Attachments can be so difficult to sever — unless one has, ah ha, a knife sharp enough to cut to the point. A heart-shaped scalpel. A straight razor to the affections.
Brian had gone all to pieces when I’d confronted him about his behavior. No more cheating, no more lies, no more excuses. (What a relief — I’d been running out of clever ones.) He denied, despite the overwhelming evidence, ever having opened the forbidden door downstairs. He made all sorts of unfounded accusations (perhaps not inaccurate, but that’s not the point), blamed me for all the problems in our relationship (I kept too much hidden, he said. One room, I ask. Is a little privacy too much to ask?), and refused to listen to a word I said. He’d been hysterical. He’d said my laughter would drive him mad!
He’d always been too curious about the locked room in the basement. He’d resorted to all sorts of tricks to get me to open the door. He’d threatened to leave me. He’d threatened to stay. He’d tried forcing me to open the door. He’d tried — not forcing? — withholding himself sexually to get me to open the door. He tried to pick the lock; he tried to batter the door itself down. He’d had to hire a locksmith, finally.
The room itself hadn’t contained anything mysterious or of any particular horror except some old pop albums from the late seventies and early eighties and a dead Chia pet. There was a comfortable chair, a shelf of romance novels, a secret package of cigarettes and some air freshener, shelves full of junk and old craft projects, a velvet Elvis, and a box full of winter coats.
The painting was slashed off its backing, the albums smashed, the chair cushions shredded and the stuffing scattered, the old coats ripped open at the seams, the romance novels…well, let’s just say that all the romance was gone.
“The money! Where is the money?” He’d grabbed me by the shoulders and shaken me; he’d hit me.
Fortunately the money, as with my other toys, was elsewhere.
Finding nothing, his passions ebbing, he slapped me a final time, accused me of being the most banal and boring person on the face of the planet, and left. Then he came back. Then he left again. And back again. He waffled for weeks. I realized he’d never have the courage to leave me, so I helped him. It was my house, after all.
“I hope you don’t need any more closure than this,” I said. Then I threw his heart on the floor and walked all over it.