“By the time we got there it was over—everything was ruined, do you remember that?” I do and I don’t. It is kind of a blur. I shuffle a bit, adjust my shoelace under the table, readjust and look at the menu.
“Yes, of course. We got there and it was ruined,” staring down at my phone.
“Oh my God, you don’t remember.” I sense the growing aggravation. I am straining to piece it together. What was it, and why was it ruined by the time we got there? Perhaps I should have paid closer attention.
The idea of sitting and drinking coffee doesn’t appeal to me, seems like a waste of money. It is one of obligatory things normal people do. This feels like an interrogation. I watch clean faced couples shake off the cold and laugh as they make their way to the counter to make their orders. I wonder if their lives are as simple and happy as they seem. They seem untouched by the darkness that hovers over me.
“Did I tell you about what happened to me yesterday? The story about the dog?”
“Please don’t patronize me,” grabbing my phone and putting it on the table. “You haven’t paid attention to a word that I said.” Her light frustration is turning into something more. I can feel the throbbing anger from across the table.
“You have my undivided attention. It was a bad night. I forgot the tickets. We had to go back, and, of course, by the time…” She stops me mid-sentence.
“For the record, you are insufferable. You are making shit up as you go along.”
“I am joking.”
“You passed out in the bathroom getting ready for my fucking birthday party.” She reaches over and grabs my hand and looks in my eyes. “I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with you.”
“I made mistakes,” nursing my coffee, staring at people filter in and out.
“You ruined everything. You destroyed me—us. Does anything really matter to you?” I feign a bite of a pastry she insists we get. I do it because it seems like the kind of thing I am supposed to do. I am going through the motions.
“I just don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember funny and happy either. It was so long ago.” My eyes move downward, away from her watchful gaze. A sick feeling swirls in my stomach. “Hey, let’s forget all of that tonight. We are together, and the world is wonderful.”
She turns away and dabs the corner of her eye. I can see the toll all of this is having on her. “It is late, and I am tired.”
“I can be better. I really can.”
Jasper Kerkau is co-founder, managing editor, and writer for Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and Publishing.