Kailey just broke up with me. I say it in my head but it’s not real. Things were good I thought. Sure, there’d been a few bumps along the way but what relationship doesn’t have bumps? I step into the coffee shop like some kid high on weed for the first time. I think everyone here knows. How could they not? Don’t I look like a guy who just got his heart stepped on?
“I just don’t love you.” She had said during our last phone conversation. I’d called her after she kicked me out of her apartment half an hour ago. “C’mon, Nick. Would you prefer it if I just pretended I did?”
“Yes.” I said. “As long as you never broke character, that’d be fine.”
I order a latte. A vanilla latte. My first vanilla latte in seven and a half months. I can still remember that first time Kailey and I came here. She pulled out her wallet from her purse and asked what I wanted. I told her I wanted a vanilla latte. She rolled her eyes like I was the most boring person in the world. It was like we’d gone to the best bar in town and I’d only ordered water.
So I ordered a Hazelnut Macchiato with an extra shot of espresso. I didn’t know what a Macchiato was and I didn’t really like Hazelnuts, but I hoped that would be inventive enough for her. She seemed to approve.
I sip the latte and think back how I tried to wear my Speed Racer shirt when we went to meet her parents and she took me to a store to buy new clothes. She had me go to her hairdresser. She bought new sheets for my bed. Kailey seemed happy with me.
Friends said that I had changed. They were right. I had a girlfriend. I sat on a too-soft leather couch in the coffee shop and thought about how I had changed with Kailey. I started to cry so I went into the bathroom.
I washed my face and looked at myself in the mirror. And then I saw it. I was wearing that goddamn Speed Racer shirt. Kailey was right. She didn’t love me. She loved who I pretended to be. And then I went and broke character.
Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas
About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to doNaNoWriMoevery month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.
So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story. Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma calledThe Nearsighted Narwhal.