Fiction by Micaela Gardner
When Marvin decided to break up with his girlfriend of four months, Mary-Anne, he knew there was bound to be some hurt. What he didn't expect was Mary-Anne stabbing him in the belly with a plastic spork."Oh my God! You messed up my to-do list! I wasn't supposed to stab you until after lunch!" Mary-Anne wailed, her gray eyes filling with tears. "You derailed my whole day. I had two thirds of my tasks done already—sixty-six percent, to be precise."
Marvin considered calling the police or an ambulance or something, but Mary-Anne had her car, and she still had all of his CDs in it, so he reluctantly accepted a ride to the urgent care center that was located three blocks away. It was better than walking.
He probably could have gone without a trip to the doctor if Mary-Anne hadn't leaned forward and rotated the spork one-hundred and eighty degrees, pushing the spork so far into his belly that a passerby would not be able to identify what utensil had penetrated him in the first place.
"I didn't mean to do that," Mary-Anne said as she accelerated through the stop sign, nearly hitting a pregnant woman with a stroller. "I just—you said those things, and they made me so mad, those clichés—really, darling, it was the clichés that got hurt."
Marvin considered asking her if she thought the clichés were bleeding out through their belly buttons and hurt like holy hell too, but decided aggravating her further would not be a wise move.
"In a way," she said, "I think you should be flattered. I mean, who else would risk your life for you? Who else would love you so much, that if she couldn't have you, no one could?"
Marvin thought back to Becky, his last and only girlfriend before Mary-Anne. Sweet, dense, Becky with her frizzy brown hair who looked like a little brown bear that walked on its hind legs. For Marvin's nineteenth birthday, Becky bought them two puppies and named them Salt and Pepper. She thought it was a step forward in their relationship. Marvin had broken up with her almost immediately, the thought of taking care of animals with his girlfriend more frightening than being stabbed in the stomach with a spork. The cutesy, matching names disgusted him on a visceral level. The last Marvin had heard about Becky was that her apartment couldn't keep pets, and she had gotten rid of them and bleached her hair dandelion yellow and started sleeping with guys named "Mike" and "Adam". These escapades were all bitterly recounted on her Facebook, which he was ashamed to say was public to his parents.
"If you think about it, being stabbed is a very common literary theme. Juliet stabbed herself when she found Romeo dead. See, baby, we're like Romeo and Juliet." Mary-Anne gave Marvin one her of trademarked, quivering half-smiles, completely insane but also the single most arousing sight Marvin had ever witnessed.
The pain in his stomach seemed to lessen as they parked the car in the lot.
On the examination table, Marvin thought about how when he broke up with Becky, he got nothing. She didn't even cry in front of him. Granted, he later found out about her crying, mostly through Facebook status updates and her Twitter account ("Becky White is sobbing uncontrollably after losing the single most important person and two most important puppies all in one day"). But he didn't get the drama he had anticipated, which was both a let-down and a relief.
But Mary-Anne had given it to him.
"I think we should see other peo—"
The cliché had only partially started tumbling out of his mouth when Mary-Anne seized his gravy-covered utensil and thrust it into his quivering belly.
At first he felt nothing at all as he stared down at the white plastic handle sticking out of his abdomen. Then the pain set in, and the blood began to soak through his plain white t-shirt.
Mary-Anne, the single most selfish woman he had ever met in his entire life, suddenly sacrificed all of her white starchy napkins to the cause of his bleeding stomach.
And really, she didn't have to drive him. Wasn't there something tragically poetic about being hurt by the person you love most, and then being healed by them? Marvin stared at the watercolor painting of a daisy as his legs swung back and forth, hanging over the floor.
His father used to tell him that what scares you most is usually good for you. He had used this philosophy to teach his son to eat vegetables, how to ride a bike, and to study his geometry homework. But doesn't this apply to love, too? Isn't the idea of loving someone, of getting stabbed in the belly (metaphorically or otherwise) scary as hell but, in the end, worth it? No, he would not live in fear. Marvin loved vegetables and rode his bike every day to school, where he majored in math. A slight mishap like a spork in the belly would not intimidate him from pursuing true love!
The doctor bandaged up his stomach and prescribed him horse pills that were supposed to help with infection. Marvin was supposed to take three pills a day for eleven days, but he assumed he would forget to do so in less than a week.
Mary-Anne was in the waiting room, clutching a Highlights For Kids magazine and staring at him with wide eyes.
"Babe, I'm so sorry," she gushed. "Please, forgive me. I just don't know what got into me."
Marvin took the magazine out of her hands and carefully put it down on the table. Mary-Anne slowly rose out of her seat.
"I think we're at a point in a relationship where we can start thinking about adopting some puppies," he told his girlfriend, the love of his life, as he held both of her hands in his own.
At once, Mary-Anne flushed with surprise and delight.
"Oh, that would be lovely! What will we name them?"
"How about Bonnie and Clyde?" he asked her as they walked through the automatic sliding glass door.
"Oh God, Marvin, sometimes I love you so much it hurts," Mary-Anne exclaimed as they walked towards her beat-up, old Mercedes Benz.
"Me too," Marvin said, wincing with each step towards his girlfriend's car, "me too."