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Long ago, I read this on a gnarled concrete sidewalk:

LOVE CONQUERS DEATH

But six years ago today, every feeling I had for you was mercifully exorcised from me—in an instant.

"I'm feeling thin, Deidre," I said.

You rolled your eyes disgustedly and threw down your sandwich. And after that splash of metallic-tasting chicken salad and pale shredded lettuce you tromped out the front door like a spoilt child, incensed by words you couldn't even understand.

Out in the car, you waited for me between fogged windows, your head aimed dead ahead, your eyes narrow and locked. I sat down in the driver's seat, preparing to drive us home again amid your cold silence.

Or perhaps it would be one of those times when you opened your wicked little mouth and filled the air with cliché challenges liberally peppered with profanity.

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Who the fuck do I think I am? What the fuck do I think I'm doing?

I asked myself the same questions sometimes, but I allowed myself the luxury of a moment to reply.

Once, when we were all in the desert dropping acid, while you were off behind an old wooden shack impaled on some Marine's cock, another one of these men sat next to me on the iron bench. He stared into my eyes for a minute or so, and a minute later silently wept. Then he reached out from his steely, martial shell and took my hand in his and his eyes begged my forgiveness. He squeezed my hand once for each one of your faint, empassioned cries.

These friends of ours that you let fuck you when I was out of town or out of the house or out of the room, even they sometimes asked better questions. When you threw one of your tantrums over dinner and skulked off, slamming the hall door, the bedroom door, and then the bathroom door, I made a clumsy excuse and, smiling, cleared the table.

But in the car, as I took them back to their barracks, they asked me, "Why is your wife such a bitch?"

"Yeah, man, why do you put up with that shit?"

I couldn't bear to tell them the one and only word that could have answered that question. Instead, I sat there dumb, amazed that I had more respect for a word than I had for you.

Six years later, though, the curse remains.

If a love can leave that quickly—that completely—how can I ever in good conscience promise it to anyone ever again?

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