Calculating Cost

Calculating Cost

Renee Ge | Art by Christy Yu

Well, it was $30.00 give or take for dinner and then $12.65 for the movies in the morning and then $60.00 for the train ride home in the dark. So that’s $102.65 for that weekend. But that had been a good weekend. She’d smiled a lot. You’d been reminded of it all over again—how it felt like hurtling straight into the trajectory of a burning star, sucked into its gravity field, and dancing around it like a tiny satellite. No escape. Not even a chance.

You vowed then to preserve it at all costs, saving it like how you carefully place a book on your shelf, taking it out to reread once in a while but more often just basking in the comfort of thinking about it and knowing that it’s there, tucked away and safe somewhere deep inside you. And it had stayed with you for at least a week or two, flitting across your mind and warming you even while you were off doing and thinking about other things.

So maybe it wasn’t $102.65. That warmth in your stomach felt similar to every time you first sipped on coffee. And that was two whole weeks’ worth of first sips. So the net cost was $102.65 minus fourteen times $3.00 — $60.65 spent on a weekend in August.

But didn’t you also spend those weeks feeling like you’d throw up any minute? Even if you’d gotten real first sips you wouldn’t have been able to swallow them down. At every unanswered text your hands would grow colder and shakier. The corners of your mouth would press into fine lines, and you would spend so many hours writing and rewriting the same few phrases. You knew it was bad but you just couldn’t stop.


Fear—that was the word. You’d lived in fear for those two weeks. So much time spent nearly paralyzed at the idea that she would leave you, and so much time hating yourself for it in moments of clarity. How much was that?


Forget the two weeks. There were moments before and moments after, and all of that added up. You’d remember things from months before and lose out on small pockets of time, and after you resurfaced with a cottony taste in your mouth you’d go and see her again. And on and on it went.


And what you had left to show for it all in the end was boxes and boxes of information in the back of your mind—favorite store, schedule, topics that angered her—that you’d never use again, and time and money wasted. That feeling too, gone. In the end, you’d lost.