Every Tuesday they would meet at a little cafe outside of town. They would sit across from each other, drinking coffee. For an hour or two they would just exist. They talked about everything, shared their secrets with each other, the ones they couldn’t tell anyone else. They could just be themselves there in that little cafe. Tuesdays at the cafe was the only time they saw each other, the only time they talked to one another. Their lives never intersected, they didn’t have any friends in common and they lived on opposite sides of town. They didn’t have each other’s phone numbers and they weren’t friends on any social media. Their friendship only existed in the cafe. They had been doing it for three years, it happened by chance one day. When she was sitting alone and there weren’t any other available seats, he asked if he could join her. They made the deal that day, to meet every Tuesday for coffee. There wasn’t anything romantic about it, it wasn’t like that. It was just coffee.
Lily sat waiting in their usual booth. She glanced at her watch, he was late. It was pouring rain outside. She sipped her coffee and giggled to herself when she saw him come in shaking his coat and messing his soaking wet hair. He motioned that he was going to use the restroom and she nodded. “It’s really coming down out there.” He said sitting down across from her in the booth. The waitress brought over a coffee for him. “Thanks.” He said. “You don’t own an umbrella?” Lily teased him. “I do, but it’s at home, and I didn’t stay there last night, or the night before that.” He said. She raised her eyebrows waiting for him to continue. “I got home from work Friday and as soon as I opened the door, Jess handed me a suitcase and told me she wanted a divorce.” He said. She reached her hand across the table and put it on his arm. “Sean, I’m so sorry.” She said. “I’ve been staying at a friend’s. So no umbrella.” He said and tried to smile. They sat in silence sipping their coffees. Lily didn’t want to push him, she knew he’d say more about it if he wanted to. That was their only rule, to say what they wanted, not say what they think they should, not fill space with words that they didn’t mean. Occasionally they drank their coffees in complete silence because neither one of them had anything they wanted to say. “I’m not actually surprised. I’ve known for a while that it was coming. I guess I was just hoping it wouldn’t.” He said breaking their silence. “How are things with you?” He asked. She shrugged and sighed. “Greg was offered a job in Seattle. It’s a good job. He wants to take it and I don’t want to move. I don’t want to give up my life here. I don’t want him to stay here just for me either. If we were married, or even engaged, it might be different.” She said, shaking her head. “You’ve been together for what? 4 years?” He asked. “Yeah.” “Damn.”
Three weeks later
Sean sat in the booth waiting for Lily. Rubbing his now bare ring finger. “Hey.” She said, sitting down. He had already ordered a coffee for her. “So how’d everything go?” She asked. “It was easy, simple. We didn’t have very much to split. Three years isn’t as long as it seemed.” He said. “And how are you?” She asked. “I think I’m ok. I got an apartment, I’m thinking I might get a dog. Jess was allergic to dogs, and I’ve always wanted one.” “Dogs are good.” “Did you and Greg figure things out?” “Yeah, he left Thursday. I’m staying here. We’re not going to try the long distance thing. It’s not what either of us wanted but we couldn’t agree on a way to make it work.” She sighed. “You know if this was the movies everything would have worked out.” She said. “And I would already have a dog.” He finished. “Get the dog.” “Yeah, I’m going to get the dog.” They laughed and then both burst into tears. “I feel like all I’ve been doing is crying. I never imagined things could change so quickly.” She said, wiping her eyes with a napkin. “I mean, I know they can change fast, I just never imagined they would.” “Yeah, even though I knew it wasn’t working, I knew she wasn’t happy. And I know I didn’t try hard enough, I still wasn’t prepared.” He said. He reached his hand to her and held her hand in his.
Six months later
“So my friend, Josh, he set me up on a blind date.” Sean said. “And?” “And, it was awful and weird and…” “Too soon?” She asked. “No, I don’t think so. Just everything was forced. I could tell from the start that she didn’t like me, she wasn’t going to. We had nothing in common. And by the end of the date she found some other guy and went home with him I think.” He dropped his forehead into the palm of his hand. “Wow, I’m sorry.” “Yeah, at least Zeke is there is for me though.” He said. “Oh do you have new pictures?” She asked. He pulled his phone out and showed her pictures of the golden lab he had adopted. “Oh, I love him.” She said. “I think he’d love you back.” He said putting the phone away. She smiled at him. “So I’ve been thinking about something you said a while back.” He said. “What’s that?” “How if this were the movies everything would have worked out. But I think if this was a movie, I would ask you to dinner.” He said. “Oh.” “I’m sorry, you can say no. It’s ok.” She took a sip of her coffee. “No, well yes, I mean it’s not that, yes I would like that.” She said. “Really?” “Yeah.”