1st floor of Starbucks Cafe. Václavské náměstí, Prague.
He is comfortably seated in a couch at a table by the window. The coffee shop starts getting filled by the citizens of Prague. The kind who prefer to enjoy their morning coffee in peace from a mug rather than on the go from a plastic cup.
From this seat, he has a perfect overview of the first floor and the stairs.
And there she is.
Auburn hair he remembers wildly flowing in the wind now perfectly tamed, falling quietly down the shoulders of a long black coat all the way to the mid of her back. In her hands a large mug topped with a huge portion of whipped cream. As she is making the last step up the stairs, she’s looking even one notch more elegant than when he saw her for the first time four weeks ago. High heels magic.
She looks around and spots him. He nods his head in invitation and slowly gets up to welcome her. When she’s close, he reaches out to her with his right hand and lightly touches her elbow.
“Good morning”, he says. “Good morning”, she replies. Kiss on the left cheek, kiss on the right. As his skin briefly touches hers for the second time, her fragrance, outlined by a mix of black currant and vanilla, enters the picture. Now he is fully reminded of their last meeting. Her capricious eyes. Her witty comments. The questions she asked, attempting to get under his skin. Deliberately ignoring the fact that under his skin was exactly the place he would not let anyone.
Breakfast is never a date. But despite that, the mix of black currant and vanilla sends his thoughts in that direction. It takes until she sits down before he gets his imagination back under control.
They start talking. About the weather. About guitars. About Haruki Murakami’s books. But something is not right.
Her look is less engaged. Her comments less sharp. Her questions just scratching the surface.
“What is it?” he asks.
He tilts his head to the side. “There’s something on your mind that you’re not saying aloud. What is it?”
She hesitates. “I saw a photo of you on Facebook. On that photo, you’re wearing a ring. Can you explain it?”
In 9 cases out of 10, finding out that this was not “Just a breakfast” would be good news. This however may be the 10th.
She quickly adds: “I’m sorry, I had to ask.”
In an instant, a variety of responses flash through his mind. But if there is one thing he learned over the past couple of months, it’s this one: Uncomfortable things are better said clearly and right away.
“Technically I’m still married,” he gets straight to the point. “We have filed for divorce. We’re not living together for almost half a year. We’re not in touch. It’s a closed chapter.”
He pauses for a moment and then adds: “I can imagine you have more questions. I would have if I were you. Feel free to ask.”
A wrinkle appears on her forehead. Quiet. In the quiet, he guesses a storm of her thoughts. Memories. Expectations. Scenarios.
Ten seconds later, the wrinkle disappears. She takes a deep breath.
“I think I should better go.”
Looking at her, he raises his left eyebrow giving a slight nod. As if saying: “If you think so.”
She adds: “I’m sorry. This is a situation too complicated for me.”
She gets up from the chair, picks up her coat and without putting it on, walks towards the stairs and outside from the coffee shop.
Left alone, he looks at the cup on the other side of the table. Maybe it is half empty. Maybe half full.
He nods once more. With a knowing smile, he says to himself aloud:
“Too complicated for you. I guess it is.”
Based on a story told by a friend.