Tonight, we’re talking exes and it’s my turn. I run down the list:


Mary plucked cubes from the bottoms of iced coffee cups and swallowed them whole, insisting it helped her singing voice.


Erica kept a book of matches taped to her bedroom wall, one lone match left, next to a post-it that read “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.”


After the first night Monica and I spent together, she cooked breakfast and I choked down eggs, cooked too quickly and in oil, the whites bubbled, yolk chalky. “I avoid butter,” she said. “Been trying to cook vegan whenever possible.” I didn’t point out that the eggs were eggs.


Tina thought the mildew on her shower curtains was slowly killing her.


My memories of Rita are blurry. Something about once ducking into a church to avoid a sudden downpour. A walk along a beach in winter. Freckled shoulders. Things being easy until they weren’t.


Jessica could only fall asleep on couches.


Sandra liked to tell people their saints, carried around a small dictionary of them in her purse. “Oh, Paula,” she said the first time she met my sister, on the night of her rehearsal dinner, flipping to the proper page. “Patroness of widows. How about that?” Even though my name isn't Jude, she often told me that I could have been the patron saint of lost causes.


With each, I recall the versions of myself I was with each, picture them all stacked together within me like toddlers in a trenchcoat. And I think about the little bit of you that’s made me, too, the version of me sitting here beside you on the couch, my knee inching towards yours.



* Covering Lou Bega's hit cover of the song "Mambo No. 5" by Pérez Prado


Andrew Cothren is a writer and artist whose work has appeared or is upcoming in The Atlas Review, Drunken Boat, Eleven Eleven, and Redivider. He received his MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Currently, he resides in Brooklyn, New York.