I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. The words sunk into me as a dagger in my chest as I knew what would follow. There was no going back after this, and it had been my fault, and how I could have been so blunt was beyond me. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t true or that my intentions weren’t there. They believed it and now it was out there.
I looked at my friend sitting across from me at the table; I looked over at the sign hanging over the espresso machine. The jukebox was on a loop again but I was too caught up in thoughts that I didn’t even notice. We must have had a hundred and one gatherings here, all three of us. But she wasn’t here and I doubt she would have been up for a girl’s night out anytime soon. If only I had know what to say, there had to be some words meant for this exact moment, words that would make us all forget the situation and lead us right back to where we were before. There was something I could say that would fix this, but somehow for someone who always had an answer for everything I had become speechless, a complete mute. I looked into those sad brown eyes; I could tell he was just as awkward about this as I was.
“Look, I’m sorry. You have to believe me. That was never in my intention. I love you both, you know that. I would never…”
I had to stop myself, because just the thought of going through with that made me want to swallow my own brain.
“Beth, I believe you, I know this is crazy. But you have to understand, when under these circumstances. It makes people imagine things, things that normally would, well….”
He went further on talking about it, but my head had fallen out and I wasn’t even paying attention anymore. I was looking down at brownie sundae that hadn’t been touched too wrapped up in thoughts trying to hold back the tears. Seeing me cry would only make the situation worse. I know what I needed to do, I had to fix this. I would no longer cause more problems for anyone. Staring at his lips move I was begging to myself for the write words to magically make me say the right thing, at least something better than what I walked into.
“Maybe, we could all use some time apart. I’ll step away, so that we can work this out. A little space might be good right now.”
“Beth, that’s now what I meant. You’ve got to believe me”
And I did, but it didn’t matter. I looked at my brownie, the Sunday had melted and I had lost my appetite. I put my hat and scarf on and grabbed my purse as I got up from the chair.
“It doesn’t matter, we couldn’t avoid this. Everybody else saw it but us. It just can’t work.”
I looked over at the clock and closed my jacket. I couldn’t stay in here any longer, the tears were about to reach me and the coffee shop suddenly seemed like the smallest closet in a city apartment and we were all jammed inside.
“I actually have to go anyway, I have things to do and you should be getting back. We don’t want any more trouble. I won’t try to contact you in the near future, I’d appreciate it if you apply the same to me and don’t make this any harder than it already is. Don’t waste time worrying about, because I’ll be fine. Take care…”
As soon as I walked away I could hear him say something but I couldn’t catch what it was. My main concern was getting out and getting home. I had not walked more than half a block away before the tears finally broke out. After that my visions got sort of foggy and made my way through the crowd finding myself right back where I was a year ago. A place I hate so much, but a place that always gave me comfort.
I was alone.