The Happy Accident

Nonfiction by Marcella Yakalis

ser·en·dip·i·ty (srn-dp-t)
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

Your thermal lined jean jacket made me nervous. You looked like a tool, and I didn’t trust men. When I didn’t introduce myself, it was on purpose.

Still, I found myself telling you the way his eyes burned through my back in the hallways at work. The way you looked at me burned a different way.

When you asked me if I liked it rough, your voice changed. Your knock on my door a week later altered my pitch completely.

That first time in the daylight, when you made me breathe your name into the sunlight, it was an accident, the way my voice broke. You crooked your fingers like a question, the same way you tilt your head when you walk, like a puppy looking for something.

Shedding tears for you was never planned, but your hands on the back of my neck, and my lips on your thigh were.

Laying with you after wasn’t supposed to happen.

Talking about our families shouldn’t have been an option.

I shouldn’t have known about your six brothers, or how grumpy you get without your cigarettes.

I wasn’t supposed to be this kind of girl, but your jacket was borrowed and so was the time we spent together.

The truth is, I wanted to be things for you:

I wanted you to be things for me:
Easy to let go of.

Discovering your demons wasn’t in my plans. I wanted to keep you in my heart in the same place I keep the memories of watching TVLand reruns with my father, before he lost his love. But you found your way to a deeper place, where the tumors from my cousin’s stomach lined the walls like peeling wallpaper. I didn’t want you to be here, but your secrets coiled in my hair and caught me by surprise.

When you went for the throat, you didn’t know it would be the end of me. I thought I was stronger than this.

But I’m just a girl, and you were just an accident.

Marcella Yakalis is a first-year M.F.A. candidate in nonfiction writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

Featured Image photograph by E.B. Bartels,

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