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by Andrea Anderson

You’re the first love.

The second choice.

The third date backseat blowjob kind of girl — you have a great personality and look better without makeup. You’re the bittersweet nostalgia of simpler times, of threadbare cutoffs and the sting of a fresh summer sunburn, the whirring click of grainy black-and-white camcorder footage collecting dust in someone else’s attic.

Your happy ending is in the lost and found, and your better ending is bleached bones and a clean break — your heart in a pickling jar.

“It’s heart in a blender,” someone tells you, without even a hint of a shred of a hair-gel stained pocket square of irony. You’re in a bar; the lights are bright. It strikes you as counterproductive. “Like that song — what was it —”

Inside Out,” you say semi-automatically, like your voice is the grimy, ivory-handled pistol resting at a cowboy’s hip in a Saturday matinee shootout. “That’s what it’s called.”

The bartender slides another slightly flat gin and tonic towards you, cocktail napkin already damp. You don’t like gin, not really, but you keep ordering it, anyway, because it goes down slow rather than smooth and you have a somewhat complicated predilection for making things harder for yourself than they arguably need to be. There are psychological terms for that, probably, this slimy sticky Super Glue attachment you have to who you used to be — to the aspirations you retired, to the personalities you shed like the dried-out diamond-paned husk of an old snakeskin.

Failure to launch.

Arrested development.

(Those are movies, aren’t they?)

There’s nothing wrong with being the try-out; the practice run.

Your relationships always come prepackaged and predictable, with IKEA-simple instruction manuals and fake-deep, almost-sincere, red rose petals in a bathtub drugstore romance bullshit — and with training wheels, too, squeaking and flimsy and uneven and shrill. Just once, you don’t want “sorry” to be the punchline, the question mark, the ellipsis trailing dot-dot-dot to the exclamation point.

You want to hear a roar.

Andrea Anderson was born and raised in the part of Southern California that people were really, really interested in making TV shows about in the early-mid 2000s, and roughly 10 years after leaving still can’t decide if she misses it or not. Currently, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, as well as several cats, a dog, some deer, and the actual, literal bear who occasionally shows up to eat the wild blackberries in the backyard. She primarily writes young adult fiction, both short and long, and can be found on Twitter (@aa_nderson) as well as her personal website (www.aa-nderson.com).