Some music to accompany the story:
He opens the fortune cookie, drops the remnants onto the little dish, and reads it out loud. “Your life will be happy and peaceful.”
“That’s ironic,” I say from across the table.
“Why?” he asks me.
I give him a quizzical look. How could he fail to see the irony in this situation? “Why are we here tonight? Why did you drag me out on the coldest, rainiest night ever to a Chinese Restaurant we haven’t been to since we were dating ten years ago?”
“I sometimes forget we dated, we’ve been best friends for so long. We used to come here all the time.”
“Yes, I’m aware of that. But that’s not why we’re here.”
He’s so frustrating. Clueless. But then, that’s the kind of person who would do this in times like these.
“So,” he said, “Can I have your orange wedge?”
I push the little plate towards him. “Knock yourself out.”
He reaches his big, stupid hand over to my plate and takes the wedge. He starts slurping at it, sounding like a kid who just started wearing braces.
“Don’t you think I’ll look good in fatigues?”
Ugh. “Yeah I hear they’re quite slimming.”
He looks like I just slapped him. He puts down the chewed remnants of peel. The smell reaches me, making me regret giving up the orangey sweetness.
His gaze is drawn outside, looking at the street now devoid of cars. Every once in a while the wind blows a splattering of drops onto the window.
“It’s nice here, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is. I don’t get why you would leave.”
“There’s so much peace and quiet.”
I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall. He continues.
“I love this place. I’m going to miss it.”
“Then why go?”
I really didn’t. There is no reason, no point. The worst is that as of now it’s faceless to me. I don’t know anyone there, so I don’t need to worry or care. I can avoid it by staying away from the news, papers, websites. But now he will be there, and now it has a face and I will be confronted with it at all hours. At work. In the car. Washing the dishes. On a date. I’m forced to think about it now…and it makes me feel…
“Uncomfortable?” he asks.
“Huh?” It is like he was reading my mind.
“You look uncomfortable. Need to switch? My chair is pretty soft.”
“No, no thanks,” I say, laughing a little.
“I ship out pretty early tomorrow.”
“Do they still say that? Ship out? Isn’t that the navy?”
He turns a little red, reminding me of the time he walked in on my little sister changing.
“Maybe you better find out before you make an ass of yourself.”
He gets up, bumping into the table and making the glasses of water sway enough to spill a bit over the edge. He drops a twenty on the table.
“Thanks. This was important.”
“I know,” I whisper.
He turns to go, and I feel like I need to say something meaningful, but can’t think over the emotional noise cluttering my head.
He turns, but I still don’t know what I want to say.
He gives me a sad wave and turns around to leave. Pulling his coat tighter, he opens the door and is attacked by the wind, rain spraying him as he makes his way out of my life, and possibly out of his.