It started with her butter. First you shaved off thin pats, then you cut off whole tablespoons because that was how the days ended in May: with you eating slices of whole-wheat toast, standing over the kitchen sink.
At first you took her food with discretion. You knelt beside the open fridge door, opened the lids of Tupperware where they sat on the shelf, and picked out a bite or two with your clean fingers. Then you became bolder, less concerned. You poured glasses of her milk. You made her coffee, spooned her sugar into your mug, then finished it with her half-and-half that you left out on the counter until you were done.
You tell yourself Cheryl won’t mind the missing food because she is generous, because she only pays for half of those groceries anyway and Trevor has a job with a 401K. You believe it is alright because she was planning a Spring diet, because Cheryl needs to start that diet if she wants to hold onto Trevor and his abdominals that you saw the morning he left the bathroom door ajar and you watched him brush his teeth and smooth, poorly, the cowlick standing at the back of his head and you held your breath until he spit and you went into the kitchen to make coffee and toast with Cheryl’s butter. You feel justified, righteous even, because you know that you deserve a few small comforts since Greg left with your second-hand stand-mixer and his pan-fried steaks to work the family farm out in Indiana.
Greg told you he was leaving and you said, “Who the fuck wants to live in Indiana?” And he said, “I thought you might, but now I know better.” Which you still think is unfair but you ruined it with your big mouth. But who gives a shit, right, because who the fuck wants to live in Indiana?
Greg, who is in Indiana. That’s who.
Tayler Heuston, California-native, holds an MFA in fiction writing from North Carolina State University. Her short stories and poems have also appeared in Spectrum, Matchbox Magazine, and Into the Teeth of the Wind. In 2014, she received the Robbie S. Knott Endowment. She lives in Raleigh, NC.