By Raoul Suarez

She ordered a mocha latte. Hot. No sugar. I got myself the same. I asked her if she wanted a cake or any sort of bread to go along with it but she smiled and waved her hand in refusal. We are creatures of habit. She would get the same old coffee every time and I would indulge her and have what she’s having. Nothing unusual. Nothing out of the ordinary. It was going to be just a short conversation. Just plain talk.

It has been a year or two since then. We had some topics to discuss. We had some scores to settle. She opened the conversation and I listened intently.

I should have ended it. That hard and bitter goodbye. It was supposed to be my line. I’ve always told myself that I should be leaving but I found it so hard to put an end to things. You can lie to a lot of people but you can never lie to yourself. No matter how much you try to make yourself believe in the stories you have created in your head. Self-deception is a very hard trick to learn. It just doesn’t work that way.

I have always known that it was never going to be me but I do not know why I would just sit there and wait; hoping and banking on that probability – a slim chance of us having a life together. Somehow, we all want to be the choice, but we sometimes end up as the option. Relationships are complicated. They sometimes end well, but they also do not end the way we picture them to be. I told myself it wasn’t so bad at all. I lied. I knew I was lying. You can never just walk away from someone who means everything to you and you wish they would do the same. It just doesn’t work that way.

The car stopped right in front of the old cafe. I told her I’d take care of the bill. She mouthed a gentle thank you and went on her way. A well-dressed man got off from the driver’s seat and waited at the door situated at the front passenger’s side. She greeted him with a soft warm kiss on the cheek before he opened the door for her. Afterwards, she turned to wave goodbye before she entered the vehicle. She never bothered to roll the windows down after the doors were closed. She didn’t have to. It wasn’t necessary.

My coffee was cold. I downed it in one go and got lost in the inner recesses of my mind yet again. I sat there staring blankly at the portrait hanging on the wall. I sat there and I wondered. I asked myself a couple of things that did not really have a definite answer. I was a fool. I should not have taken that gamble. I knew I wasn’t going to win it and the stakes were high. I would always mouth off to my friends that I never really cared about the outcome. That was a lie too.

It was time to go. It was time for me to leave too. I have been used to being alone for quite a while but somehow it felt a little strange today. I felt a little empty. I felt a little lonely. I dialed the number for the taxi service and was greeted by a warm hello from the operator. I was too tired to walk to the public transport stop. Too drained. Too lazy. Too desensitized.

As I struggled to get up from where I was seated, thoughts and realizations wrestled in my head. Then it hit me and it struck hard. I should have put that car under my name when we made that purchase. I should have done that. It’s a little too late for that now.