Katharine Monger

Pobrecita

We stepped out of a roaring apartment party full of whiskey and X and stumbled along an alleyway until we found a road that looked a little bit like the path home. We walked it off in the rain, like in those bad romantic comedies, but we didn’t kiss. Years later, we will each find the woman we are meant to hold; and she and I will still be friends, the way lovers ask of each other as the end draws near.

We were alone in Dublin. The others would return on Monday from weekend trips toEdinburgh, London, Cork. Before they’d left, they’d whispered about us, smiled at us like they knew something we didn’t. But as I held her hand through the narrow streets, his hand was reaching for me from across the ocean. Years later, he and I will not be friends.

We quickly gave up on trying to cover our hair with our coats. She smiled as we weaved around groups of drunken men who whistled, who called out, who asked if we missed dick. She whispered to me in Spanish, though she knew—at least when she was sober, she knew—that I didn’t speak it, that I didn’t understand her when she talked like that, stop talking like that. She stiffened every time we crossed a street, like she was afraid I would dart into the embrace of oncoming traffic.

When we passed by the darkened windows of a café, I imagined stopping to ask her if she remembered what I didn’t realize until later: that she’d almost touched the palm of my hand when she’d asked me if I’d wanted more water for my tea.
“Was it a date?” I imagined asking her.

“Pobrecita,” she said as we made our way up the apartment steps, through the vacant rooms.

“Pobrecita,” she said again, collapsing on the crumpled duvet.

I made sure she had water, then curled up at the foot of the bed, an apathetic cat. I faced the open window, the moon, stillness. As she slept, I imagined wondering what he was doing back home. I imagined being jealous of his female friends. I imagined missing him in the way that I should, not simply because it was easy, not simply because I was supposed to. I imagined wanting to marry him. I imagined wishing that I wouldn’t have to go home.

As she slept, I imagined that I wouldn’t have to break her heart.

 
 
 

Katharine G. Monger is part of Washington University in St. Louis’ MFA Program’s inaugural creative nonfiction cohort (’17). She holds an MA in rhetoric and composition from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, as well as a BA in creative writing from The University of Iowa. Monger is Nonfiction Editor of WUSTL’s literary magazine, The Spectacle. She has been previously published in Apeiron Review, Crack the Spine, and Sonora Review, for which she was a finalist for the 2015 Essay Prize.