It’s been years in coming, but I finally decide to break up with myself before Valentine’s Day. I thought it would save me the cost of buying myself a heart-shaped card, a heart-shaped box of candy, or a dozen roses in heart-red colors. But there’s a real problem. My phone number is still on my cell phone, and sometimes I call myself and hang up before I can answer it.

Sometimes even my pants pocket butt dials me, and I leave myself an unintended voice message right at the moment I am slurring some stupid line such as “As God is my witness, I will be mine forever” or recounting the moments that made me first fall in love with myself: Paris, walking through the Tuileries Garden on a brisk day, stopping at Angelina’s tea salon on the rue de Rivoli to get the best chocolat chaud in the world, hot chocolate so dark, creamy and thick that it could almost be called pudding, and their signature pastry, the Mont Blanc, a so perfectly simple patisserie made of cream of chestnut, fromage blanc, and meringue. The moment I licked the fresh whipped cream and chocolate off of my own sweet lips, I knew I was meant for me.

Then there were the other times where I caused myself misery…when I found the slip of paper hidden in my E.M. Forster novel, A Room With A View, and recognized in my own handwriting the message “Must find Christian intellectual nymphomaniac on eHarmony.com.” What a catastrophe I was with me. Together, I would have pointed out the word cat in catastrophe and whispered the sound a cat makes. Me-Ow. Like the pain I gave myself. Me-Ow! Like how it still hurts me. Me-Ow! And how I want to make the right mistake and dial my own phone number, and this time I might just answer.

Allen Woodman has published six books of fiction, including Saved by Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald, a collection of humorous short stories for adults, and The Cows Are Going to Paris, a children’s picture book (w/David Kirby, selected for Doubleday and Literary Guild Book Clubs).  He has published scores of short stories in magazines and anthologies, including Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Sudden Fiction Continued (Norton), Flash Fiction Funny, Mirabella, Washington Post, Passages North, and Story. His stories have been heard on NPR’s Selected Shorts and at Symphony Space (NYC).  He teaches creative writing at Northern Arizona University.

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