Becky & Harold Celebrate Valentine’s Day (Short Story)

Becky sat on the ratty blue futon. She straddled a bowl of caramel popcorn mixed with Cheez-its and drizzled in low fat butter that she had melted in the microwave. She stuck her arm in up to her elbow and grabbed a gooey handful. She shoved it into her mouth and wiped her buttered hand on her sweat pants. She was alone except for her cat, Harold, for whom she did not feel the need to impress with table manners. Harold attempted to saunter around the room, but it was littered with Diet Coke cans and various snack food wrappers. “Gossip Girl” had been streaming on the TV for approximately seven hours. Becky had been weeping for approximately six.

“See, Harold? That’s the kind of man I want. Romantic and passionate.” She sniffed a nugget of snot into the back of her throat. “I swear to God, Chuck and Blair are the greatest love story of the modern age.” Her voice cracked as she choked on her shallow breath.

“Get it together, Becky.” Said Harold.

“How can I? He’s totally irresistible.”

“He looks like a serial killer had a child with a fish.”

“If you’re going to be a fuddy-duddy-piss-pot, you can leave.” Becky said. She didn’t mean it.

“I can’t open door handles. I don’t have thumbs.” Harold said.

Becky tearfully surveyed her snack bowl. “I’m thinking this could use some Sriracha,” she said, “What do you think?”

“I think that’ll taste like rock bottom, Becky.” He sat on a particularly crinkly chip bag and began grooming himself.

“Oh, what do you know.” Becky slumped to the kitchen and sifted through the contents of her fridge. “You know, maybe I should text Drake,” she said as she squirted hot sauce into the bowl. “I haven’t talked to him in a while.”

“Because he stole your laptop,” Harold said. “And your toaster.”

“There’s this little thing called ‘forgive and forget’, Harold, you should try it some time.” Becky said. She used a measuring cup to add a glob of mayonnaise to her concoction.

“You microwave your bread every morning, I think it’d be pretty hard to forget.” Harold said.

“All I’m saying is that, besides that, he wasn’t all that bad.” Becky stirred the contents of the bowl with a whisk. All of the spoons were dirty. When she was satisfied, she returned to the futon and settled into the crater her hours of immobility had made in the cushion.

“Honestly, this has gone on long enough.” Harold said, hopping up onto the arm of the futon.

“What?” Becky said.

“This pity party. You are a grown woman with a job, a one bedroom apartment that you pay for yourself, I don’t understand your sudden fixation on your love life.”

“First of all, I am not throwing a pity party,” Becky said, “It is important to fully feel one’s emotions unless one wishes to become emotionally constipated. So forgive me for taking the time to express myself. Secondly, look at a calendar. Thirdly, what use is millennial success when there’s no one to share it with?”

“The need for a romantic domestic partnerships is a societal construct, Becky.” Harold said.

“Do you know how many friends I have on Facebook?”

“Eight-hundred and-“

“Eight-hundred and forty-three. And do you know how many of them have posted a relationship update about being engaged?”

“I don’t know.” Harold said.

“Eight-hundred and forty-two.”

“Who is the one?”

“My parents’ joint account.” Becky flicked popcorn against the TV screen. A few stuck on. “Even my cousin Amy got engaged. And she’s not even cute.”

“Becky, Amy is twelve.”

“So? Doesn’t make her cute.” She sniffled. “What am I supposed to do? Everyone I know is getting married and getting chocolates and having dinner and I haven’t had a real boyfriend in, what, eight months?”

“That hardly seems like something to have a melt down about.” Harold said.

“Are you kidding?” Becky glared at the cat. “I am twenty-fucking-seven and disappearing into social obscurity as my womb shrivels and my vagina falls out.”

“The idea that you ‘expire’ as a valuable woman is a bit antiquated, don’t you think?” Harold asked.

“You think you’re so smart just because you took one sociology class through University of Phoenix.” Becky snorted.

“It’s an accredited university, Rebecca.” Harold hissed. He took a moment to collect himself. “Okay. Pretend none of your friends had just gotten engaged. How would you feel?”

“Better, I guess.” She said. “But I’d still need a boyfriend.”

“Why do you need a man in your life?” Harold said.

“You can lick your own asshole, Harold, not all of us can do that!” She had a point.

“Look,” Harold said, curling up in Becky’s lap. “Maybe we need to discuss the possibility that it just might not happen for you.”

“What won’t happen?”

“You might not find love. Some people never do, and it’s no reflection on their innate value, but it simply wasn’t in the cards for them.”

“How could you say that? There’s someone for everyone. Don’t you hope to find someone someday?” Becky said.

“You cut off my balls, Becky. My options are slim.” He said. “If there is someone for everyone, how do you explain all the people who have died alone?”

“They just didn’t meet their person, I guess. They were in the wrong country or missed the elevator or something.”

“What if you’re one of those people?” Harold said. Becky was silent for a while.

“I always recognized that some people didn’t end up with anyone,” she said. “I just never thought it would be me.” Harold rubbed up against her. “At least I’ve got you, Harold. We’ll stick together.”

“A typical cat’s lifespan is about fifteen years, so at thirty-nine, you may want to look into other arrangements.” They sat for a while.

“But maybe it won’t be me.” Becky said. “There’s still time. Social media might be obsolete by then, and no one will get a notification, but maybe I’ll find someone. Maybe it won’t be me.”

“Maybe.” Said Harold.

They settled into the futon. Perhaps the pity party could continue, Harold thought. Just for that day.


One comment

  1. Lisa · March 7

    I swear Rachel you are the only writer who can make me scream in horror (“You can lick your own asshole Harold”), laugh out loud picturing having a conversation with a cat, and make me feel like I have just overheard someone’s deepest, darkest secret. All in a short story. Your writing punches me in the face and then gives me a hug. Bravo.


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