Why We Broke Up

Matt and Violet were never the sort of people expected to get together. But in the end, the funny part was... they didn't quite know where they went wrong.

Why We Broke Up is a love story told backwards... to find where they went wrong, and where exactly they went right.


2. September 5th, 2012


I’m lying flat on my bed, staring up at the ceiling. My eyes flick from one painting to another. They’re old, faded photocopies and prints, and they’re starting to come unpeeled at the edges. They used to cheer me up, but right now I can’t look at them. I close my eyes, but the dead colours seep under my lids, leaving me cold.

My phone is ringing.

I glance at it, even though I know who it is. I thought he’d stopped calling, but apparently he’d just taken a break.

I talk out loud to nobody: “If you’re looking to give me time to feel ready to talk, you might want to give it more than half an hour.” I roll my eyes and turn the phone over, flicking it on to silent.

There. Out of sight, out of mind.

I should do something, but I feel paralyzed. I shall exist, quietly, in this nothingness, until I can breathe again.

And I do, for a little while.

Then the doorbell rings.

“No,” I mutter to myself. “N­­o.” I lie there on my bed a little while longer, then I get up and cross to the window, all the while thinking please be the postman, please be the postman, please.

I look out, and then curse under my breath, and glare at the figure standing in the driveway.

I’m so glad that Mum isn’t in, because then she’d let him in, offer him tea, call to me, make me talk. And the last thing I want is to see his stupid face right now. But I’m staring right at it, and his stupid face is holding roses, and has his phone pressed to the side of his face.

Well, chimes in the commentary in the back of my head. Technically, his face isn’t holding anything.

He’s smiling hopefully up at me, but I shake my head, and cross to my bed. I pick up the phone, and stare out the window.

He stares at his phone, shocked, and then picks up. I raise my eyebrows, waiting for him to talk, and shut the blind.

“Hi,” he says, tentatively.

I roll my eyes.

“Look, I just want you to know that… that I’m really sorry, and what I did… I know it was wrong, and it didn’t… I’m just really sorry, OK? Vi, you mean everything to me-“

“Don’t call me Vi.”

He’s taken aback for a moment, and I can hear his rasping breath on the other end of the line, before he gathers himself again and tries. “Okay. Okay. Violet. I am so, so, sorry, and I never meant to hurt you.”

“Yeah, well,” I say. “That’s almost even worse, isn’t it?”

I hear more breathing, and then: “Why?”

“Because it means you weren’t thinking about me at all.”

“Vi,” he whines.


There’s a long pause.

“Look. Maybe we can talk about this in a few days, okay? Maybe once you’ve a bit of time, and painted a bit, and gotten out all the anger…”

I laugh. “Oh, I’ll make you a painting alright.” I cross to my easel, chuck aside the vague stabs at flowers there, and slash red on the canvas. “Wait for a minute.”

He waits, still on the line, and I hear his uncertain rasping breathing pressed to my ear. In a minute or so, I’m done, and I stand back, proud of my masterpiece. I carry it over and stand it by the window, lifting the blind to hold it up in sight.

“There. My aggression’s out. We’re done, Matt. Deal with it.”

He hangs up.

I keep the painting held up for a while so that I don’t have to watch him. When I take it away, I realize I’ve held it too close, and red paint has marked against the window in backwards font:








I glance, just to check he really is gone. He is. The roses have been thrown to the floor, bedraggled and broken.

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