“Well, probably not all of them,” I said. “But five or six for sure.”
You turned your eyes from me and I could see your shoulders drop.
I tried to explain it further. “Love is fluid, I think. It doesn’t follow timelines. Once it starts, it doesn’t end or anything. I mean, it might stop growing but maybe it just buries itself inside of you when a relationship ends. So, like, you can dig it up again if you want to. All of those exes contributed in different ways to make me who I am now. Same with you and your ex-boyfriends. If you never went out with John, you would have never learned to like cool music.”
“I’ll always love John for that,” you said. “But can’t you just be thankful?”
“That’s part of the love,” I said.
“I always think about who will be at my bedside when I’m dying,” you said. “What if all of my ex-boyfriends were there?”
I wasn’t sure what to think about that. “Are they nice?” I finally asked. “I mean, do you love them?”
“I did,” you said.
“But what’s the point of that? The hospital room can only fit so many people. Are they all going to huddle around me and try to hold my hand? I’m claustrophobic. Besides, that’s what the funeral is for.”
“So you just want me there?” I asked.
You answered back quickly. “I don’t want anyone else to see me die. It will be our own private moment.”
Kevin Sampsell is a writer and small press publisher living in Portland, Oregon. He is the editor of Portland Noir (Akashic Books) and author of the memoir, A Common Pornography (Harper Perennial).
This piece is one of two fictional excerpts (to be published separately on Smalldoggies) that are part of a novel in progress called This Is Between Us.