She was remembered of him by Orville Redenbacher and Oreos. Fruit Roll-Ups and La Fin Du Monde. (What grown man eats Fruit Roll-Ups, she thought, putting a box in her cart.) His nicknames for her, her non-existent nicknames for him. The nicknames he gave himself. The big croc. My little tiger.
And this isn’t a story that alludes to the croc cheating on the tiger with a dingo, or about his insecurities on being shorter than the tiger. And this isn’t a story that alludes to mistakes made while intoxicated, further alluding in a dramatic flurry of adverbs that the mistakes were in fact glimpses of honesty in the otherwise fake relationship, actors repeating used lines and fucking as directed. This is a story that discusses lines left behind, on people, places, objects, scratches left on tables, bottles left in the recycling, traces. This story describes the thought process of a woman while shopping and reminded of an ex through his habits of consumption: Everything he bought seemed to have blue in the label – or, was it that every label had blue in it, or something electrifying, igniting the grocery store to feel like a place of neon salvation, the constant in your week of otherwise questionably meaningful habits?
This story focuses on the difficulty of erasing smudges from a mind as you leave someone. This story emphasizes how the tiger left her croc because she believed that she could predict everything he would say, or what member of his body he would hold, if asked to entertain a particular line of questioning, while waking up, turning over in bed, or at dinner with strangers. This is the point of the writing where everything is debunked and a line of some truth is injected – something punchy, literary, inspirational, before a stark conclusion. Getting to know people means creating mental lists of things said, or actions you find out they did, or what they wanted you to find out, or that they performed in front of you, or objects they owned, as you etched a character-sketch. Language makes it impossible for anybody to know everything about anyone.