It’s dark when I pull into my ex’s driveway, his multi-coloured christmas lights blinding my eyes even though it’s May. He’s the last man to have touched my breasts and I’m concerned about a lump-type-thing I felt in my armpit when I was showering after my second job, so I drove here on a whim but now that I’m here, I’m sort of regretting it.
What used to be my dog, but is now 50% his dog, just like our fifty-percent-kids, barks like I’m trying to break in, so I turn off the ignition and walk up the front steps, scowling at the gaudy lights. I push the door open after a cursory knock and find my ex standing on the landing with a bottle of wine in his hands, looking surprised I’ve gained entry on my own but I’ve never gotten used to this house not being half mine and if he doesn’t like it, he should move.
“Hey,” I say, unzipping my hoodie and pulling up my t-shirt. I don’t want to be here any more than he wants me here by the look on his face, but he knows my breasts better than anyone and right now that is the super-power I need somebody to embody.
“What are you doing?” he hisses, slapping at my hands.
“I felt a lump…,” I start but stop when a mess of blonde hair attached to a pretty-pretty woman’s head appears over the bannister.
“Hey,” I say toward the head. “I’m…”
“Lisa,” my ex says. “Lisa, this is Jane, Jane this is Lisa.”
The hand attached to the pretty-pretty waves like a stutter.
“I felt a lump…” I start, holding onto my ex’s shoulder for support while toeing off my boots.
“I’m busy,” my ex says at the same time Jane says, “where did you feel the lump?” and pretty soon they’re sitting squished side-by-side on the loveseat with my dog and I’m perched on the coffee table in my grubbiest sweat pants and most hideous tan bra I never thought anyone would see again, facing their awkward faces. Part of me wants my ex to remove my bra like he used to with one hand and a twist and part of me never wants him to touch me again.
“The lump?” he prompts but I’m a little frozen by pretty-pretty’s half smile and the sound of the playlist I made my ex at least five years ago blowing out from his speaker.
“Are you sure it’s not that fat tissue thing from when you were nursing?” he asks, which snaps me back to the present moment, so I ask, “where are the boys?” and he and pretty-pretty stare at me, him with the bottle of wine in his hand, her with the half-smile, until the silence is really too much and I unclasp my bra and display my tiny tits for both to see.
“Here,” I say, pointing at the spot which is still rubbed red from my preliminary investigation.
His cheeks flush a similar shade. “Why don’t you just go to the doctor?” he asks.
Me and pretty-pretty stare at him.
“May I,” she asks, offering out her of-course-perfectly-manicured hands, and my ex and I both stare at them like they’re secret weapons and I can only imagine all of the things he wants them to do to him.
I shrug and he bites his lip.
“Do that thing we’re meant to do where you bend your arm over your head,” she says and I comply.
My ex actually gasps like a loser when she touches me, her fingers surprisingly cold on my skin, and I’m reminded how my ex’s mum used to clasp my always-cold hands in hers and say cold hands warm heart whenever I saw her and I’m stoked for a second that at least this pretty-pretty may stop my ex-mother-in-law from dying of a broken heart.
“Could you pour us some wine?” pretty-pretty asks my ex and he stares like he wishes he could throw darts at me like we used to throw darts together on league night down at the local.
Pretty-pretty massages my breast in a circular motion, starting in my armpit and moving clockwise which is inline with what my doctor told me when I was thirteen and finally being told it wasn’t that bad to touch yourself. I try and distract myself and end up wondering if pretty-pretty would make a good mum to my kids if breast cancer does indeed take me down and decide I don’t have enough information yet. Willingness-to-touch-breasts isn’t really kid-raising criteria.
My ex reappears with three glasses of wine, his glass obviously already drunk from, and pushes the other two toward us.
“Well?” he asks and I raise my brows, say, “she doesn’t really know the baseline,” to which he rolls his eyes.
“They feel different than mine,” pretty-pretty says, and I look at her perky-much-larger spread, wonder if anyone has ever sucked on her nipples before and decide probably not.
“Could you just…” I say, widening my eyes at my ex like I used to when I wanted to communicate needing something without words.
“He knows them better than anyone,” I say toward pretty-pretty who nods like she gets it, and it occurs to me how sad it is that I don’t have someone anymore. Someone to check my breasts when I’m worried about random changes, someone to notice if my shoes aren’t at the door when I’m meant to be home, someone to set the coffee up for the next morning when I’ve forgotten.
“Last time, I promise,” I say, jutting my chest in his direction.
Pretty-pretty nods at my ex, and he hesitantly reaches out like he did during those last few weeks of our marriage when I was like yes-no-yes-no-maybe-so about our shit, because sometimes it’s hard to end something that was, at one point, all right.
He sighs, extending his hands forward and I don’t know what I’m expecting when his skin touches my skin, definitely not spontaneous combustion or butterfly metamorphosis or a tidal wave, but something, and when he says, “I don’t feel anything,” I say, “me neither,” and really mean it.

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