by Jessica Howarth

I decide that we will break up at The Rodeo—it’s a western-themed restaurant on Shop Street. The specials board outside is advertising Cajun burgers and chips for 4.50.

He sits across from me, staring at his food. There is a giant painting of John Wayne on the wall behind our table and his gun is pointed right at our heads. I look up at John Wayne and tell him that I cringe when he touches me. I say, I’m sorry, it’s all my fault. I eat and speak at the same time, dipping my fries into a dish of mayonnaise.

We barely spoke in the two days between Dublin and Galway. He thinks that I’m angry about what happened at the party—he got drunk and embarrassed me in front of my friends, then made me sleep downstairs on the couch. And I am angry, not entirely about that. Just most of the time. On the late-night bus ride to Galway I could not abide the sensation of his shoulder against mine. I moved to a seat across the aisle, and we travelled through the pitch-black Irish midlands in that silence.

Let’s go for dinner, I said today. We barely have any money left. OK, he said. There is a restaurant back home in Montreal where we used to go to communicate bad news. We have broken up twice before; I find that it’s best to do this kind of thing in a public place. We would go to this restaurant—the one back home—and sit in a booth by the window that overlooks the parking lot, and order fried chicken. I would tell him that I was going away somewhere, that I didn’t love him as much as he loved me. He would never really understand, would never finish his food. I’d have to remind him to eat, tell him that the food wouldn’t taste as good later if he brought it home in a doggy bag. I hear myself telling him this now, or telling John Wayne at least. I cannot tolerate wasted food or emotional states that deny the appetite.

I say, I should never have asked you to come to Ireland, and then I reach over to take a sip of his Coke.


Jessica Howarth is gainfully employed at McGill Queen's University Press and recently edited Commotions: New Writing from the Oscar Wilde Centre. She is braveshe skis down hills, scrapes out mold from the fridge and turns her heels on the bony exoskeletons of centipedes while others squeal mold! and centipedes!

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