This is a short story I wrote in the summer of 2006. I had just gone through a bad breakup with an ex-girlfriend right before Easter. Over the next few months though a lot had changed between us and I was considering giving it another go. This short story acted almost as me justifying my future actions for forgiving her and getting back together with her. It's not perfect: I think I mix up tenses a few times, and I'm pretty sure my without-notice switching from internal monologue to general narration doesn't help anyone understand what's going on. It's still one of my favorite short stories. And, even though the rekindled relationship ended again for good only a few months later, it may have been worth it just for the inspiration for this story. Hope you guys like it.
On The Third Day
By Billy Florio
“He got up and ran out of the room,” my Uncle said. “He hates those Zombie movies.”
Granted this is Easter Sunday, and granted celebrating the recounts of family members activities who have been absent for most of the year is an Alziano Family Tradition, but this Easter dinner I really didn’t care to hear about the lost adventures of my five-year-old cousin.
My parents think I’ve been lost for the last two years. How happy were they when they heard the news.
My Uncle goes on about how raising a son isn’t as easy as he thought it was gonna be. Not in those words—that was my own translation. No one else would understand how I get from point A to point B. No one else realizes there’s been a change.
Anastasia. Ani. I miss Ani.
It was only two weeks ago. She did something I couldn’t forgive. I cut the reigns. She hurt me. More than anyone else. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to think about her. Easter is suppose to be a happy occasion, when the Easter Bunny comes hoping along bringing chocolates, Easter eggs, goodwill towards men and stuff like that.
Well that’s not right either. What do you want? I haven’t been five in 19 years.
Yet, hearing about my Uncle’s miscommunications with his son keeps bringing me back to Ani.
My parents hated Ani. They always hated her. They didn’t approve of her Greek Orthodox heritage. They didn’t like the fact she celebrated Easter two weeks after we did or something. I don’t remember, but they were always upset with her. Since I brought her here for Easter that first time and she didn’t seem as overjoyed as they did. They didn’t understand her Easter Bunny doesn’t visit her for another fortnight. She’ll be excited then.
Either way, they were bouncing off the cathedral ceiling when they heard we broke up.
I told them three days after. My mom yelled out “my Son’s returned!” Honestly, did they think that helped? Did they think I wanted their ridicule? I made the hardest decision of my life breaking up with her. They never understood that I loved her. They didn’t think their child could love anything but them. Ha. I’m not even too sure of that last part.
Finally my Uncle finished. You’d think the kid had won a Peabody or something the way he speaks about him. Wait, what is a Peabody even given for? Does anybody know any more?
“Luke has some good news too.”
Is she serious? She is not going to say that is she?
“Wait, what are you doing? What are you going to talk about? That’s not good news!”
“Luke, I was going to mention that you got inducted into the Graduate Student Honor Society.”
Oh. Yeah, that.
“But yes, that’s good news as well, also Luke broke up with Anastasia.”
God damn it.
So now the cats out of the bag and everyone looks happy. Why did I even bother to try and stop her? She was probably on the phone with everyone telling them the “good news” right after I finished telling her. Right after I smashed all Ani's photos and ripped all her gifts. I knew that’s what would really hurt her. Not the breakup, not telling her I hate her, not even hitting her. No, none of that would have affected Ani. The only thing that would is destroying the things she gave me. The symbols of her. The things she hoped I worshiped. The things she forced me to display as the symbols of us. That’s one of the things that pissed me off about her. She’d raise these symbols up so much higher than the things they represented. She’d push things like a stuffed animal on me, and force me to display it on my bed—cause it symbolized her. But she’d be so glued to that symbolism, that all meaning behind the gift would be lost. To this day I can’t remember what was the reason she gave me it. All I remember was the fight we got in because I thought she cared about me liking it more than me loving her.
It doesn’t matter now; it’s in a garbage dump somewhere. Along with everything else that symbolized us.
Thankfully the subject has changed. I sit there and eat my dinner. My Dad’s sister starts talking about how she never gets to see us or something. I’m waiting for my Grandmother to make a comment about her living in another state. I’m waiting. It surprisingly doesn’t happen. She normally has a comment for everything. God knows I’ve heard most of them.
Why am I able to predict my family’s actions so well? Well it’s not just them, I can do it for anybody I’ve known for long enough. That was one of the things that annoyed Ani so much. I’d always know what she was gonna say before she said it. I’ve gotta learn to control that though. I can tell it really gets annoying when I start arguing points that haven’t been brought up yet. It’s like trying to change the future. God knows I can’t do that; I can only use my free will to go in the direction he set for me.
It doesn’t matter. Whether I can predict people’s actions or not, it makes no difference. I may have occasionally pissed off Ani, but she still loved me, I know she loved me. I knew she would never do anything to hurt me, and would always love me till the end. Then she cheated on me. And I broke up with her. I couldn’t believe she’d ever do that.
“Oh Linda, this pork is delicious!” My Aunt said to my Mom. “Hey, what would Easter be without pork?” I couldn’t hold back any longer. I knew where this was going. “It would probably be the same. The pork isn’t what makes this a corruption of the Holiday.”
Everyone looked at me. It’s the most words I’ve said all evening. They knew what was coming too. I had to set them straight on what Easter’s about, cause I know they’re just gonna get it wrong. They always do.
“Every year we sit here and we talk about the pork, and we talk about the Easter Bunny, and we eat jelly beans 'til we’re blue in the face trying to figure out when they’re going to show ‘Holiday Inn’ again on TV. But that’s not Easter! Easter isn’t about any of that. You think it’s written in the Bible that Uncle Mike’s son is going to get a chocolate bunny and some yellow Peeps in his basket this year? No! Easter is about the resurrection of Christ! About him dying for our sins… our mistakes; for our problems. The Bible says: ‘And on the third day he rose from the dead.’ This day is about him, his comeback. It’s about his return to us after he realized “Hey, I’m Jesus Christ! I’ve died for you!” It’s not about you guys. We’ve lost that meaning. The meaning of the Holiday is gone and all we think about is cute little commercialized symbols. What the hell happened to Easter?!”
Silence. Finally my Grandmother comments. “Luke, don’t raise your voice like that! Some people believe differently than you.”
They all turned against me. Why does that always happen?
“I’ve suddenly lost my appetite.” I pushed my dish away and got up and walked to my room. Why is it that God is forgotten today? Even on the days set aside for him no one remembers. If Jesus died today do you think they’d care? No! They still wouldn’t listen to me. I guess it still wasn’t much easier for Jesus himself. There he is being crucified and who’s there with him—only John and Mary Magdalene. Where was his family then? Your family’s never there when you need them. They’re only there to crucify you.
I turn on some music. I need to get my mind off this. Hmm…Psycho Candy. The Jesus and Mary Chain. Fitting enough. The music starts as I sit down in my mercy seat. It’s then that I realize my phone is beeping. Someone left a message.
I might as well listen to it. It can’t make anything worse.
All I need to hear is the sound of the crying and I know who it is: Ani. What is she calling me for? What could she possibly want on Easter?
“Luke…I miss you so much…I…a-I just can’t take this anymore…I want you back…I need you…I was wrong in what I did-wrong in how I treated you-wrong in how I acted…I’m sorry…I was stupid. I never should have cheated on you. I never should have done any of that…Luke! Please…please, please call me back. I still love you. I want to be with you again…Happy Easter.”
Wow. Why the hell does she think I want to speak to her? I don’t miss her. I’ve moved on. It was two weeks ago God damn it! She’s got to be kidding me!
Maybe she’s really sorry though. I’m not sure.
Well, this just ruins the day even more.
I’m not gonna call her back. I can’t. Not after what she’s done. No. I—I—don’t know.
This kills me. She seemed like she was in pain. She seemed like she needed me too. No, she should have thought of that before she cheated on me. But she’s obviously begging for forgiveness. She obviously wants me back. She even said it. I don’t want her back. Right?
I should call her. I should make sure she’s ok. That would be the right thing to do…yeah, that’s the correct thing. I’ll call her. She needs me. I loved her. I miss her.
As I’m dialing I hear the chorus to “Just Like Honey”.