Because It Was A Day

Because it was a day we contacted people we no longer loved even though we once often told them we loved them, my ex started chatting with me online. I wrote back not only because it was a day we contacted people we no longer loved even though we once often told them that we loved them but also because her screen named had appeared weekly if not daily in my chat window over the last three years, since the phone call I answered in my dorm room in Michigan and she screamed from her dorm room in Minnesota I’m not gay you just made me think I was thanks a lot before the line went silent.

On this day we contacted people we no longer loved even though we once often told them we loved them, she typed

are u okay

and I typed

Yes, are you?

and she typed

where were u

and I typed

in my car on my way to my temp job at the tile company. But I was listening to Dave Brubeck so I didn’t hear the radio. And we don’t have a TV at the tile company so I haven’t seen the pictures

and she typed

oh

and I typed

I’m worried about Kyla

because I was worried about our friend Kyla who went to college on an army scholarship, and when we were all freshman in the dorms in Minnesota it was kind of a game that Kyla went away on weekends to train and do obstacle courses and came back muddy.

she typed

why are u worried about Kyla

But now it didn’t seem funny because a young guy about my age at the tile warehouse was first stunned like the rest of us and then in the afternoon punched a pallet of granite tile, said something about Iraq, and yelled

“I’m going to kill those raghead bitches.”

But no one on the radio had said anything about Iraq, and maybe he said something about Iraq because that was a country we had fought and beat before so they were an enemy with a name.

and I typed back

because I think Bush will use today to start a big war against Iraq

I remembered someone tried to bomb the towers before and it was people from Saudi Arabia so maybe it was them. But if this young man was so angry and certain and yelling raghead bitches and something about Iraq then there must be other people across the country punching things and yelling raghead bitches into the unsettled silent air before anyone knew for sure. Because we didn’t know for sure.

and she typed

can’t u just be an American and be sad and stop bringing politics into this u are such a fucking liberal

and then she clicked offline.

It was eight years before I heard from her again.

In those eight years I heard many Americans say raghead bitches, and we all took off our shoes and threw out our drinks at the airport and our pulses rose as colors changed from yellow to orange to red and back to orange. And I wondered if I had ever loved America and thought maybe it was time to leave.

But it was Kyla who left, eventually returning from her second tour in Iraq, pregnant and engaged to a man from her army unit.

And it was my ex who moved to Spain to teach English and married a Spanish man and has two beautiful bilingual boys, more worldly than I will ever be because I stayed in Minneapolis and married an American woman and we have no children.

But we will have children. And I will teach them German and my wife will teach them Russian and French. And we will teach them not to yell raghead bitches. And we will teach them to always contact the people you no longer love because there will always be another day you contact people you no longer love even if you once often told them you love them because even if you don’t really love them in the same way you never stop caring.

Front page image by robotpolisher.

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Allegra Lingo

About the Author

Allegra Lingo is a writer and musician in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is currently finishing up her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Hamline University and is at work on a memoir, The Genealogy of Happenstance. Her work has appeared in The Blotter and West Trade Review and on Minnesota Public Radio, KFAI, and stages around the Twin Cities with the Rockstar Storytellers and the Minnesota Fringe. Lingo is the Audience and Volunteer Services Director for the Minnesota Fringe. In 2013 Ed Bok Lee called her "the lovechild of Shel Silverstein and Mein Kampf." But that's a story for another time.
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