While I am packing up the bathroom I think, I will be better than Martha.
Martha-whom-I-barely-know-but-who-took-everything-including-the-half-used-roll-of-toilet-paper-when-she-left-Ryan. Or, so I was told when I took Ryan shopping for bedding. “Why don’t you have bedding?” I asked while entering the pillow aisle. “Martha took everything, including the half-used roll of toilet paper.” I nodded and turned the corner to a new aisle. This was a situation with which I was familiar. Cleaning up the aftermath of disaster, making lives whole.
I want to be better than Martha. I will leave everything that my partner (Former or late? Can I say late partner if he is not dead? What if he is to me?) could ever imagine using. I want him to think about me every time he uses the toilet paper, or the Q-tips, or the matches I used to light the candles on our nightstand. I want him to remember me every time he breathes in the space I used to inhabit, the space we used to inhabit together. I want his nicotine-stained lungs to struggle in that space, as I am struggling. And, if he chooses to throw these items away, I hope it pains him. I hope it wastes his time and causes him anguish. I am different than Martha. I want my ex to relive my memory every day, not just once, when he realizes that everything is gone.
And, so, this is what moving on looks like for me: I will leave the tampons so that he remembers that once I was there bleeding between my legs, something I taught him about. I will leave the wool Marlboro blanket I got at a yardsale that he once took when he ran away and only left a note that said “I’ll be in contact if you matter”. I will take the bed, our bed, but put in place the cot we had in the guest room and dress it so painstakingly perfect that it will make him sad. I will take the large bed full of love, but leave what equates to half. His alimony. Leaving reminders of me is the last part of the magick spell of moving on.
The first time I did magick, real magick, was when we broke up a year ago. The spell I cast, submerged deep below the water of my parent’s bath tub, surrounded by candles and crystals and the fear of being alone, was to bring him back to me if it was for the greater good of everyone involved. It was not meant to be entrapping, rather to bring cosmic direction, and it worked for a while. It brought him back for a full year, or perhaps longer. We were never good at keeping track of dates, confirmed by the anniversaries that passed uncelebrated, unacknowledged. That year was hell and it was bliss. A year of commitments, drunk proposals, plans of babies named Darla and Forest. And, what I learned was that magick is powerful, and that forgiveness is too. Five minutes after the magick he called: “I don’t know why but I cannot be without you and I will have to get over this,” he said. I almost didn’t hear him over the radio, Joan Baez crooning “The Riddle Song”. I gave my love a story that had no end. We’re going to make it, I thought.
What makes a person decide that trying to make it work does not serve them anymore? I think that question is rhetorical. I am married to the idea of trying, of kneeling in the dirt and working. Maybe I like that idea more than who is next to me, planting the seeds. Or, maybe I just never had a co-farmer I can trust. Someone who would harvest the crop with me, or for me when I can’t be there to help. Someone who would not pass out in my field of dreams, or litter it with their half empty Yuengling bottles filled with spent cigarette butts. When I did the spell a second time, a few months ago after he ran again, he came crawling back to bed the next day but it was not the same. The spell had broken. The story had an end and this was it.
Where I think Martha went wrong, and where I went right, is that I did not run. Instead, I stayed in the relationship till he ran. I sat and cast my spells, and set my intentions, and forgot about them, and put out more energy than I had, and felt everything, and felt nothing, depending on the day. But, I stayed and that makes me better than him or Martha because I am doing both the work and the magick.
A quick search of the internet has told me that Martha is married now, and she has brown hair, and a child. That sounds a lot like me, but without the marriage and the child. So, we aren’t that different after all. We both have brown hair. What the search didn’t cull up is how many times she ran from her husband, if at all, and which household items she took each time she left. And, if I am better than her, or if I will be soon.
Incantation: May life bring to me the goodness that I deserve, for the good of myself and everyone involved.
Corrin Magditch is a Quaker, witch, and writer from the mountains of Pennsylvania, and one member of the founding trio that makes up Many Mothers Collective and LV Zinefest. Her work has been previously published by Rag Queen Periodical, Eunoia Review, and self-published in countless docs on her Google Drive that will probably never be read by eyes other than her own. Corrin is also the author of three self-published zines. When she is not writing books for herself, she is busy knitting, reading, or watching Scandinavian crime dramas.