You get people to tell you their stories about when and where they break up and what the major malfunction was that sent their relationship into a tailspin, and then you go to those locations and install little plaques without permission. The people of your town love looking under the tables at their diners to find a plaque that reads, “Jeffrey and Chitra. Broken up on these grounds December 5th, 2006. Jeffrey wanted kids. Chitra was looking for more of a cowboy type.” A lot of your plaques get removed, especially when you put them on park benches or other stuff owned by the town, but for the most part people are cool with it. Your town doesn’t really have any kind of historical society, so your obsession with relationship wreckage is the closest they get to a record of the life that’s being lived in your little hamlet.
Today you’re going to attach a plaque to a bus shelter that reads, “Alan and Olivia, May 16th, 2012. Alan cheated. Olivia inherited some money and it gave her a new perspective on what was available to her.” Alan will appear behind you and tap you on the shoulder and say, “You might not want to put that there. I’m going to get her back.”
Tell Alan, “You still broke up here. Even if you get back together.”
Alan will take a swing at you. Let him hit you. They always hit you. When they’re the ones who wish their name wasn’t on the plaque, they always hit you.
“Why do you do this?” Alan will shout down at you as you test the flow of blood from your nose.
Point to the plaque on the fence by the community garden. The one with your name on it, and the name Sylvia. The one dated October 12, 1991. “Thought he could do better. Not a day goes by when he isn’t stunned by how wrong he was,” it says.
“It’s important to me,” tell Alan. “These breakups can’t just be lost to time.”
“Some of us want to forget,” Alan will say.
Tell him he can forget what he wants. The town needs to remember.
“Love died in this town. Love died in this bus shelter. We can’t just sweep that under the rug.”
Alan will read his plaque, touching a finger to it and staining it with your blood. He’ll help you up and hand you your screwdriver. Then he’ll open his car door for you. You have three more plaques to put up before dinner. You’d better let him give you a ride.
Happy You’re The Town Breakup Memorialist Day!