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          “It’s Not Your Fault”
He’s not sleeping much,
These days,
He finds himself,
Waking up,
At 2 or 3 in the morning,
Refighting the same battles,
With different arguments,
Over and over again,
Trying to come up with,
Something he could have said,
That would have made her,
Change her mind,
But she was very,
Matter of factual,
And to the point,
When she laid out,
Her case.
“I’m Sorry”,
“I don’t love you anymore”,
“It’s not your fault”,
“It’s mine”.
She had been dreading,
That night,
She no longer loved him,
But she didn’t want,
To hurt him.
There was a time,
When he was all,
That she could think about,
But that lasted,
Less than a month,
Followed by a month of,
Just to have someone,
She liked there for her,
Along with all the other,
Sexual benefits,
Of having a steady man,
In her life.
But less than,
2-months in,
She knew,
She had to get out,
And fast.
It was not uncommon for him,
To be out driving,
The empty city streets,
In the middle,
Of the night,
Not since,
She felt,
The need,
To enlighten him,
On how she really felt,
About him.
Though he wouldn’t,
Believe it,
There had to be,
More to it,
Another man,
Another woman,
Something he did,
Or should have done.
He had spent,
Endless hours,
Going over,
And analyzing,
Every minute,
Of every day,
Of the last,
Two months.
It had to be,
In their,
The answer to,
Why their relationship,
Didn’t work out.
She didn’t understand,
What he couldn’t understand,
The endless,
Phone messages,
And texts,
All with the same,
Core questions,
What did I do,
Please give me,
Another chance.
She had thought about,
Telling him,
She had met,
Someone else,
Complete with a back story,
And a picture,
A pond request.
But she never cared,
All that much,
For lies,
They just took,
Too much energy,
To continuously spin,
She didn’t do,
Anything wrong,
She just didn’t,
Love him anymore.
She was going to,
Ask him,
If he were to,
Walk up to,
A total stranger,
And ask her,
If she loved him,
And if her reply was,
Would he stand there,
And argue with her,
As to how,
That could be,
It just was.
She saw everything,
In black and white,
The switch was,
Either on,
Or it was,
And this switch,
Was most definitely,
He’s been driving,
For well over an hour,
And in that time,
He has digested,
And regurgitated,
Those last 2-months,
With her,
And worked his way,
Right up to the night,
Of her departure.
His mind grabs hold,
Of something she said,
“It’s not your fault”,
“It’s mine”.
Every time he thought,
About those words,
He always wondered,
Who was the first,
To ever,
Utter them.
She was absolutely brilliant,
He assumes it was,
A woman,
Only because,
No man would have been,
Smart enough,
To knowingly lay the blame,
On himself,
To stop the endless flood of,
“What did I do wrong?”
How powerful,
Of a statement,
That must have been,
That very first time,
That first break-up,
When it was used,
He must have been,
Completely stunned,
“Were Breaking-Up”,
“And She Admits”,
“It’s Her Fault”,
“Not Mine”.
That phrase is so,
Common place,
Have been put,
Into place,
As to how,
To respond,
And counter that action,
“Don’t Lay That”,
“Reverse psychology”,
“Bulls--t On Me”,
And so then,
The argument would continue,
In it’s endless,
Back and forth volleys,
But that first,
That must have been,
Funny thing,
No matter how,
Twisted his heart is,
How long,
He has been driving,
The empty streets,
Trying to figure out,
His past mistakes,
Or unfulfilled promises,
Over the last 2-months,
Of how it all,
Went wrong,
When he gets to,
The part,
Where she says,
“It’s not your fault”,
“It’s mine”,
He can’t help,
But think,
That was one of,
The best,
Break-up lines,
In the history of,
She gets home,
And the first thing,
That she sees,
Is the flashing red light,
From her answering machine,
She didn’t know why,
She still had a land line,
No one ever calls it,
Expect for him,
Knowing she’s at work,
That he’ll have,
An uninterrupted,
30-seconds of time,
To plead or deal,
Beg or threaten,
His way,
Back into her life.
She walks over to,
The machine and phone,
And unplugs them both,
The brightly flashing red-3,
Without a sound.
She wonders how,
A quick drink after work,
And a witty young man,
Turned into her version,
Of the never ending story,
Only the final chapter,
Of this book,
Is in the middle,
And everything said,
Or written afterwards,
Is totally pointless,
He just won’t quit writing,
Useless dialogue.
She grabs her cell,
Canceling her home phone service,
But she has some old friends,
That might only have,
That number,
She could send out,
With her cell number,
But how long till,
She’s changing that also.
And her E-mail account,
Is already buried under,
In his endless streams,
Of what will soon become,
Just unread,
Deleted letters,
Even though they are,
Filled with,
His most honest of pain,
And deepest true feelings,
Using words that,
He spent hours,
Crafting together,
Trying desperately,
Just to open,
A little window,
Into her heart.
But without a second,
Of hesitation,
She’ll click,
Select all,
And hit delete,
Without even reading,
A single word,
In the subject line,
Of any of them.
It’s 3:29am,
As he pulls into,
An AM-PM mini mart,
For gas,
And a reason,
Just to get out,
Of his car.
He walks into,
The brightly lite,
Completely deserted,
Mini mart,
Looks over at,
A very heavy set lady,
Behind the counter,
Who can’t be,
More than a biscuit,
From 300-pounds,
Sitting on a tiny little,
Wooden stool,
Reading what looks to be,
A book on weight loss,
As he walks by,
Towards the energy drinks.
He can’t seem to find,
His drink,
He’s sure,
They have them,
All AM-PM’s,
Carry them.
160mg of caffeine,
Squeezed into a 16oz can.
He walks up to,
The counter,
Pushes a twenty,
Towards her,
And asks,
“Do you have any”,
“NOS in the back?”
She just gave him,
A blank stare,
And asked,
“What’s the twenty for?”
“Put it on pump #3”
“Did you have any?”
“In the back?”
“Any what?”
She looked up,
“I’m on the back end”,
“Of a 16-hour shift”
“I ain’t walking”,
“So do you want gas?”
“Or Not?”
“Twenty on #3”,
He starts to walk out,
Stops at the door,
And then turns towards,
The very heavy set lady,
On the tiny little stool,
And quips back,
“I Don’t Know”
“What Chapter You’re On?”
“But I Bet Walking”
“Was Covered Somewhere”,
“In Chapter One!”
“Instead of Counting”,
“Your Steps”,
“You Should Snap”,
“Your Fitbit”,
“To Your Jaw”
“And Start Counting”,
“You’re Bites!”
And with that,
He bowed,
Spun around,
And headed to,
The pumps.
He was feeling,
Quite proud,
About his little,
As he pumped,
His twenty dollars,
Worth of gas.
Till the pump,
Clicked off,
At $15.00,
He looked up,
And into,
The well lite,
AM-PM mini mart,
At a very heavy set,
Sitting on a tiny little,
With a big,

Smile on her face.
He quickly looks away,
Trying to pretend,
He doesn’t notice,
What just happened,
But they both know,
Fat lady,
On the tiny little,
Won that round.
She sets her cell phone,
Back down,
And looks out of,
Her apartment window,
Down below she sees,
A handsome young man,
Waiting for a cab,
She grabs a piece of paper,
A black pen,
And begins to write,
“His name is Alex”,
“He’s 6’2”,
“And works uptown”.
She spent,
The rest of the day,
And late into the night,
Working on her cover story.
His name was Alex,
She described his appearance,
In such detail,
It could only have come,
From someone,
That had shared a bed,
With him.
His job as an agent,
For more than a few,
Well known,
But nameless,
Hollywood actors.
She talked about,
Their chance meeting,
Sharing a taxi,
In the rain,
Only halfway through,
A truly riveting story,
About a very special client,
When they got to,
His stop,
Dying to hear,
The ending,
Happy to finish it,
For her,
Over dinner.
She goes on to write,
About a love,
So powerful,
Never in her life,
Has she felt,
A love bond,
So strong.
She continued to write,
About things they’ve done,
And places their going,
She included so much,
And depth,
That no one reading this,
Could blame her,
For falling madly,
In love with him.
She ends the letter,
“I’m sorry”,
“I don’t love you anymore”,
“It’s not your fault”,
“It’s mine”,
Then she,
Signs it,
Neatly folds it up,
And puts it in,
A plain white envelope.
He had forgotten,
All about his battle,
At the AM-PM,
Less than a block,
When the radio,
Decided to make his night,
A little bit more,
By playing that one song,
That always,
Made him think,
About her,
And what there,
Might have been,
Only it wasn’t,
That one song,
It was more like,
That one list,
Which included,
This one song,
And well over,
A 100 other songs,
And it just kept growing,
Every single day.
He turned left,
Into an even deader part,
Of the city,
Deciding to start,
Back at day one,
And relive this mess,
One more time.
The sun had been up,
For an hour or so,
His head was throbbing,
From lack of sleep,
And the harsh,
Morning light.
As he pulled into,
His parking space,
He climbs out of his car,
Feeling a little wobbly,
From sitting so long.
He walks towards,
His apartment,
And as he passes,
The other doors,
He notices,
How few people,
Still get the newspaper,
That he,
Just now takes notice,
Of this,
Being that,
Other than himself,
The people delivering the paper,
In their own,
Personal cars,
Are some of,
The only people he sees,
Driving around,
At 3:00am in the morning,
Why did that take,
So long for him,
To see?
When he got,
To his door,
He saw a,
Plain white envelope,
Stuck in the door jam,
He grabbed it,
As he unlocked,
His door,
And walked in.
A faint smell of garbage,
Hung in the air,
As he walked over,
And got a can of,
Out of the refrigerator,
He sat down,
On his old,
Beat up sofa,
And opened the,
Plain white envelope,
A shutter,
Went through his body,
As soon as he,
Saw that it was,
Her hand writing,
He began to read,
His heart dying,
A little more,
With every word,
He read,
Till it was just,
A bloody pulp,
No longer flinching,
With every sentence,
His eyes,
Roamed across,
The painful words,
Now striking against,
An unfeeling mass,
Of dead memories.
Two thirds of the way,
The letter,
He says out loud,
“I Knew It Had To Be”,
“Another Man”,
“I Just Knew It”.
Yet he felt,
A strange calm,
Came over him,
As soon as he spoke,
Those words,
The answer,
To so many of,
His questions,
Finally laid out,
Before him.
And as he reads,
Those final,
Last words,
Of the letter,
“It’s Not Your Fault”,
“It’s Mine”.
He couldn’t help,
But think,
Absolutely Brilliant!
I wonder who,
She was,
That very first time.
He ponders that,
For a moment,
As he lets the letter,
Fall from his hand,
And grabs a tattered,
Old blanket,
Crumpled up,
At the far end,
Of the sofa,
He pulls it across,
His body,
As he stretches out,
On top of the,
Weathered sofa,
And waits,
For what he hopes,
Will come,
      Tom Allen…04-15-2017…