The Pretender

Julie never fell in love too much. She kept her heart guarded with loss and heartbreak. The office job was killing her. The mundane shit adults pretend to enjoy to keep the battle with legal tender and all the shit it can buy but happiness. She had gotten lonely since the divorce and with both the kids off to college the days flew by. It was work then home. Work then home. Work then home. Many of her friends had moved on and rarely had time to socialize anymore and Julie wondered if they had even been friends to begin with. She thought about the old adage ‘if you want to know who your friends are throw a party’ or ‘if you want to see who your friends are call them to get you out of jail.’ This brought a fake smile to her face but it didn’t last long. The morning came just like the one before and Julie did her toilet followed by coffee and a bagel with a smear of cream cheese. She checked her messages on the phone and her daughter had texted asking for money she said, ‘mom I need money’ and that was it. There was no salutation, no ‘how are you doing?’ no “I love you mom’ only a cold distant text showing her own daughter’s true motivation. That’s the way adults turned out to be, things they never wanted to become just hollow shells of their youth. The truth being Julie barely had enough to make ends meet, after the bills, there was little left to enjoy things she wanted to. The occasional movie but with a goddamn four dollar coke and saturated death bucket of popcorn plus the movie ticket it was close to thirty dollars. She budgeted that to once a month like her period which she still got and although she dreaded it ‘menopause’ gave her something to look forward to. The thing that hurt the most was knowing her ex-husband had found somebody new; some bimbo from the country club nearly twenty years younger than her. One thing that did help were her cats and it seemed she kept taking in strays from around the neighborhood. They kept her company on the nights in front of the television watching re-runs of the laugh track sitcoms. ‘ha ha ha’. Her world became empty and pretty soon she found herself barely able to get out of bed in the morning. One morning, she didn’t get up and go to work. Fuck them. Fuck it. Julie made her choice the night before. The sleeping pills were on the nightstand. The bottle of red wine. 1975. A good vintage Cabernet. That year stuck in her mind. Her schoolgirl days. Her first crush on Johnny Thompson. It didn’t last. None of them do but the sadness always does. She saw their sorry faces as she told them goodbye. It was easy. A deep sleep. The angels trumpet swoon. They found the body a week later. It was barely recognizable. The cats are only loyal to their stomachs. What could have been is wasted; beauty those left behind don’t understand. They only think of themselves and the fight for legal tender. The mad world keeps spinning out of control like its always done. Spin. Spin. Spin.

 

Bio:

Thom Young is a writer from Texas. His work has been in Poetry Quarterly, The Commonline Journal, 3am magazine, Crack the Spine, Word Riot, 48th Street Press, and many other places. A 2016 Pushcart Prize Nominee.

© Thom Young

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