– Hey there! Long time no see!
She recognized him. He approaches her table.
He still has that silly haircut and he’s even wearing the exact same jacket.
There are other tables available. She’d rather have stayed seated here alone.
But he’s already grabbed the backrest of the chair opposite her.
– So, I said – you probably didn’t hear me – it’s been a long time!
His face beams with joy.
She answers. That could either refer to that long time or to the fact that she actually heard him.
He dramatically takes off his jacket, hangs it over the chair’s backrest, and sits down, huffing.
– Phew, I’m sitting.
Yes, everyone noticed that. He noisily slides his chair closer to the round tabletop and rests his forearms and elbows on it.
– Gosh, that I run into you here!
Just a little too loud, like in the old days. Not only meant for her, but always also for the people around him.
Technically you don’t ‘run into’ someone who sits still, but those kinds of details have always passed him by. That and the fact that their relationship already cooled to freezing years ago.
– Shall I order something for us?
As he asks, too loud of course, too excited, he turns around to get the attention of a waitron.
– No thanks.
– Don’t you want a drink?
He sounds surprised.
She doesn’t answer, just raises her left eyebrow slightly.
As he turns his back at her again, her cup of tea is already being brought from the other side.
– Thank you.
She answers with a friendly smile at the waitron, who has already walked away before he even realizes she was there.
She adds sweetener to her tea, stirs it, puts the small cookie that came with it in her mouth and starts to chew contentedly.
He looks back and, surprised, notices her cup of tea.
She has almost forgotten about him already.
Thinks about the story she is writing, at home. Quickly grabs her phone to make a note on it.
But he wants her attention.
So what? She thinks, uninterested.
– How nice to see you again!
She raises an eyebrow again.
– Damn, what takes them so long?
He sounds indignant. And he startles when the waitron suddenly appears behind him.
– Here I am, sir!
She detects a hint of disdain in that word sir.
– Ah, yes. Coffee, please. With sugar and milk.
– Coming right up.
He turns back to her.
– So…! Um… How are you doing now?
A hopeful look. He probably wants to know everything. About her current life.
She remains silent for a while and then says convincingly, short:
And she blows on her hot tea for a moment. That’s all he’ll get from her. He already got way too much from her in the past.
He seems to want to probe further, wanting to know more, but also appears annoyed – he was always annoyed – seems annoyed that he’s getting so little in return.
– Do you live here?
– No, I’m having a cup of tea here.
– Yeah, duh! Do you live in this city?
She shrugs slightly. Maybe he didn’t even notice.
His coffee is brought. Already. For once he has nothing to complain about. Or does he…
– Two sugars, please!
– The package contains two cubes, sir.
Again that subtle contempt in the word sir.
– Two sugars, please! And make it quick!
The waitron, she knows him, she comes here often, winks at her. She smiles back. We know these kinds of people, they think together.
He tries several times to start a conversation. She doesn’t respond.
She drinks her tea in small, hot sips, makes another note on her phone. Already looks forward to being back home and continuing to write her story. Then she realizes that the hitherto missing character, or a parody of it, just happens to be sitting opposite her.
He does not understand. Misunderstands her. Like in the old days.
– Are you glad to see me?
He must see the disbelief at that question on her face.
She doesn’t reply.
– We had… right?
She asks, slightly irritated when he doesn’t finish his sentence.
– We had a good time together, didn’t we? In the past?
She looks at her phone. Checks her messages against her better judgement. Gives a signal this way.
He takes a sip of his coffee, too fast. And burns his tongue.
– Ouch, damn it!
That’s the guy she knows.
– I would like to…
She doesn’t care what he wants.
– I would like you to…
He has no say in her life.
He looks at her desperately, vulnerable. Begs with his eyes for a concession.
She looks back emotionlessly.
She hopes he’ll leave.
Behind him, the waitron she knows well gestures whether she needs help. Smiling, she silently shakes her head ‘no thanks’ at him. He gives her a thumbs up.
Shortly after, he walks past the chair of her unwanted tablemate and ‘accidentally’ bumps into it.
The guy gets angry again, but he tries to contain himself, to make a good impression on her.
She moistens her index finger and picks up a last crumb from the cookie on her saucer and puts it in her mouth.
He also misunderstands this gesture and starts smiling broadly.
– I thought… Maybe we can…?
She looks right through him.
– But maybe we could…?
– No, I said.
Furious, he stands up, pushes his chair backward. Accidentally knocks over his coffee, clumsily rights the cup, a few drops stain his pants.
– But damn it, why not?!
He seems enraged.
It makes her laugh. That doesn’t go down well.
He jerks his jacket from the chair’s backrest, angrily tries to put it on, gets entangled in it.
The friendly waitron comes to offer his help.
He pulls away from the man in black and white. Almost knocks over his chair.
He tries to drink what’s left of his coffee, but it ends up on his clothes.
She bursts into laughter.
– It’s okay, I’m leaving! And I never want to see you again!
Fine, she thinks.
– Hey there! Long time no see!