Doubtful the landlord knows you’re taking down walls.

Photo by Ian Talmacs / Unsplash

by Maud Lavin

We break up. I stay in the nerdy, small, far-East Village apartment with my computer, my desk, and what used to be our bed. You rent a new place in central West Village, and are already remodeling it.

Doubtful the landlord knows you’re taking down walls.

It’s nighttime. I’m 5’6”, unathletic, and a woman, you 6’4” and a man who played
football in high school. We have things to discuss. I’m full of longing and anger. We talk at your place. I am furious.

Short of words for once, I pick up your sledgehammer and wham into your boxes of books. Wow, ahhh. Again and again. The cardboard crumples. Big dents show in the boxes. You step back. I never do this. I didn’t know I knew how to wield a sledgehammer. BASH! You’re yelling at me to stop.

Books used to be holy to us. My first book, in fact, just came out—right before you broke up with me.

I put down the sledgehammer and leave, feeling good for a minute. Next evening, I hear this: at the glossy magazine where you’re an editor, you performed the story, carping about how crazy I was. Me, the mad one, you the victim.

As if in a dream though, the story was taken over: A woman, younger and lower in the magazine hierarchy than you, a tall woman with long red hair, annoyed at your telling, announced to you, to all those listening, “Well, good for her.”

Pushcart nominee Maud Lavin has published recently in Heimat Review, Roi Faineant, JAKE, and Red Ogre Review, and earlier in The Nation, Harper's Bazaar, and elsewhere. One of her books, CUT WITH THE KITCHEN KNIFE, was named a New York Times Notable Book. She lives in Chicago, where she edits, writes, and runs the READINGS series at Printers Row Wine.