Sunday, February 7, 2016

It's Not You (Short Story)



An aroma of rich coffee filled the crowded café. Dim yellow lights colored the room-- cheerful with a hint of veiled depression. A woman and man sat in the far corner, next to a window. The woman had an untouched mug of cappuccino, and frequently turned away to gaze at the parking lot outside; the man took frequent sips of his plain expresso, his eyes intently on her expression. 

“I know that’s not what you want to hear,” she said, fiddling with the mug handle.
“I know it’s not what you really mean.” He took a large gulp of coffee and stretched his arms to his head.
“Jed, I know exactly what I mean. Don’t tell me what I’m thinking.”
“I know you, Sarah. You don’t really mean it.”
“Can we talk about something else?”
“Sarah, you can’t just change the topic after telling me that.”
“Let’s just talk about something else, and revisit the topic later.” She turned her head away from him. “There’s so many cars in the lot today.”
“It’s a Saturday afternoon, of course there are,” he said without looking. His eyes remained fixed on her.

Averting her eyes from his, she counted the number of red cars in the lot. 14.

“Sarah, you should drink that before it gets cold.”
“Don’t tell me what to do. God I hate it when you do that.” She sighed and rubbed her temples.
“Geez it was just a suggestion, Sarah. You know I can’t make you do anything.” He remained composed in the same open and relaxed posture, looking at her.
“I’m just done with this. With you. I’ve told you the truth. We’re done,” she says, agitated.
“Hey, it’s okay Sarah. Look at me. Look at me, Sarah, you can’t be serious.” His beseeching tone makes her finally lift her eyes to his.

A long second passed as they decipher each other’s gaze.

The man suddenly turned away, frowning. “Damn you. It’s true.”
A tear fell down the woman’s face. “I’m sorry Jed. I’m so sorry.”
“Damn you.” He knocked her mug to the ground; broken white shards amidst a lukewarm caramel puddle.
The woman started to cry harder, mumbling incoherent phrases. Wiping her face with one hand, she picked up her stained bag with the other. “Bye Jed.” She walks out of the coffee shop, still sniffling and breathing rapidly.

The man groaned and covered his face with his hands. Five minutes passed by. A dark haired man in an ironed white polo shirt, light brown pants, body cowered, face hidden in large masculine hands; a table for two with a knocked over chair; broken pieces of a mug floating above untouched coffee.

Finally, he lifted his head and looked out the window. There were no cars in the parking lot.