There was this day when my one ex-girlfriend ever called my house and told me to come outside. She was in my driveway in a gleaming new car. I sat in the passenger seat and inhaled the new car smell.
“Did your mom get it for you?” I asked. We were in college and there was no way she could afford it on her financial aid alone.
“No, an insurance settlement I was waiting on came through.” She pulled out of the driveway onto the main road. “Let’s go to dinner. Anywhere you like.”
“Ok.” I put on my seat belt. “What was the settlement for?”
“Don’t worry so much,” she said as she squeezed my thigh with one hand. I still hadn’t gotten used to that with her and cringed.
Two months later, I still wasn’t used to her and she was suddenly worried. She showed up to lunch looking green. She told me the police in Miami had called her and wanted to talk to her. She started to cry.
“What do they want to talk to you about?” I frowned.
She told me about how she got that car, how she would get into car accidents on purpose to collect on the insurance. It was a whole ring that her friend’s mom organized. The jig was up and they were all going to be arrested. People at the restaurant stared at us as she openly cried.
I had no idea what to say. I had dated prep school boys and men who called their mamas back home in the Midwest up till that point in my life. I was mostly relieved that if she went to jail, I wouldn’t have to actually break up with her face to face. I told her to find a lawyer. I thought about the car accident I’d been in where I heard my boyfriend’s ribs crack. I didn’t hate her for what she had done, I just didn’t feel anything, especially not her hand on mine.
She turned on her friend’s mom and didn’t end up getting charged. She was ecstatic until I broke up with her a few weeks later. I felt nothing but relief. I saw her behind me at a red light a year later and waited to see if she would hit me. I looked back and she saw me. She turned right and I never saw her again.