I was standing outside a pharmacy.
I don’t know why my brain has deemed that detail relevant to what happened next – but alas – I cannot reflect on the memory without seeing the sign for a slightly rundown suburban pharmacy.
It was also sticky. The way it only is in December or January. Sweat pooled at my lower back and settled across my hairline.
My phone rang and it was my boyfriend. Well – kind of. If someone had asked me at the time if I had a boyfriend, I’d have said yes. If someone had asked him if he had a girlfriend at the time, he’d likely have said no. He wasn’t sure if this was a relationship he wanted to be in anymore, but leaving it would have taken a level of courage and maturity he hadn’t yet found.
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We talked about nothing in particular, and I probably asked a question about how he felt.
“It’s just…” he said, pausing. “You’re like, a seven out of 10, I’d say.”
He paused again, as though to ensure his words were just right.
“And Hailey. She’s a nine. Maybe even a 10.”
I knew as those words were said out loud, that this relationship was over. Even if he changed his mind, or tried to convince me he said things he didn’t mean, it was over for me. I was 20, and we’d been dating for about 18 months. We’d just got back from a two-month trip together.
I knew what Hailey looked like, obviously. I had Instagram and Facebook and I’d probably even googled her. They’d been friends for years, which seemed to be her decision, not his.
She was taller than me, thinner than me, more beautiful than me, likely had more money than me, the list went on. I suppose if we were objectively rating people’s superficial value (hang on… why were we doing that?) then Hailey was a 10 out of 10.