The Last Thing He Told Me
Owen used to like to tease me about how I lose everything, about how, in my own way, I have raised losing things to an art form. Sunglasses, keys, mittens, baseball hats, stamps, cameras, cell phones, Coke bottles, pens, shoelaces. Socks. Lightbulbs. Ice trays. He isn’t exactly wrong. I did used to have a tendency to misplace things. To get distracted. To forget.
On our second date, I lost the ticket stub for the parking garage where we’d left the cars during dinner. We’d each taken our own car. Owen would later joke about this—would love joking about how I insisted on driving myself to that second date. Even on our wedding night he joked about it. And I joked about how he’d grilled me that night, asking endless questions about my past—about the men I’d left behind, the men who had left me.
He’d called them the could-have-been boys. He raised a glass to them and said, wherever they were, he was grateful to them for not being what I needed, so he got to be the one sitting across from me.
You barely know me, I’d said.
He smiled. It doesn’t feel that way, does it?
He wasn’t wrong. It was overwhelming, what seemed to live between us, right from the start. I like to think that’s why I was distracted. Why I lost the parking ticket.
We parked in the Ritz-Carlton parking garage in downtown San Francisco. And the parking attendant shouted that it didn’t matter if I claimed I’d only been there for dinner.
The fee for a lost parking ticket was a hundred dollars. “You could have kept the car here for weeks,” the parking attendant said. “How do I know you’re not trying to pull a fast one? A hundred dollars plus tax for every lost stub. Read the sign.” A hundred dollars plus tax to go home.
“Are you sure that it’s lost?” Owen asked me. But he was smiling as he said it, as if this were the best piece of news about me that he’d gotten all night.
I was sure. I searched every inch of my rented Volvo anyway and of Owen’s fancy sports car (even though I’d never been in it) and of that gray, impossible parking garage oor. No stub. Not anywhere.
The week after Owen disappeared, I had a dream of him standing in that parking lot. He was wearing the same suit—the same charmed smile. In the dream he was taking o his wedding ring.
Look, Hannah, he said. Now you’ve lost me too.
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