Oceans

Jaimie Gleissner

 

“Hi.”
She looked up from her book.
“I thought I’d sit, and we could talk.”
Her attention was granted to the novel sitting in front of her as the man slid into a chair on the opposite side of the café table.
“I thought we were cool.”
“We are,” she didn’t look up from her book.

 

He sat back in the broad iron chair with a surreal stillness and stared. Tension pitted up in her stomach. She wanted to leave, but her legs were water like the oceans that separated their chairs. Scooting forward, she set her book face down on the table.
“Why are you here?”
“I wanted to talk,” his posture stayed casual.
“Can it wait?”

 

He scrunched one eyebrow down and pursed his lips to one side. She picked up her novel and continued reading.
“I’m not gonna sit here forever.”
“You shouldn’t be sitting here at all.”
“Will you at least hear me out?”
“You’re still talking aren’t you?”
“Put the book down.”
She glanced up from the pages reluctantly.
“I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re not. You’d make the same choice a thousand times.”
“I didn’t think this would happen. I didn’t know you’d take it so hard.”
“You left. You shouldn’t even be sitting across from me right now.”

 

The cool breeze rustled the napkins on the table; she nabbed one before it flew off.
“What else do you want me to say?”
“Something sincere.”
“I didn’t want to leave.”
“You didn’t want to stay.”
“There wasn’t anything here for me.” He gazed to the west where the local road ran towards the interstate. Again, she focused on her book.
“You should have stayed,” she said after a moment.
“I couldn’t.”
“Can’t you just come back?”
He remained distant in his chair.
“Please?” Tears welled in her eyes as she set her book down and leaned forward, reaching her hands into the center of the table. He reached out to comfort her but stopped himself before departing from the café.

 

She blinked the tears back and stared at the empty seat. The breeze blew the last napkin from the table as she shoved her novel into her bag. As if he would still be across from her, she glanced up expectantly, but it was like he’d never been there at all.

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