by Gregory T. Janetka

Those goddamn duck shoelaces. She’s 25 damn years old. And she wonders why I don’t treat her more like an adult. Goddamn little yellow ducks. She’s already five years younger than me. Stop trying to act younger, it makes me uncomfortable.

I hate this place. I’ve always hated this place. I suggested it as a compromise – closer to where I wanted to be and to where I thought she’d be happier. And she isn’t. At least not with me. She still sleeps here and wakes here, but mum’s the word on anything in between. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to find out. I looked at her text messages once. Of course I love you too, she wrote him. After that I stopped snooping. None of the other details could possibly matter.

My days are spent devising ways to win her back and ways to hurt her, but I don’t seem to be able to do either. Instead I sit on this porch – removed from our apartment and from the world. Drinking used to heighten my emotion but now only heightens the lack of emotion. But I do drink a lot of iced tea, so that’s good.

It’s raining. I used to love playing in the rain. No matter what else was going on, if there was a good rainstorm everything else was put on hold. Even in college. I’d skip class for a downpour.

She’s kicking a ball around the tennis court. For two years we talked about playing but never have. I suppose she has nowhere else to go right now except here. And I’m here.

Those shoes. Those damn shoes and those goddamn shoelaces. Ducks. When that drunk at the baseball game laughed and asked how old she was, I laughed too. Which, I heard about for days.

Her pants are dragging on the ground, soaking up the rain. Ah, those pants though – those I could get behind. They were my favourite. She says she’s too skinny but by God those pants make every curve a gift from God. When she wore holes in the knees I patched them with pieces of an old black t-shirt. Rough, square patches that didn’t try to blend with the brown. That made me like them even more.

It’s goddamn July, why’s she wearing a sweatshirt? Shit. There I go again. Maybe I did make her walk on eggshells. I can be an ass, I know I can. The light grey is nearly all dark now, nearly soaked through. It’s the one from the college she went to before we met. She was wearing it that first night when we got pancakes after the concert and I joked about how I only came for the pancakes and she smiled and I smiled.

And if she hadn’t gone back to school?

And if we hadn’t moved here?

And if she had communicated better?

And if I had been less neurotic?

But no time for that now, I’m out of iced tea.


Gregory T. Janetka is a writer from Chicago who currently lives in San Diego. His work has been featured in The Birch Gang Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Gambling the Aisle and other publications. He is terribly good at jigsaw puzzles and drinks a great deal of tea. More of his writings can be found at