She is terrified.

Her hands shake

and her knees bang together

like earthquakes.

Her heart beats

a million beats a minute.


Her mind runs possibilities.

She wants to rehearse

but when the time comes,

She forgets it all,

but sits him down.

He is calm,

steady.


She begins with,

“I love you.”

He smiles.

She never says this often.

Then says,

“I want you to listen.

I want you to hear me.

I don’t want you to say anything

and when I am done talking,

I want you to hug me,

say ‘it’s okay,’

and go back to playing poker.”

His confusion is evident,

but still,

he nods his head

and agrees.


She says,

“I love you,

but I can’t forgive you.

I can’t forget

all of those terrible things you did.

I can’t forget the holes in the walls,

from the force of your fist

and the strength of your anger.

I can’t forgive all of the names,

the things you called her,

my mother,

in front of her daughter.

I can’t erase all the broken hearts,

the promises you made

that were never fulfilled.

I can’t forgive you for any of it.


It was wrong.

You should have been here.

You should have been here

when she was missing,

when I couldn’t hold myself up

long enough to get out of bed.

You should have cried with me.

You should have been with me,

for all of it.

But you weren’t.

And for that I cannot forgive you.

I’m sorry,

I still love you.”


He stares.

His blood boils

at the thought of her blaming him.

He feels drained,

guilty,

and angry, all at once.

He remains quiet,

an upset look on his face.

He stands,

grabs her hand, pulls her up,

hugs her

and whispers in her ear,

“It’s okay,”

and walks away.


They will never speak of this again,

this she knows,

but she will always sense his anger,

His guilt, his weight,

sitting on top of him

like a boulder holding him to the ground,

breaking him.


She won’t forgive him,

because she knows there is still

that little ounce of him,

that ounce that feels nothing

and she can’t forgive

the nothingness.

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