Where were you last night Ricky? Do I even have to ask? Do I even want to know? God damn it, Ricky. God damn it. You would think all this worrying would make me numb but every time this happens I worry just as much as the time before. I sit here on this ruined couch staring out at our empty street and I cry and I have headaches and I have stomach aches and god damn it Ricky I must have a stomach ulcer or something because I’ve been throwing up every day for the past fucking week and sometimes it hurts so bad I just lay on the bathroom floor and moan but nothing comes out, my mouth is just open and I think it’s the worry it needs to get out somehow  there’s more than my body can take like I’m saturated or something damn it Ricky damn it.

I really should go see a doctor shouldn’t I Ricky but I can’t I don’t have time to make an appointment because I work ten hours a day every day every week every month. It’s you who pretends to be finding a job but instead you just go get drunk and text me at five o’clock saying you’ll be late to dinner but what that means in your garbled logic is that you had some wings at the bar with the unemployment money that should be going for our groceries and that in reality you’re going to drive around with the other jobless bums. Who knows what time you crawled in the door last night I wouldn’t know I was slumped in the bathroom with my face in the toilet.

I know you I married you didn’t I? I’m writing this at six thirty in the morning but I bet you won’t read it until about one in the afternoon after you’ve dragged the sheets off your gut gotten up taken a leak and walked to the fridge. I bet you expected to find some frozen bacon here on this plate didn’t you no instead you found this and I bet you’re going to scratch your head read this and toss it in the trash. Your mind won’t take the thirty seconds to consider anything you just read instead your focus will be finding something to stuff in your mouth. You won’t notice how obvious it is that my hand is shaking involuntarily as I write this you won’t notice the tear stains over the first paragraph you won’t notice any of it because you don’t care Ricky you don’t care. You don’t care Ricky but I guess I do because I’m going to come home tonight at six to an empty house and I’m going to make dinner hoping you come home sober sometime before midnight and I’m going to sit at the window press my face against the glass and cry and I’m going to go upstairs and spend the night in the bathroom. The floor used to feel like ice but now it’s as warm as fever. It used to smell like chlorine I know you hate the smell of chlorine but now it smells like vomit do you think you’ll like that better?


I threw up blood today, Ricky. I threw up blood. I can’t believe this is happening to me I’m watching my body tear itself apart, and I can’t do anything about it. I am slowly dying Ricky and you know what I care—I just can’t do anything about it but you’re slowly dying too. You’re slowly dying of alcoholism, self-pity and disease—a disease I call degenerative conscience syndrome. You’re killing yourself and you’re killing me you could stop but you won’t Ricky you won’t you’re killing yourself of your own free will and I’m dying with no choice in the matter. This isn’t fair Ricky this isn’t fair. I want out of this prison, Ricky; you’re the bars you’re the walls you’re the gray tease of light peeking through the window, you’re this toilet that reeks of vomit. You’re the reason I’m always vomiting my body wants to be rid of you Ricky but you won’t leave it alone you won’t leave me alone you’re never going to leave me alone god damn it Ricky. I can’t even stand the thought of you the thought of you is making my stomach toss and turn I can barely feel it anymore.

I can’t keep writing, I can barely hold this pen…


I don’t know where I’m getting the energy or the willpower to write these notes every day, Ricky. Why do I want to do this so badly? I think it’s because scribbling these down has moved me closer to sanity. The people at work aren’t looking at me funny anymore, and my boss isn’t talking about cutting my hours. Somehow, writing these things is making my life slightly more normal.

Normal. Do you remember when our lives were normal? I remember, Ricky, four years ago when we got married. I would say our lives were more than normal. We were in love Ricky, how the hell I don’t know, but we were. I had the job at the Maple Grove Daily and you had the job as the paralegal at Fitzsimons & Son’s and it was like a dream come true. My parents were so proud of me Ricky. They were proud of you. What happened to you? What happened?

You loved that job almost as much as you loved me. You had such a zest for it. Where did it all go, Ricky? Our little dream bubble, it fizzed out like a dud firecracker. I just want it back, Ricky. I want it back. I want you coming home from work at six o’clock back, I want us eating dinner together back, giggling at each other from across the table. I want us watching the news back and I want us having sex back. Ricky you were so wonderful in bed, I’ve never felt love like that before, but where did it go? Where did it go? Are you hiding it from me? Are you?

I need to keep myself under control. If I think too much about those times I might miss them too much. The only bad part was the kid. We couldn’t have the fucking kid, Ricky, and it wasn’t my fault. IT WASN’T MY FAULT. What do you think; I would want to have three miscarriages? Like I’ve said a thousand times before, if God had wanted us to have a baby, we would have had a fucking baby.

By now we would have had enough money for the adoption. The agency said after two years of monthly savings, we could have the money to adopt a little baby boy, just like you had wanted. But you didn’t want that. You didn’t want to adopt. Back then, I sympathized with you because I foolishly thought that all you wanted was to father a child. I thought it was something innocent. But now I realize. You wanted your blood carried on—it had to be yours and yours only.

In the end, it all went to shit, Ricky. Don’t you realize? If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s yours! I’ve been the one working so much. You’re the one who was so obsessed with having a son. Why Ricky? You could have had a pitch and catch with a daughter too, believe it or not. She could have been on the field hockey and basketball teams, for Christ’s sake, but you insisted on a boy who would be a high school all-American in baseball basketball and football. I should have seen it then. You were delusional back then too. Did you really think that just because you would raise a boy, he would turn out to be an amazing athlete? Didn’t you want anything else for your own child? And what the hell was wrong with a girl?

Thank God we didn’t have that kid, Ricky. I don’t know what I would do, with that kind of responsibility. You’re a fucking waste of time and I can barely hold myself together once I walk in the door. What would a kid do, Ricky? How would we be able to support one? Not financially but emotionally? We’re a train wreck… what the hell am I talking about, you’re the train wreck, I’m just the passenger caught underneath the wreckage. I’m being crushed, Ricky. The baby would have been dead by now anyway.


I’ve been thinking about it since yesterday, Ricky, and now it seems to make sense. I couldn’t give you the all-star boy you wanted, so you go to that secretary at work and fuck her to see if it works out. What were you thinking, Ricky? At first I thought it was because you downright wanted to bang her, but in retrospect that wasn’t the case.

Is that what I was for, Ricky? You married me, fell in love with me and started a life with me just so I could produce a son for you? Was I just a pawn in the plan? You figured you would play by the rules to get what you wanted, not do anything drastic. But then when that didn’t work out for you, plan B was throwing the rules out the window, huh? I loved you Ricky I loved you so much! All my life I grew up being told to watch out for men, all my life my life taught me with each boy I dated, from high school until I met you, that men were selfish and greedy. I had to be wary with them. But you disarmed me, you seduced me into a wonderful relationship that I now realize was all an act. You were doing it for yourself. You weren’t doing it because you wanted to have sex with a girl and you weren’t doing it for a housewife you were doing it because it fit into your plan, your plan to get what you wanted. You were hiding your horns with your halo.

So why not get a girl knocked up in college and raise the kid yourself? That’s not exactly breaking the rules nowadays; a lot of people do it. Why would you go through all the trouble? Was it because getting married was actually part of your plan anyway? That makes me even more pathetic. I dedicate my heart to you, my life to you, so you can check off one more box on the list? You are so disgusting. I’ve wasted the past six years of my life on you; I’ve devoted myself to you while you only devoted you to yourself and what you wanted. You are so disgusting and I’m even worse for falling for it, but I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t help it.


I haven’t seen you since Sunday, Ricky. Please come home tonight. Please come home early. I don’t want to have to talk to you through notes scribbled on paper. I don’t even know if you’re reading them. Sometimes I find them in the trash, sometimes I find them where I left them. Are you looking at them?  Tomorrow’s Saturday. I only work until one. Maybe I’ll be able to finally see you for the first time in a week. Maybe we can talk.

I feel like if we sit down and have a conversation it will help me more than these notes are. They’re helping; I only feel like shit when I come home. It’s like I release a little bit of the stress and the worry and the regret and the pain into this ink and this paper. But it could be better. If writing about this helps me, won’t talking about it help me even more? Maybe it can help you too Ricky. Maybe we can love each other again.

What am I thinking? That’s bullshit and I know it. You’re a sad empty shell of what you used to be and you don’t care. You didn’t get what you wanted so you just gave up and let everything go to shit. You didn’t get your son you didn’t get your job you lost your mistress and now you lost your wife. I’m still here, only God knows why. But I’m not really here. I’m almost as broken as you are. Almost. I’m still hanging on with some sort of will, while you completely lost your drive to live. And it isn’t even my fault. It’s you who did this to yourself and to me; I was innocent and now I’m suffering because of it. This is entirely your fault.

If you wouldn’t have wanted that perfect son so badly you wouldn’t have gone and fucked the secretary. That’s what started it all. I’m thinking clearly now with my hatred and I can see it. I couldn’t give you your son, but that was part of the plan. So go fuck the secretary with the big boobs to get your son, and on top of that cross off the goal of having a mistress too. Are you crazy? Are you fucking crazy? I wasn’t going to have that baby, so how the hell would that look normal at all to have some other woman do it?

She had big tits but she sure didn’t have a big brain because she went and told the other secretaries after three months and that’s what got you in the end. I’m not dumb. I know all this because she e-mailed me at work one day a few months ago explaining it all. She told me everything. She told me what you two did. She told me about your “lunch breaks”. She told me about all the things you said to her. Do you think a bitch like that could give you the son you wanted?

Screwing her certainly didn’t get you that promotion either. You have your J.D. and couldn’t find a position as a lawyer, but that paralegal job made just as much as any other lawyer in the city. You told me you would have a promotion in no time. After a couple years I didn’t say anything because you were making so much money it didn’t matter anyway. You had a good position, good hours and as long you didn’t do anything stupid you had decent job security. We were living the dream, Ricky. Bringing in over ten grand a month we could live without worry, with ease. We could let the material things slip by us. But your entire life wasn’t about being happy with me. That came second to being happy with yourself.

What you wanted more was that job as a partner in the firm because nothing less was good enough for you. It doesn’t look perfect and ideal to be a lowly paralegal does it? It doesn’t fit into the plan. Well you screwing that secretary certainly didn’t help your case because some of the partners didn’t like your ambition to begin with and your little tryst didn’t help. Yeah, she told me that the partners didn’t like your ideas. She told me they thought you were getting too big for your britches.

You have no idea what you losing that job did to me, Ricky. You didn’t even consider me. I was there because you thought I should have been there. I was no more important to you than that bitch! Sometimes I look back on my life and I wonder where I went wrong. Was it meeting you? Dating you? Marrying you? Deciding to stay with you after you cheated on me and lost your job? Even now, when all you are is a jobless bum, I can’t quite leave you. Ricky. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?


Why didn’t you talk to me, Ricky? I was so happy to see you. At first anyway. But then when you didn’t answer… was that glass of milk really more interesting than I was? I only got angry because you wouldn’t answer me. I hope the glass didn’t cut your hand. At the time I was begging God it would make you bleed, but now I regret it. I regret it like so many other things. Don’t you regret not talking to me?

I made myself look pretty again for you. I put on that make up your mother gave me last Christmas and the Red Door perfume you like so much. I only do it on Saturdays and Sundays, just because I hope, from somewhere so deep inside I’m not sure I can trust it, that you will fall in love with me again. That all this can go away. Most couples wouldn’t be phased by this. But we aren’t most couples, are we, Ricky? You’re a pathological egoist and I’m some masochistic fly willingly trapped in your web. You don’t even tend it anymore and it’s falling apart but I don’t know how to get away from it and I don’t think I could if I tried. I used to be devoted to you and I still am but I’m devoted to hating you and hoping I can stop one day because I have no other option.

When you lost your job I was bound to lose mine. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, it was inevitable. Like a line of dominoes. You were so sure of yourself; you thought you had everything under control. That’s what hit you the worst. Failing your goals and not completing your plan were bad enough, but finding out that you didn’t actually control every aspect of your life and everyone else’s life was the last straw. That’s why you’re the ghost you are today.

Sometimes I wonder what you would be like if you had gotten what you wanted. If everything had worked out. Would you be the same? I hope so. Our lives would have been better. Your life would have been better, and that would be the bottom line. But your reach exceeded your grasp, as they say, and everything backfired.

Your little sex buddy told me about it. From the time you started at the firm, you were moseying up to the chairman. She said that only partners were allowed to talk to the chairman without an appointment. You thought what you were doing was getting you points, making connections in the right places. She said that they said the only reason they didn’t fire you right away was because you were a good paralegal. You were the best paralegal.

But when we couldn’t have the kid, you didn’t like the idea of adoption so you went and screwed the secretary and then you talk to too many partners about giving a paralegal associate status. She said that you would mention it every once in a while, at lunch. They would smile at you and tell you that it rarely happened, and had never happened at Fitzsimons & Son’s. People laughed at you behind your back. But they still thought you were a good guy. Just confused and a little too ambitious, but a good guy.

Then you tried to take the lead on the Silverstone & Co. case at the end of the year. The associate working on it didn’t like that. The secretary said that word around the firm was if you tried something like that again, they would fire you. They got you with the affair, but really, you losing your job was inevitable, because since you didn’t get what you wanted the first time, you would try again. You’re a persistent son of a bitch. There wasn’t anything in between you and your goal but you. You were your own biggest problem; you tripped over yourself because you were obsessed with your shadow and you weren’t as amazing as you thought you were.

God, I’m so angry right now. I’m so angry I can barely write, I can barely hold this pen. I can feel my stomach again, moving. I have to go to the bathroom.


I followed you the other day, Ricky. I took a half day at work and came home just in time to see you leave. I followed you on the bus. I sat four seats behind you. You sat next to the window but you didn’t look out. Not once. Why wouldn’t you glance out the window for a second? Are you that lazy? Does life mean that little to you?

I thought you were still going to the bars and getting drunk. But then when you got off at the park and sat on the bench, I was confused. I thought eventually you’d go take a bus to a bar or to a strip club or something, but you just sat on the bench and stared. You were almost a statue. You just looked at the playground, at all the kids running around. Thank goodness you were too far for the parents to notice you. You stayed there for hours.


I’ve followed you for the past two days, and you do the same thing. Are you really that empty? Did all this really drain you that much? Is there anything left?

You have no one to blame but yourself. You were the one who had to go get that secretary fired after she didn’t give you a son either. Just because you were unhappy with her you made something up to get her fired, as punishment? You are a sick and stupid excuse for a human being. After they laid her off, her friends ratted you out to the partners. They were waiting for an opportunity anyway. Your own ambition turned around and shot you in the face. You deserved everything that happened to you.

I didn’t deserve it though. You took me down with you, you horrible fuck. When you came home and told me you lost your job, I cried for you. I wept, Ricky. I could barely drive to work the next day because the man I loved, the man I thought was the one truth in my world, had been devastated. I thought you were going to get another job. I thought you were going to hit the streets, look on the internet, check the classifieds.

But then I got that phone call from one of the secretaries at the firm. When you were out, that first night you were unemployed, three of them came to house and told me what happened. They told me everything your little friend told them, and they told me to watch out for you. They saw what you were, before I saw. I had known you for six years, but they worked with you for two years and they figured you out sooner than I did.

They left the house and gave me their numbers, if I wanted support. I seriously thought about calling those three women who I didn’t even know. That is so pathetic, but what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t call my mother, because the shame was too much. I had no real girl friends that I could turn to. I needed an outlet. Instead, I just went to the window, waiting for you to come home, waiting for you to tell me everything was ok and those women were lying. I wept because it was either true or if it wasn’t I couldn’t believe people would ever slander you, how dare anyone slander such a great person like you?

And when you came home at two AM, you didn’t do anything to make me feel better. You looked at me with that new blank stare and told me it was true, and I could leave if I wanted to. You looked right at me when you said it. You didn’t sound scared, you didn’t sound ashamed, you didn’t sound sorry. You didn’t sound anything. You just said it and went to bed. I slept on the floor that night because I was too scared to get into bed with you. What the hell was I supposed to do? My world had just been shattered and I was lost. I thought that when I woke up in the morning it would all have been a nightmare. But nightmares are only bad because they’re not real. It’s worse when the nightmare is a reality. I prayed before I fell asleep, I cried and I prayed, I begged God that it wouldn’t be this way.

But when I woke up a few hours later, all I had was the plain reality of the wet pillow, the sagging sofa, the empty bed and the chairs strewn across the room from my pathetic rage. I sat up and looked around at the ignorant world around me. Those walls we had painted together. The furniture we bought. My grandmother’s antiques sitting in the cabinet. All of it used to spark a warm glow in my stomach, give me a sense of home and security. Now they were just there. They didn’t care about what had happened to me. The hundred year old plates didn’t move. The coffee table’s beautiful wooden legs didn’t smile at me. They were so inanimate. I felt so alone. Ricky, you abandoned me. I was stranded.

I got to work late that day. I remember, because I had to pull over to the side of the road three times to throw up. I got there and my editor asked me what was wrong. That was when I realized I hadn’t showered or put on any makeup and I was still wearing my clothes from the day before. I had been walking around in a daze, and when I stood there in the office with people staring at me I had this feeling of nakedness dropped on me like an anvil. I felt nude, exposed, like Adam and eve after they ate the apple. I was starting to cry. I needed to sit down. I asked my boss for the day off. She gave it to me.

I went home and cried, and vomited, and barely got any sleep. I went to work the next day at least showered and made up, but my boss could still tell something was wrong. I had to run to the bathroom twice through the course of the day and I barely got any work done. I couldn’t concentrate. I kept thinking about where you were, what you were doing. I couldn’t even swallow the fact that you had slept with another woman. I was stunned and confused at the fact that I had barely seen you for the past 48 hours. I sat at my desk, staring at the computer screen for hours on end, clutching the tears with my eyes and begging them not to leave. The clouds had disappeared underneath my feet and I had fallen straight through into hell’s searing flames.

My boss tried to talk to me. She said I should see a psychiatrist. I took the card she gave me but didn’t do anything. After a few more days, she made the appointment for me. She told me if I didn’t go, I would be fired. But how could a psychiatrist help me? I didn’t care, at the time. What was my world worth if you weren’t in it? When she was told I never showed for the appointment she fired me. At the time, I could have cared less.

When I got home I just cried for a few days and threw up in the bathroom. You came and went when I was asleep and didn’t even bother saying hello to me. I cried and vomited for a week, until I noticed that we were running out of food and running out of money in the bank. I took from our savings without a second thought. I bet you haven’t even noticed.

But one morning I woke up and looked in the mirror. I saw myself as I had seen myself for weeks;  disheveled, red-eyed with stained skin. It didn’t affect me. I didn’t care. But when I went downstairs to look out the window, I realized how dirty the house was. I hadn’t cleaned it for weeks. For some reason, this really bothered me. So I vacuumed, dusted, mopped the floors and scrubbed the toilets all day. When I was finished I realized I hadn’t cried or thrown up. It felt good.

I cleaned for a week. That was when it hit me that we would have to leave the house soon if one of us didn’t get a job. So I looked around, like you should have been. I hadn’t bothered to collect unemployment, and I thought I would try to get a job before I resorted to that. You at least had the money coming in, but I never saw one penny of it. Why share any with me when I didn’t matter anymore?

I finally found the job at Kinko’s. It sucked and I was way over qualified but I took it anyway. I thought it would help continue getting me better but it didn’t, because when I got home every night at six I was exhausted. I had no energy. So I reverted back to my old self at night, weeping in the window and upchucking into the toilet. Waiting for you to come home. Waiting for you to snap back. Waiting for you.

I only got worse. And I stayed worse for months, until I started writing these notes. But thinking about all this so directly is getting me upset again. I can feel the pain in my stomach. Ricky you’re a bastard and a rotten son of a bitch, you know that? I hate you but I can’t let you go. I vomit you up but you’re still there. You can’t regurgitate someone out of your mind, much less out of your heart; I wish I could…I wish I could so badly.


I finally went to the doctor, Ricky. I took another sick day off but this time I didn’t follow you, I went right to the doctor and she was really scared for me. Her fear was in the air, it was tangible. It was there, like a dust or a powder, and it was landing on my body and seeping through my skin, collecting around my organs and bones. Now it’s spilling into my bloodstream and I can feel it coursing through my veins. I’m scared again, Ricky. I’m terrified like I was when this first started happening. I became so used to it that I forgot about it. It was just one more thing I had to do before I could sleep.

But the doctor told me that I have peptic stomach ulcers, and since I’ve had them for months she says I might have developed something called “peritonitis” which is when the ulcer opens into the rest of the body and an infection spreads. She says it can cause death. They ran tests and I’m going back tomorrow morning.

There we go. I can see them digging my grave now. They’ve just started at the top; the dirt is fresh and loose. The patches of grass are strewn around their feet. They don’t know who I am and they don’t care. They get paid to dig a six foot hole so I can be dropped in. I don’t want to wind up in that hole, Ricky. It’s probably for the best, but not if things get better. They can still get better.  I’m convinced. I don’t want to die. I want us to love each other again. I want you to stop being the selfish prick you were I want you to stop being the soulless shell you are and I want you to love me, I want you to smile, I want you to look at me and acknowledge my presence the two times a week we’re in the house together. Ricky! I want you to talk to me, to tell me everything is going to be ok. Ricky! I want you to prove me wrong, why can’t you do that? You did it once, but you were just lying. Ricky! I want you to stop lying and to stop dying too, I don’t want us to die I want this all to go away I want you to find a job and I want to go back to my job and I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die I don’t want to die.

 —Carlos Chism