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Chapter Two

Part 2

That evening I sat alone in my living room in front of the Yankees pre-game show, wallowing in self-pity. I was so angry that I had actually considered going out and scouring the town for a party and some random girl to hook up with, but I had never been a vindictive person. That just wasn’t me. So instead, I had resolved to repose on the sofa and think about where it had all gone wrong. I had even drawn all the curtains over the windows to get it as dark in the room as possible. All the better for vilifying my ex and berating myself for my blindness.

Of course, my glass-is-half-full mother had other ideas.

“Michael, you should really go out to that party Tyler is having,” she said, straightening up around me, picking up the empty chip bag and soda cans that were piling up on the coffee table. She had no idea Tyler’s dad was offering free beer. If she had, there was no way she would be prodding me to go. “Sitting here alone is not going to allay the pain of a breakup.”

She was right, of course. My mother has a certain acumen for matters of the heart. But that didn’t mean I had to listen to her. For the moment I needed to feel the anguish.

“One night, Mom,” I said. “Just let me be depressed, okay?”

“You don’t want to talk about it?” she asked hopefully.

I shook my head. For the moment I was taciturn. And besides, if I started talking to her about it, she might get a glimpse of my severe enmity toward Marcy, and I didn’t want her to see that. I’d talk to her about it when I’d had more time to cool off.

She smiled at me in a forlorn way, all my garbage gathered up in her arms. “I’ll order you a pizza. Sausage and peppers good?”

I managed to lift the corners of my mouth. “Thanks.”

As she left the room, Ian walked in. I guess my father had let him into the house. I was so out of it I hadn’t even heard the doorbell.

“Maybe you can cheer him up,” my mother told him as they passed each other in the doorway.

“You got it, Mrs. Riley,” he said. Then she was gone, and he eyed me dubiously. “Dude. You look like death.”

“That’s what happens when you find out that fidelity is too much to ask for from the girl you love,” I said acerbically.

Ian sighed. He dropped down onto the couch next to me. “I empathize, Mike. I do,” he said. “You remember how crushed I was when Becky broke up with me.”

I nodded and sat up a little. This was exactly what I needed—someone to validate the pit of despair I was mired in.

“And that’s why I’m here to tell you that this should be a day of celebration, my friend!” he cheered.

“What?” I blurted. This had just taken a weird turn.

“It’s imperative, Mike! The yoke is off! You’re free! You should be out there partying, having a good time!” he cheered, grasping my shoulder. “Now let’s go over to Tyler’s house and get ourselves hammered!”

I sighed. “You sound like my mom.”

“Your mom told you to get hammered?” he asked.

I smirked. “No. She wants me to go out though. She doesn’t want me to foster my depression.”

“Smart woman,” he said. “So let’s go. Sobriety is not the prescription for a night like this. Believe me.”

“Look, man, I appreciate your coming over here. Really,” I said. “But I’m not going out. You can if you want, but I just don’t feel like it.”

“You sure?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” I said decisively.

“That’s cool, brotha,” he said, sitting back as the Yankees took the field. “Team’s gonna play the same whether I’m here or there.”


“No problem, man,” he said. “But I really do think this breakup is a good thing. You got better stuff to spend your time on anyway.”

“I do?” I asked.

“Are you kidding?” he asked. “Football, school, improving your poker game . . .”

I whacked him in the arm, and he laughed, which made me crack my first real smile since that morning’s win. Okay. So maybe everything was going to be all right. Eventually.

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