Al’s Broken Heart

Once your Heartbreaks it’s not a one time thing, you have to patch it up everyday at least once. Sometimes you make it through the day without it breaking again, but be certain, on that day, it will wake you up in the middle of the night with your head on a sweaty pillow.

What if Al has an actual broken heart? A literal broken heart. A perfect specimen. Exact red. Under a cover in his chest. He needs to patch it up everyday to keep it running. That’s why he needs the peanut butter.

Lucky and strange, but it didn’t need patching that morning. Crunchy and nearly expired was all he had left. A horrible choice.

His heart was already out on the counter but he'd skip the patching. Even if he got into the stubborn and stuck extra nutty jar in the back of the cupboard, he’d have gas and chest pains all morning.

Peanut butter, of course, was the best thing to patch a broken heart. So Peanut Butter only was Al's only choice.

Extra-smooth was the best, so extra-smooth only was Al's only choice.

On a stroke of genius, he thought he would make a peanut butter and marshmallow mix to use for an adhesive. Extra smooth; extra sticky. But it didn’t work half as well.

***

It was only a little past noon and already starting to tear. He had to go into his emergency kit with the travel sized cups. They’re not extra smooth; but they’re not extra chunky either, he thought

The jar lid won’t come off because it’s been sitting so long, you see like his relationship that he can’t get over.

He can’t get the lid off to feed himself because it’s gone neglected and it’s gone neglected because that particular brand gives him awful indigestion. But there’s nothing else to eat.

He’s had a horrible day.

Not anything but this extra-nutty peanut butter an one slice of bread. It wouldn’t even be a sandwich, it would be peanut butter in between a single folded slice of bread: A peanut butter fold.

That was clever he thought. But he wasn’t sure anyone else would think so.

Maybe Diane would.

Well, maybe not Diane.

But she would’ve. Though she never would’ve admitted it to him. She would’ve told so and so at the work party how clever a ‘peanut butter fold’ was and how she had them all the time, but never would’ve said, “How clever Al is to have come up with these,” because when anyone else was in the room she pretended he wasn’t there.  

“Wish I was only pretending there’s nothing to eat," he said.

***

In the break room with the color coated Tupperware lids and Monica.

Every Monday he would take the yellow lid off his chicken and broccoli soup and ask her if she would like to share.

"No, thank you, but thank you," she said every time.

On Friday, he offered a slice of pizza from under his purple lid.

She accepted.

On Wednesday, quite by surprise, she asked him if he’d like half of her peanut butter sandwich, “Extra smooth,” she said.

“Thank you,” he said, “That would be nice.”

She handed him half a triangle from her red covered Tupperware.

Red on Wednesday, that was risky.

The first day she came in she had a brown bag. He wasn’t sure he could get along with someone who ate from a brown bag.

She didn’t speak to him that day and he wasn’t sad about it.

Half a peanut butter sandwich on Wednesday would go well with his apple slices.

He offered her half.

She said yes and he took them out from under his green lid, which wasn’t as risky as red, but it wasn’t orange either.

Extra Smooth Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Apple Slices went well together.

The fact that Red and Green were complementary colors was not lost on him.

Not much ever was, he thought.

***


That night:

I want something to keep me going that won’t make me sick. I want to stop trying so hard to get to something I know will only make me ill.

I want to stop working hard at getting peanut butter lids off of bad peanut butter.

Then he remembered that he didn’t finish the lunch he packed because Monica gave him half her soup and so wasn’t hungry for the half of the bologna sandwich still in his work bag.

He'd sit and eat it and think about how tomorrow was Friday, the right day for green, but he would bring in red and he would fill that crimson topped Tupperware full to bursting with a deli sandwich sliced in perfect halves and a bag of chips, BBQ chips, he’d buy on the way into work.

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