I am trying very hard not to give my review of some of the other reviews here, which are clearly indicative of people reading material that is far more than an outlier to their comfort zone. That said, my opinion of this short story is that it is classic Palahniuk; written in the manner that one would verbally recount such a story to another and worded with expert precision.
Awful. I kept waiting for the amazing-ness to happen for me with this book and I have finished the book and I am still waiting. There is nothing profound about this book. Nothing life changing. There are very few lines that you will fondly recall. This book is entirely forgetable.
The death of us was not totally expected, but it was not a complete surprise. A doctor didn’t give us a terminal diagnosis.
Oh, there may have been a few red flags along the way that things were unraveling. A shift incommunication. The fun “sexting” drifting off. Sensual and reflective email exchanges disappearing. Passionate sex eroding into the familiar.
I imagine myself talking to a doctor and across the table she says, “Share more with me about these red flags.” Immediately I feel discomfort so I flee the room. I don’t want to share this out loud as it makes it too real. I know the ailments, I feel the ailments—they are a tape loop in my head.
The playfulness of sex and moments of spending hours laughing, exploring each other was replaced with regular evening meals.
You know—you walk in the door, casually hug me, grab a beer, retreating to the paper or turning on the television. My heart knows this is a sign of an oncoming illness, but I ignore it thinking, “This routine must mean we are becoming a couple. It can’t always be exciting.”
You lose interest in engaging with me. Yet across the long kitchen island, I watch you pecking away at your phone, my heart racing, my mind screaming, “Is he sexting someone else to stir his excitement?”
I mean, I knew I was guilty of engaging in this behavior too. There were times I tried to lure you in, but the witty comments I used to receive evaporated. To boost my confidence, I reach out to male friends, engaging in banter with them.
Gazing up from your phone you see my soul and mind gravitating towards jealousy, aching to feel connected to you. You see my fears and view them as a weakness. Soothing gestures are not extended to eradicate these ghosts, instead, you offer a look of disdain—pushing me farther away.
Alone, each symptom appears independent of the other, superficial. And even if a scary diagnosis had been given, we had awareness of the problems, so we could hope for remission, right?
As night closes in, under the sheets, my hand hesitantly reaches out to touch your body. I reach for remission. In the moments you allow me in, I melt into a sea of denial, this will be okay. Even if our relationship has a terminal diagnosis, I can still choose hope, right? Miracles happen…
I continue to pray for the miracle—for you to have an awakening to love.
The miracle did not happen.
Instead we develop our own treatment plan, cycles patched together with intensity, love, awareness of the other’s faults, pulling back when the ego steps in and says, “Hello! This person is far from perfect. Run!”
And oh, the special agent—space. Whatever the hell that means. I send emails describing in poetic form the love my heart feels for you. Yet, you stay silent. Eventually you seem to miss me too, reaching out to assess if I am still there.
Of course I am still here—waiting. We reconnect with fierce passion.
I feel alive. Restored. Convinced passion this strong means we share a special and unique connection. Each cycle resembling a chemo treatment, our own personal “cocktail.” The irony is treatments attack the good cells, along with the bad. My heart is guarded and it understands the limitations of your love.
Although you never openly acknowledge my ability to see into your soul, I use my gift of intuition, creating a campaign of you need me. A sneaky sales technique cloaked in skillful words.
I stand strongly in a place of love—and you gravitate back to me.
The problem? I hold a place of love for you, but not for me.
You hold back to me a cracked mirror. The cracks of my self doubt reflected back by you continuously being on the fence about diving in completely with me. The cycles gain momentum, like water rushing down a slide. We are slipping—fast.
We decide, once again, well you decide, we need space.
Whatever the hell that means…
S P A C E
Shit. I hate this word, the meaning I attach to it in my life.
Space = I am not good enough.
Space + I am not good enough = loneliness.
Loneliness = Hell
Hell = being in my mind, like Alice in Wonderland.
I follow the damn rabbit. I scream, I whimper, I cry—I call every friend I know will listen until I exhaust myself into…
OMG—the “answer.” It is an “ah-ha” moment. I see with crystal clear awareness the cycle, a cycle as predictable as day and night, seasons changing. We have been through the cycle again—in the request for space.
The new cycle is looming—but not manifested. In between these two cycles, is s p a c e.
I finally understand what the hell space means for me.
Space + different perspective = opportunity to do something different
Opportunity to do something different = change
Change = the cycle dies.
I realized my pattern—I was always trying to fill the this empty space between the two cycles, with words, actions—with the intended outcome of bringing us back together. I was filling the S P A C E with you.
What would doing something different look like to me?
Be still—being completely still. Sit with the quiet. Sit with the pain. Allow it to wash over me. Don’t run from it, don’t try to repress it, deny it, analyze it, fix it…
Simply sit with it.
And so, although you may not have felt it, we died. And in this moment, I accept our death. I am not judging myself or analyzing if my ailments—lack of self-love, my inability to show up for myself, speaking my truth—are catalysts for our death.
I choose not to blame myself. I am not able to control or rewrite what evolved between us. I do not know what tomorrow brings. I am going to be still and practice being gentle with myself. Allowing myself to grieve what is—in this very moment. I choose to let go of controlling outcomes with you.
It is scary, very scary.
I seek help from others to support me, reminding me to look within at my own light.
There is death in this S P A C E.
Yet, I also feel and see the emergence of life—the blossoming of new. Space now means expansion. I feel a thousand possibilities. Perhaps it includes you, but maybe it doesn’t. Does my heart secretly desire it does?
But I am letting go and am placing this in the column of things for the Universe to handle.
I have a hard time giving books five stars, but with this one, I do so without reserve. I read this book because I was simply engrossed in the HBO series and I wanted more. Something about the darkness and the unknowing in the show felt like home to me and the book delivered the same. As a person who is addicted to observing the human experience, this book could not have been more in my wheelhouse. One of the things I love the most about this story is that all of the characters are reacting to an unexplainable trauma, and all of them are right in how they process their grief. It couldn't possibly get more raw than the meandering thoughts of a woman whose entire family inexplicably disappeared who arrives at the conclusion, "Now that she knew the truth, she could see that she'd lost a little less than she thought she had, which was almost like getting something back."