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Malbec or stranger than fiction

by beccalicious94

I wish my life were a work of fiction. Sometimes I think of things that would only happen in a story, and would be inappropriate for real life. For example, earlier this week, I decided I needed to break up with you.

I would go over to your house as planned. We would have amazing sex, and we would fall asleep, and you would have a taste in your mouth for more. After you fell asleep, I would scoop myself up from my side of the bed, gingerly. I would put on my clothes, gather all of my belongings, leaving behind only the long brown strands of hair I shed. And then, as if by mistake, a piece of paper would happen to fall out of my fingers perhaps on my side of the bed, or in the corner where I usually leave my things, or on your night stand on top of your cell phone you check while I’m talking to you. And maybe that’s too obvious, and instead I would leave it on your kitchen counter, and your roommate would find it and ask you about it. There’s something dramatic about a messenger from the universe calling out your iniquities.

The piece of paper would be an excerpt from a 2010 article by Eric Asimov in the New York Times. In it, he writes about the wine malbec. It’s what you always order, a wine you say you discovered that you like. You tell me this one night when you’re unsure about our relationship. That data point came back to me one day when I was bored at work, and I found this article. The relevant text in the piece would be circled by my red copy editor pen or perhaps in wine if I’m feeling meta or perhaps blood (okay, I’m not that crazy). I want you to know that it’s coming from me, but also simultaneously that maybe it isn’t.

The night I broke up with you, you told me your bike got stolen, as if that was the karma you were due for treating me horribly. I want to inflict you with psychological torture. I want you to be plagued by the same confusion you felt towards me with confusion surrounding misgivings about your actions.

Perhaps I will mail you the letter. Maybe with a different return address since you know where I live, or none at all and take my chances. Or maybe even fabricate an address. I could put your mother’s home address, or the address of your family friend whose bed and breakfast we stayed in when things were still bright.

I want you to taste the flavor of the burning words running down your throat like alcohol. Malbecs are “safe and reliable for people who may be unsure of their tastes.” I want you to internalize that you are what you drink. I want you to be in a room with the universe laughing at you. I want you to know how that feels.

I want you to be better. I want you to pick a better wine. 

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446 Reviews

Points: 18818
Reviews: 446

Tue May 16, 2017 12:19 am
Tuckster wrote a review...

Hey there! MJ here for a quick review of your essay(?) That's the first thing I wanted to point out, so let's jump into it.

This was labelled as an essay, but it felt more like a blog-type thing or maybe a short story. It didn't meet all the criteria for a short story since the plot was pretty brief and not a major point of your writing, but it wasn't written as a detailed essay. To be fair, however, you could classify it as maybe an article of some sort.

As far as your first paragraph goes, 'inappropriate' doesn't feel like the right word. In our society today, break-ups aren't really frowned upon. If the MC wants to break up and has good reasons, it seems like that would be pretty close to okay.

Because of your mention of sex in the second paragraph, I would make this work 18+ since there are young(er) children on YWS. Just an aside there.

There's very little description of how the MC feels about everything going on in the second paragraph. Since this is a dramatic and poignant letter, not mentioning how the MC feels while all of this is going on can make the reader a little unsure of where the plot is going next.

The ending also seemed like a slightly strange and out of place "switch". Now you're explaining that you want HIM to have a better girlfriend, when before you did the breakup for yourself.

Overall, I like where you're headed with this piece. It was almost a miscellaneous work, hence all the confusion and discussion about what this should be filed as. Some of your plot execution was shaky and some sections could use some improvements and clarifications, but once those small bits are fixed I think this story could be very powerful and moving. Good work!

Best wishes,

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126 Reviews

Points: 144
Reviews: 126

Mon May 15, 2017 9:23 pm
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papillote wrote a review...

Hi, Beccalicious.
As an author, I have several issues with this.
First of all, you labelled it as an essay but it was midway between it and a shortstory for me. It fell short of a shortstory (pun not intended) because the narrative wasn't clear enough. I can relate to some of your feelings and, so, on a level, I understand. Everything is not dreamy with your boyfriend (girlfriend?). You want to break up but, more than that, you want to hurt that person the way they hurt you. But I'm left with a lot of questions.
When did they humiliate you publicly ? Have you already broken up with them ? If not, why not ? You seem to consider that Malbec wines are a perfect metaphor for your, uh, lover's relationship issues. Why ? What is he/she unsure about ?
That being said, reading you, I couldn't help picking up on very strong emotions and that's always a good sign : desire, anger, humiliation, resentment, even regrets and, more interestingly, a tiny bit of self-derision (« I'm not that crazy »). That last touch was positively charming. It made me wish that I could read something of yours that's not so angry.
As a woman, I can relate.
Being angry is sometimes easier at the end of a relationship. You are tired of trying to make things work. You are hurt. You want revenge. But that anger often covers up something more painful and more shameful.
You know what you have lost and you are grieving. Almost everyone feels guilty. You wonder how much of your issues are your fault, you wonder if you are making too much out of nothing.
And if you were really in love, you probably go through that process where it's like the other person is jerking your strings on your purpose. They are being horrible most of the time, then, right when you are about ready to throw the towel, they do something. It can be anything, big or little, but it's like it has been designed to make you hesitate, to make your grievances feel stupid and petty.
I practice acceptance. It's not a religion, it's a way of life. I have found that it helps me see things more clearly, especially in very confusing matters like love. In acceptance, the goal of your every action should be to optimize your lifestyle so it will procure you enduring comfort. You need to measure everything in your life and to determine whether it is « bad », « good » or « best ». You excise every part that's bad, without anger and without regrets.
I advise you to maybe think about doing some excising. Maybe the person you love will never be able to pick a better wine.
Good luck.

It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.
— Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind