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“Wait, are you seriously asking me this right now?” Todd responded, shell-shocked by what he’d just heard. “Like, you’re actually saying this to me?”
The air was tense from the second Todd walked into the apartment. So tense, in fact, that Sperry’s head rested firmly on the ground not wanting to move. Todd’s entrance wasn’t that of anger – he set his briefcase bag on the kitchen island and sat down on a barstool in a defeated manner. Exasperated from earlier events, a long day’s work, and the two drinks he was forced to have with a client before Ubering home.
The conversation quickly devolved to the last place he expected it to go. He figured she’d be sitting at the island waiting for him (she was) and he figured the conversation would be difficult (but not this difficult).
With a glass of wine in one hand and her forehead in the other, she said what he least expected – “I think we should take a break.”
They both knew the connotations around “taking a break.” Breaks, while a good idea in theory, are rarely enough time to clear the air and reprioritize. There’s a reason you can’t spell “breakup” without “break,” and Todd knew that.
He struggled to come up with questions to ask her regarding the logistics of the blunt plan she had thrown on him.
“I figured one of us could stay in Caroline and John’s guest bedroom until we sorted things out,” she explained. “And with Derby and our yoga retreat coming up, maybe this is a good time to clear our heads and blow off some steam rather than be at each other’s throats.”
Todd gulped. The plan, for all intents and purposes, made sense. It was no surprise to anyone that they’d been on the rocks lately. Todd figured that she’d had the same conversations with Caroline that he’d been having with John, albeit her conversations probably contained fewer groans and “fucks.”
“I…” he hesitated. “I guess that makes sense.”
Based on her reaction, he couldn’t tell if that was the answer she wanted to hear or if she wanted him to put up more of a fight. The long sip she took of her cab was telling and did nothing but create more tension in the air between them, this prompting Todd to continue.
“So,” he muttered, “Have you talked to Caroline?”
“Have you talked to John?” she shot back.
“No,” he laughed. “Why would I talk to John about temporarily living with him when you’re just now breaking up with me?”
“I’m not fucking breaking up with you, Todd,” she fired off. “We both just need some time to de-fucking-compress – do you disagree with that?”
Todd wiped his hand through his hair and let out an exasperated sigh. He knew the request from her for him to have already talked to John was unreasonable, but he also felt like the request to take a break made actual sense.
“I guess,” he started, “I guess I’ll talk to John.”
“No, no,” she interrupted, “I’ll talk to Caroline, it’s fine.”
“It doesn’t make sense for you to go there,” he explained. “With Sperry here and with you not having a job, it doesn’t make sense for you to be over there since I’ll be at work most of the day anyway.”
“And besides,” he continued, “We’re both leaving for a while next week anyway. If we need to change plans after we get back into town, we can change plans when we get back into town.”
Todd walked over to her opened bottle of wine and picked it up asking to have a glass. She nodded and the only noise across the entire apartment was Sperry readjusting on the ground followed by the pouring of liquid into the glass Todd pulled from the cupboard. Returning to his barstool, he saw her wipe her face.
“I hate this,” she told him. “I really fucking hate this, Todd.”
For a brief moment, he wondered, “Then why did you pitch the idea for this break in the first place?” But he thought back to their drunken arguments, tense Ubers, and every different page that had added up to the manuscript of their broken relationship. And rather than put up a fight, he took a deep breath and assured her, “We’ll work this out.”
She stood up and approached him. Setting his glass down, he put both arms around her and patted her head. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” he repeated a few times before more silence fell on them. “I’m going to give John a call.”
“I’ll take Sperry for a walk,” she told him, reaching for Sperry’s leash. “I’ll be back in, like fifteen.”
She walked out the door and wiped under her eyes to make sure there wasn’t any mascara running from them. She lead Sperry to the elevator which seemingly took forever to reach their floor from the ground level. When she finally got in and pressed the button, she felt her phone begin to vibrate, hoping it was Todd.
It was Caroline.
“Ummmmmmmmmm,” Caroline began the conversation. “Okay, first, why is John on the phone with Todd right now? And second, why did I hear John utter the words, ‘Yeah, you can stay here for a few days?'”
“Okay, okay,” she stopped Caroline. “Are they still on the phone? Can John hear you right now?”
“No, John stepped outside and got super awk the second they started talking. I’m sitting on my couch watching Friends in my pajamas wondering what the eff is going on.”
“I did what you said and told him we should take a break before the yoga retreat and Derby.”
“Uhhhh, that’s not what I said,” Caroline clarified. “I said you should sort things out, not tell your boyfriend to move in with me. Huge diff.”
And before she could respond, Caroline interjected again. “And besides, who goes on a ‘break’ with their boyfriend the week before he goes on a guy’s trip to The Kentucky Derby? Are you serious right now?” .