Schrödinger’s Love Story

“Schrödinger’s Love Story” was inspired by the saying “pack up your life,” but when I wrote the first version in 2019, the emphasis was much more on discarding the past in exchange for a happier future. Two years later, I realized that the packed-up life must always be brought along, though altered and reduced by the compartmentalization of memory. This version was the outcome of exploring that concept to its literal extent.

We bought the trunk at a bottom-line clearance store—big enough for hiding a body, but we only wanted it to replace the newly jettisoned baggage from past lovers that contained our fathers’ heterosexual complaints. We lugged it home and set it up in the corner, the lid propped open like a hungry mouth, waiting to be filled, piece by piece, by our interests and our belongings and our love.

The secondhand flannels, smelling of wood fire and each other’s soap, went in. So did the paperback copies of Brontë, dog-eared and musty, and the punk-rock tapes, always with one inexplicably skipping track. You and I planted ourselves in that old leather case, our bones full of flowers to bloom into a new future. It will be different, I thought, from the grave Heathcliff wanted to share with Cathy. We supposed ourselves a new de- composition.

The seasons turned over, and the posters from the concert we went to on our first date came down, rolled up, tossed in. I found the bracelet I gave you for our second anniversary in the bottom corner, the clasp missing. The third night you came home drunk and smelling like some slimeball’s cologne, I pulled the vodka bottles from the cooler and threw them against the lid, where they shattered and flooded the room. You traded kisses in apology, but I peeled them from my lips and folded them inside, afraid that you might take them away again to give to someone else.

I spent the hours alone sitting in the square cavity, held by memories of weekend picnics and your face as you licked whipped cream off my nose. When you wanted to pull me along into your madding crowds, I stayed behind, preferring to listen to the records you no longer played. You called me delusional, trapped in nostalgia. I only shut the lid and thought instead about how the trunk’s bowed interior mirrored the curve of your spine.

You suggested counseling. You suggested therapy. You suggested I go to hell. But I wouldn’t be able to take the trunk there with me. It’s easier to fold myself up between the walls like a sleeping flower and breathe the air of our old laughter. I knew a time must come when I would stay here forever.

Pounding on the panels, you demand your life back, but it all belongs to me now. You will never get the keys to my lock.

Cressida Blake Roe is a biracial writer, whose chapbook, Grave-Maker, was awarded the 2020 jubilat chapbook prize. Her fiction can be found in X-R-A-Y, Chestnut Review, The Citron Review, Stone of Madness Press, and elsewhere.