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  • Meranda Robey

The Answer

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Light penetrated my eyelids, and the flesh turned it orange. Blue veins stretched across my vision. I studied them, willing myself to go back to sleep, but the couch smelled like wet dog, piss, and a hint of old Kool-Aid. For a while, I lie there, unmoving. While the air was stale, it was also warm. So warm that I had slept with no blanket on all night and hardly realized it. There was someone in the kitchen. Whoever it was had heavy footsteps. They jostled some dishes in the sink, turned the tap on, then off again, and went quiet. Then, they cleared their throat. It was a deep, gruff sound. Andy. He started walking again. His footsteps grew louder and louder until they stopped beside me.

“What are you doing?” he said.

I jolted and my eyes flew open. Andy towered over me with a smirk on his face. His pale eyes were glassy and bloodshot.

“Sleeping,” I said.

He nudged me with his knee. My lip curled in disgust and I elbowed him. He laughed before returning to the kitchen where he moved more clutter around. I rolled over and slowly sat up, squinting as a sharp pain seared through my skull. On the coffee table in front of me, there was a half-empty bottle of Jack and five empty cans of Coke. Underneath the table, a toy truck and a stuffed bunny.

“Where are your kids?” I asked.

“In their rooms.”

He came back into the living room with a glass of whisky neat and leaned against the doorframe as he took a sip. I narrowed my eyes at him.

“It’s a little early for that, don’t you think?” I asked.

He shrugged and said, “Cures hangovers.”

I rolled my eyes. He was still wearing his clothes from yesterday. A ripped up, sleeveless shirt, and dark, grease-stained jeans. No socks. Like the rest of his body, his feet were covered with tattoos. The big one on his right foot was the matching one he got with his wife. Ex-wife.

“Remember that tattoo you showed me last night?” I asked.

“Which one?” he said.

“The one on the inside of your lip.”


“Were you serious when you said I was the only person who knew about it?”

Andy's lips pressed together. Then, he took another sip of his drink.

“Yeah,” he said.

My fist clenched.

“You swear?” I said.

He snorted and said, “Uh, yeah. I swear.”

I stared at him, unblinking. He stared back for a while, then pulled out his phone from his back pocket and started typing. The bottle on the table was half-empty, and the liquid inside was rich in both color and taste, like honey. There was probably another one in the liquor cabinet. He put his phone away.

“I need to talk to you about something,” I said. “And I would really like it if I got your expressed permission to speak freely.”

“Uh, okay,” he said. “You have my permission.”

“Well, I've kinda already told you, but...”

Outside, the mourning doves cooed. The sun slowly climbed above the horizon, igniting the autumn leaves. On the front lawn, icy dew drops clung to every blade of grass. I wanted to become one of them and melt into the ground.

“I want you. So badly. And I know you have feelings for me, too. You put your hand on my thigh last night, but nothing happened after that. I guess I just want to know why.”

He polished off the last of his drink and shrugged, then said, “I don’t know. I got tired, I guess.”

“That’s...valid. But you’ve had so many opportunities. I mean, I’ve driven you to work every day since you got your DUI and you haven’t even kissed me. I don’t expect it as compensation. I just think if you actually wanted to, you would have.”

“Why you gotta be like that?” he said.

“Like what? Admit it. If you actually wanted to, you would have.”

“Of course I want to.”

“Then why haven’t you?”

“I don’t know.”

I shook my head and said, “No. That doesn’t make any sense. There’s a reason, you’re just not telling me.”

Andy broke eye contact and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. When he looked up again, his face twisted in discomfort.

"Jessa and I are kind of hanging out again."

I recoiled, as if he had smacked me in the face.

"Your ex?" I said. "The one who divorced you? The one who cheated on you? The one who tried to run away from being a mother to your children?"

He stared down at the ice in his cup.

"After all the things you've said about her," I continued. "Why?"

He didn't answer at first, but I waited until he did.

"'Cause I'm an idiot," he said with a smile completely devoid of any amusement.

I huffed, "Yeah. Yeah, you are."

My head throbbed, but nothing compared to the throbbing in my chest. A sick feeling bubbled up in my stomach—it could have been symptoms of a hangover, but it felt like heartbreak. Heartbreak, for a man who never gave a shit about me.

“You know what?” I said, slipping on my shoes. “I think I got what I came here for.”

"What's that?" he asked.

"Goodbye, Andy."


I snatched the bottle of Jack from the table, but I knew it was going to take more than alcohol to numb my feelings.

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