Things I Want Back From You by Elizabeth Stix

Third prize winning story in the Best Opening Page competition

Fergus —

The following items belong to me:

1. My cell phone case. It’s blue with white sequins and I left it on the dresser by your closet. My carpal tunnel has completely flared up because it pinches my ulnar nerve to hold the phone when I walk and talk. I need the phone case back right now.

2. My instant dog bath washcloths. Niffy is stinky and I think it is bothering her and it is definitely bothering me and I won’t have time to give her a bath until Saturday. You know she produces more oil when she is itchy and it is flea season. The cloths are in the drawer above the dishwasher.

3. The photos from the Gualala trip. Please put them on a thumb drive. I don’t want to have to download them so please don’t send them via email. I want them all, not just the ones I took. I was there and I want to have them all.

4. My black backpack. It’s on the floor of your office. Please just put it aside and don’t dig through it. Please have some respect for my privacy. It’s just my papers from work but I have signed client confidentiality agreements and I would appreciate it if you would honor that, even though you didn’t honor any of our other agreements. Perhaps a legally binding agreement such as the ones I signed with my clients will mean more to you than the promises you made to me.

5. This is something you will probably not agree with. But I want some money for therapy. I have been talking about you for six sessions straight now, and I don’t think it’s fair that I should have to pay for it. If you had not slept with Daylene, I would not be wracking my brain trying to deal with you and all the pain you have caused me, and I could be working on much more productive things in therapy, things that benefit me, not this crap that is all about you. I have endured so much stress over this, I can’t even tell you. It has consumed my waking hours and I don’t even get any relief when I go to sleep because you visit me in my effing dreams, and I wake up and before I know it I am thinking about you again and again.

About the author: Elizabeth Stix is a writer based in California. Her work has appeared in many journals, including McSweeney’s, Tin House, Alaska Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine. Stories from her collection, Things I Want Back From You, have won the Bay Guardian Fiction Prize, the Katherine Manoogian Scholarship Prize, the Southampton Review Short-Short Fiction Prize (second place), and have been finalists for the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and the Boulevard Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers. They have been long-listed or semi-finalists for the Virginia Woolf Award, Disquiet fiction contest, Faulkner-Wisdom contest, and Sherwood Anderson contest.