“You just left,” Craig stated simply, no trace of anger or accusation in his baritone voice. I watch as he wiggles out of his heavy winter coat. The waitress, a tired woman whose face maps out her life’s hardships, gives a smile as she pours coffee in his cup. He waves her away, irritated, when she attempts to ask if we want anything else. For the briefest of moments, I see hurt wash over her features. Anger surges in my heart at him. My eyes follow her as she turns towards the counter. I wonder what her story is and if she’d be willing to trade lives for just one day.
There aren’t many of us in the run down diner. The cook, sitting at the counter, stares into space, a cigarette burning dangerously close to his yellowed fingers. In the corner, away from any possibility of human interaction, sits a young man, focused, a pen in hand trying to keep up with his flurry of thoughts.
I look at Craig. I think about his rude gesture to the waitress. He looks at me as if to say he knows what I’m thinking. How many times have we argued over his rudeness to people who wait on us, I wonder. It’s not as if he were born with a silver spoon in his mouth or privileged in some capacity the rest of us mere ‘commoners’ aren’t. I strongly suspect it is Craig’s own fear of being inferior which makes him target those he thinks might be a little beneath him.
“I turned around to pay and you were gone.” Again, his voice holds no accusations or anger at my trademark disappearance from the line at the movie theater.
I sigh, take a sip of my coffee. I have nothing to say to Craig. We’ve spent the last few weeks arguing the way a couple does as a relationship is on its deathbed. We’ve slung ugliness and immaturity at one another, creating places of contempt, leaving no room for true forgiveness. At least on my part. Craig seems to let painful words and arguments roll from his back without much problem. I, on the other hand, take the words to heart much as if they were delivered on a dagger.
I stare into his grey eyes and my heart bursts into a million pieces as I accept, after tonight, I’ll never see him again.
He stares at me, searching for a sign. He knows me better than I know myself at times. He knows my silence isn’t a good thing. He can handle me disappearing because it’s what I do. He struggles to find the words to a conversation he hopes will place us on even ground again. He looks sad as he reaches for the menu. The waitress glances our way. I give her a smile, discreetly hold one finger up to allow Craig time to make his decision. She nods and turns to say something to the cook, who looks our way.
Craig clears his throat. “I think I’ll have some pancakes. It’s been awhile since I’ve had breakfast for dinner,” he says. He sips from his cup, keeping his eyes on my face.
I nod and smile in the direction of the waitress and cook. She reluctantly pushes herself from the stool and heads our way. Craig reaches into his charm bag, as if to make up for the earlier discretion and places his order. I shake my head when her eyes turn swing my way. I glance at the clock behind Craig; my heart speeds a little in anticipation. Soon, I will need to slip out the door and head to the bus station.
Endings are a funny thing, I think. We both know it’s been over for weeks. Yet, we still fought, as if to save the love we once had. I think of the quote, ‘Don’t worry when I argue with you, worry when I stop because it means there’s nothing left to fight for.’
I think of all the couples we’ve known throughout our relationship. Some, still together, others not. Arrogantly confident in the beginning of creating our history together, late nights whispering how we were different. We wouldn’t travel down the same roads as the fools before us. I struggle to pinpoint the exact moment we became the fools we once judged. My mind is blank. There is no one certain event. It is a mesh of time, words, and broken promises.
As his food arrives, I excuse myself saying I need to use the restroom. I give him a quick kiss on his stubbly cheek. I make the pretense of heading to the restroom, slipping out through the exit door next to it, almost wishing things could have been different.
This week, at The Lightning and the Lightning Bug, Flicker of inspiration #59: Wishing prompt fit in great with a random story that sprang into my mind.