After Jimmy

New Fiction
Illustration by Peter Dayton


CONGRATULATE ME. I DID IT! I broke up with Jimmy. . . . Last night after the Bartoshucks’ dinner party. . . . They served risotto. But did you hear me? I said I broke up with Jimmy. Promise you won’t say anything to him. He thinks we’re still good. . . . No. No, I could never tell him. You know how I hate confrontation. It’s so cruel. Couldn’t I just be mean to him ’til he gets the message? . . . I agree. Should be a side dish, not an entrée, since isn’t it basically just Rice-a-Roni. As far as breaking up with Jimmy, it was definitely mutual, even if he doesn’t realize it yet. . . . Right now? Out somewhere. He told me where when he left, but I forgot to listen. Thing is, Jimmy could never cope with being alone. Without me, he would hang out with friends and go to parties and think he was having a great time, never understanding how lonely he was. It would kill him, at least subconsciously, which is why I want to wait at least until the doctor tells him whether he absolutely needs surgery on his leg.  Face it — nobody wants to lose me and a limb at the same time.  Hold on. I have another call. . . . That was Jimmy. The anniversary of the first time we went out to eat and didn’t split the check is tomorrow night and he made reservations at the new Inuit raw place in Chelsea I’m dying to try. It’s sad. He doesn’t have a clue we’re finished  Men! . . . Why in the world would I have Mindy Bartoshuck’s risotto recipe? For all I know, it wasn’t even risotto. The important question is should I wear my new jeans with rivets tomorrow night or the green leather skirt with the lace hem? . . . I said Jimmy and I’d gone our separate ways, I didn’t say I don’t want him to desire me. Hold on. Probably Mr. Needy again. . . . Was my mother. She says there are four reasons I depress her. #1. No job.  #2. No chin. #3. No guest room.  She can’t remember the fourth one.  Hold on. Mother again. . . . . She remembered. It depresses her that everyone’s married except me. She said, “I’ve been thinking about it all day and I think you should get married this weekend. Before Jimmy drops you. I have a dress that would work and I can cancel my Saturday night plans. Daddy’s worried, too.” You know what I said? “Mom, Serena is playing Navarro Saturday night. Case closed.” Shit, what if my mother’s right? . . . No, not about my father. Am I an idiot to dump Jimmy? Not that I didn’t give it my best shot. Went to a couples counselor, can you stand it? . . . Are you crazy? You think I’d go to couples counseling with Jimmy?  The only way I can talk about him is behind his back. . . . I got the therapist’s name from the Bartoshucks. Same one they used. She was actually very smart, considering what a lousy marriage the Bartoshucks have. She said that when I’m part of a couple, I share too much of myself. Meaning, I guess, that it’s insane to tell Jimmy about our breakup, which, if you think about it, is none of his business.  Also, if he knew we’d broken up, it would rule out any chance of reconciliation. . . . Oh, God. Mother again. . . . She’s against hyphenated names. . . . The Bartoshucks? Oh, you know — the usual problems. They don’t pay attention to each other, they don’t share, they don’t communicate. Plus, Mindy Bartoshuck’s taking bridge lessons.  Must mean she’s having a thing with somebody. . . . Me? I am 100 percent not with anybody else! In fact — and I can only confess this to you — how can a girl not be fond of Jimmy, sort of? Obviously, he’s not my type, but I don’t like my type. Last night, we were doing it and — no, after the Bartoshuck’s dinner party. Anyway, I was just lying there and I felt so close to him that I almost told him we’d broken up. He was asleep, though. He kind of had his arm around me and I have to say, for a second, I actually wished we were still together. . . . What are you talking about? Don’t be ridiculous. Lots of people don’t know about his foot. . . . His other foot. . . . Of course, you shouldn’t feel left out. You and Bob are two of our best friends. Speaking of which, have to admit I am really afraid that now that Jimmy and I are no longer an item, he and I won’t be friends and I won’t still have health insurance, but knock on wood. . . . Sure. You can tell me anything. What? . . .You’re kidding? You must be kidding. You’re taking cooking classes? With Jimmy? . . . My Jimmy? What exactly is it you’re cooking together? . . . Is there something I should know about? If there is, don’t tell me.

Article Tags : literature
Patricia Marx

Patricia Marx is the author of several books, including the novels Starting from Happy and Him Her Him Again the End of Him (both of which were finalists for the Thurber prize). Her latest book, Let’s Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties, was published in 2015 when she was also awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. A former writer for Saturday Night Live and the first woman elected to the Harvard Lampoon, she writes for The New Yorker.