The interiors of this restaurant are stunning. Even if I’m not a fan of the combination of green and purple, whoever designed this space surely made it work, perfectly highlighted by the gold accents. The shades are deep, almost blackish. The style is contemporary, even the cutlery looks very avant-garde. Don’t trust me though, I am basing my assessment from all the magazines I read.
I’m not an interior design person, but I suppose anything is better than acknowledging the man sitting before me. He is silent too, reading the wine menu from front to back and then front again as if he has to sit for some pop quiz on wines on Monday. Well, I cannot blame him. I am looking at this restaurant like I have a job, writing an article on how to combine green and purple for the next copy of Good Housekeeping. What do you do when you stand at a precipice?
“I think I will take the Bordeaux,” the man says. I look at him and I feel like I am seeing him for the first time. Did he always have those dark circles under his eyes? Did he always have that gloomy look in his eyes? I do not remember him like that. A long time back, those same eyes glimmered with emotions I knew very well. Tonight, I don’t know him very well.
I nod, “Sounds okay.” I pick up the food menu, smiling a little, “Chicken for starters? The chicken satay sounds good.”
He shrugs his shoulders, “Fine.”
I hail down a waitress and give our orders with the guarantee we will order the main course later. I don’t tell her that tonight may not last beyond the chicken satay and two glasses of red wine. As the helpful woman leaves us, I lean on the table, crossing my elbows. Someone has to start, so I begin, “Are we going to talk tonight?”
He looks surprised and he hides it well, rubbing his face. He swallows, “I don’t know what to say.”
I lean back in my seat and fix my bracelet. The charms that hand on this bracelet were all collected over several years. I touch the ones that look like a strawberry and a cupcake. He gave me those, had them made out of gold for my birthday. I did not want to take them. They were an expensive gift. But he insisted, saying that after seven long years of a relationship, he is entitled to give me something pretty and shiny. He made the argument that I am quite like a crow, attracted to sparkly, glittery things anyway.
“You could say, I’m sorry beloved, it’s not you, it’s me. Cliche, yes, but also useful when you cannot find the right words.” I quietly say.
He scoffs, “Amusing till the very end, aren’t you?” I smile a little, perhaps a bit stung by his words. “But you’re merely deflecting.”
My smile wanes a little and I don’t want to see that so I look away, to my side. I immediately regret it because to my right, another couple sits, and they are smiling and their fingers lightly brush on the table, barely touching. He becomes all shy and she giggles. They look very nice together. A voice inside me wants to scream at them, “This is temporary! Every relationship you have with someone on this earth is temporary! Don’t you see me and this man? We had been dating for seven years. We were supposed to get married. But no, here we are talking about our break-up as if we’re discussing world events!”
Of course, I cannot do that. I rather have them learn their bitter truths than ruin their moment. They deserve this, their halcyon days and carefree love. My throat clogs up and I feel stress behind my eyes. I am about to…cry. How did I think I could leave this, us, without some damage? I swallow and blink my eyes a couple of times. I look back at him and say, “It’s okay. Separation is never a surprise.”
I see him frown. The little line between his eyebrows and the way his lower lip juts out slightly—clear signs of him confused but trying to understand what somebody is saying. I want to help him, even if it is the last time, the last thing I do for him. I run my fingers along the edge of the tablecloth and say, “Everything ends in this world, doesn’t it? How can human beings think they are endless? People come and go, that’s how it is. Maybe our time, yours and mine, together like this, was always meant to end.”
The little line between his eyes disappears and he puts his hands on his laps, probably twisting his fingers like he does when he is nervous. The urge to comfort him right now is impossible. I want to reach out and touch his shoulder and tell him, “Love is not permanent. You can fall out of it. Only the lucky ones never do.” Instead, I put my hands on my maps to resist the urge and lace my fingers together, focusing on the way the pink nail paint on my thumb is chipping.
The drinks arrive, and we both plaster smiles on our faces to thank the waitress. She lets us know our appetiser will be here in ten more minutes. I take a sip of my drink and say, “I don’t think I can eat anything right now.”
The little line appears again but he does not jut his lower lip out; this means he is displeased with what he is hearing. “But you can’t drink on an empty stomach!” He looks around, trying to hail down a waiter, “At least, let them pack it for you.”
The stress behind my eyes return as I whisper, “Can you not care just tonight?”
He looks back at me and takes a deep breath. I notice how ragged it sounds. I look closer and I realise his eyes are also shining with unshed tears. He hates it just as much as I do. But we need to do what we have to do. Why hold each other back like this? I too inhale deeply, “Okay, let’s finish the satay and leave, yeah? We can tie all the loose ends later.”
He nods and excuses himself to go to the bathroom. I pick up my drink and take a long sip. It’s the end.
Cover Image from iStock by Getty Images.
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