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    Overheard in a smallish diner where they served breakfast all day long were the subdued tones of a relationship dying. It wasn't very crowded, but his voice still did not carry well over the usual patrons' mundane stories. I assumed they were truckers although there wasn't a single 18-wheeler present in the parking lot. No one lived here in this town where the only skyscrapers were the overly tall McDonald's sign and the equally monsterish one for the dilapidated Econo Lodge. This was only a stop for tired motorists.

    "...and it could never be the same because you and I have changed so much while our relationship has changed so little..."

    Life seemed to stop where the fast food joints and the gas stations ended. I saw a few cars going further down the road and I wanted to run after them and tell them that it was useless. But I didn't. My slightly sadistic interest in the painful conversation kept me seated. My truant thoughts caused me to miss a few points and the words would fade into incomprehensibility and then suddenly become understandable again. It made for good listening.

    "...hear me? This is just a joke to you and I don't see why I'm even wasting my time..."

    There was a phone on the wall beside the booth which you had to pay to use. I thought of all the people I could call and tell about this little blurb on the highway which thinks it's a real town with real people, but I had no money. Back at the counter with the customers and their stories. They were made of the cheapest metal and I felt sorry for the couple who had to share the air waves with these automatic humans. He did all the talking. I wondered how long it took him to get here. Probably a long time--he must've had time to rehearse the speech that he was now reciting. I hated him for his preparedness.

    "The time we could relate to each other on different levels has passed. What else can we do?"

    A pause in his soliliquy. Why didn't she speak up? The men at the counter had left. Alone in the restaurant with only the expectant silence of the break-up I pretended to be absorbed in my cup of luke-warm coffee. It had burned my hands when I bought it but now when I touched it I only felt the deathly cold of ceramics. A schoolbus filled with children drove by. There's not a school here...no children...no playground. This place is so desolate and filled with such pain. I hated her for not speaking, for not defending her actions. He was from a town called Sedalia. What a beautiful name...I would name my first girl that.

    "Fine. If you don't even want to talk to me I'll just leave. This is the last time you'll ever see me. Good-bye."

    He left. I was alone now, save for the waitress whom I would pay for the coffee before heading back down the road past the McDonald's, turning right at the Econo Lodge, and continuing for 5 miles until I arrived at my house. It was quiet. There should be crying.

    I was completely alone. And I thought there should be tears.

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