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“500 Words” by Dave Pasquantonio

“You made it.”

“Sit down. I’m not hugging you. Especially here.”

“You always say the sweetest things.”

“You don’t deserve my sweetness. Do you know how many lies I had to spin to see you tonight?”

“Of course I do. The same number as me.”

“I’m so sick of the lying. Well, here I am. Now get it over with.”

“Get what over with?”

It. Ending it. That’s why you wanted to see me, right?”

“I’m not ending it. Why do you think I’m ending it?”

“You texted that you needed to see me tonight. Not wanted—needed. You never say needed. And your text was all serious. None of your usual adoration. You’re ending it.”

“I’m not ending it.”

“So I cried the whole way here for nothing?”

“You never cry for no reason. Sorry to disappoint. I’m not ending it. Far from it. We’re a—”

“Do not say we’re a couple. We are not a couple. We can never be a couple.”

“We define couple. Your words.”

“We’re married. To other people. We can never be a couple. My new words.”

“So call it something else. Make up your own noun. You know what we are. You know what this is.”

“I know what this could be. What it should be. And what it isn’t.”

“I’ve known from day one what this is. And so do you.”

“And now it’s day three thousand. And here we are. Still not a couple. Still not a noun. Still nothing.”

“I’m not ending it.”

“Maybe you should. Maybe I should. Ending it makes sense, in a horrible sort of way. Think of the pain we’ve caused each other. Think of the pain we can avoid causing other people.”

“Now you want to end it?”

“Of course not. I want it to start. I want to be with you forever. I don’t want it to end. But I need it to end. You’re content to wait until things change, but you’ll never change anything, so you’ll never end it, and you’ll leave it to me to do it.”

“How many times have you ended it?”

“Shut up.”

“Eight?”

“Shut up.”

“If you end it tonight, it’ll be nine.”

“I said shut up. You know what I hate?”

“Everybody?”

“Besides that. I hate the way you’re looking at me right now. Because all I ever wanted was for someone to look at me the way you look at me. And I can’t have you. Because you’re taken.”

“You’re taken, too.”

“If you weren’t taken, I wouldn’t be taken, is all I’m saying for the hundredth time.”

“All I ever wanted was for someone to look at me the way I look at you, too.”

“I do look at you like that.”

“You used to look at me like that. But you keep running away.”

“Then give me a reason to stop running away.”

“Okay. You can stop running away.”

What?”

“I’m no longer taken.”

What?!”

“Now that’s the look I’m talking about.”

© Dave Pasquantonio

About the Author: Dave Pasquantonio is a freelance writer and journalist (and a stay-at-home dad) living just south of Boston. He is a board member at The Writers’ Loft, a nonprofit writing community in Sherborn, Massachusetts, where he runs critique groups for aspiring and established authors. His work for children and adult readers has been published in anthologies and online and print journals, and he’s written nearly a hundred newspaper articles and features. He’s probably listening to classic rock as you read this. He’s at http://www.davepasquantonio.com.

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