Editor’s note: This story, despite being very real, is fictional.
I should’ve known as soon as he suggested driving separately.
We always drive here together, have every Saturday since the start of our relationship. I buy the coffees so we don’t fall asleep at the table and he jokes with the middle-aged waiter that laughs at our hangovers while taking our orders: Pancakes for me and eggs for him. The waiter walks away. We chuckle at our predictability. I’m okay with it because I’m in love.
Saturday morning is practically written in stone.
So as soon as he disrupted our ritual, threw an audible my way, suggested what I never fathomed suggesting, I should have had an inkling. An inkling of an inkling, a blink-and-you-might-miss-it shift in the plate tectonics of our four years together. But I blinked. And I missed it.
And now we’re here, in this booth, and instead of arriving as a couple we arrive as potential ex-lovers and instead of ordering eggs sunny side up he orders a black coffee presumably to keep this short. Instead of relishing in the fact that the wait staff finds us hilarious I want to hide my face from them and sink into the booth cushions and hopefully stay there forever. Life is unpredictable. And love is fickle.
He doesn’t love me anymore, he says. I stare at my food. He’s been meaning to tell me for a while, he says. I take a sip of my coffee. He hopes we can still be friends, he says. I look at the crumbs accumulating on the napkin on my lap. His hand comes across the table toward mine. I pull away, nudging my plate a fraction of an inch to the right as I do so. Plate tectonics. Blink, and you might miss it.
He brought me here for the first time four years ago. I had the previous night’s makeup under my eyes and he had to pull over twice on the way to throw up. Still, I was convinced life had never looked so beautiful. I ate a full stack of pancakes slathered in maple syrup and everything was sweet: The boy, the food, the beginning.
But now the syrup tastes sickening, like artificial sweetener. It looks darker in here than it did before. I can’t get this sour taste out of my mouth, the whole time he talks, no matter how hard I try.
Blink, and it’s over.
Brigid Kennedy lives in New York, hails from Pittsburgh and studies television, radio, and film. Her passions include storytelling (both written and visual), comedy and breakfast food. Say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read Hundreds of Words by Brigid Kennedy here.