If We Were Having Coffee

I would arrive fashionably late, as I always do. You’d be sitting at a table in the corner, with coffee for two. After years of us meeting like this, you’re prepared for my tardiness. You have a book out on the table, pretending to read, but I can tell you’re scanning the crowd, waiting.

Our eyes meet, I give a quick nod and begin walking toward you, trying to think what my excuse will be today for arriving late. “It’s okay,” you say, sparing me from my feeble attempt. You slide a coffee toward me and I’m grateful for the warmth, it’s been such a dreary winter.

We begin as we always do, telling each other about our previous week. These Sunday meetings are the best part of my week, but you don’t know that. I never let on, I’d never want you to know that.

You tell me about your new assignment at work, how it will help “get you noticed,” though you know, it won’t make any difference at all. These are the lies you tell yourself to help keep you sane.

When it’s my turn to share, I tell you the things I’ve practiced. I have two stories for this week and I’ve gone through them in my head enough times I can keep the names and places straight. You don’t know the dates I tell you about aren’t real, you listen – maybe pretending the men in my stories are you. You listen to me, week after week, as I share details that I carefully crafted.

This week you hear about Joe at a shoe store in the mall, and how I almost got him fired. You listen as I tell a darker tale, one that would have actually been dangerous – if it had been real.

As we finish our coffee and our weekly excuse to meet, I wonder why I do this. Why I torture myself and you. Why can’t I just tell you the truth?