“A mocha for me and a small latte for the lady,” I say to the cashier, smiling a bit at my girlfriend before I remember why we’re here. We stride over to the side of the counter, waiting for our drinks as someone else steps up to order.
“So, branching out from your usual cappuccino, are we?” She smiles up at me, a crooked sparkle of white on her otherwise perfect face.
“Oh, ya know, trying to branch out. Gotta try new things or I’ll be boring the rest of my life.” She laughs, oblivious to the double entendre.
“I don’t think getting a different drink at the cafe is really the ‘spice of life’ William Cowper was talking about.”
The drinks slide onto the counter, and we take them to a little table in the corner. It’s more crowded than usual, more than I thought it would be. She catches the worried look on my face.
“What’s wrong, love?” She’s worried.
“Just thinking a bit too much.” I manage to bend the truth, but the worry on her face grows deeper.
“Is this about the doctor’s appointment? Is something wrong?”
I put on a smile, the first lie I’ve told her in years, and only the first I’ll tell her today. “No, I’m fine. It just got me thinking about life, and what I want to do.”
Her smile returned, and with it a jolt of pain in my stomach. She took a sip of her latte. “Is that what brought on the change of drinks?”
I return her grin, this one more genuine. “Yeah. But I’ve been thinking of a, change. A life change. Something a bit more ‘spice of life’.”
“So, change of jobs? You didn’t exactly get a degree in computer science to work as a loan officer.”
I shake my head. “Nah, I’m not gonna quit. I like the money and I like the people. But I am thinking of taking some vacation.”
Now she has a broad grin. “Gonna take a road trip? We could go to the Grand Canyon, or that room in St Louis that’s super quiet, I know you’ve been wanting to see those.”
I take a long sip of my mocha, the chocolate is a good change, and I wish I’d tried it sooner. “No, I just wanna relax and set some things in order.”
She scrunches up her eyebrows, trying to figure out what I mean. It only takes a few seconds of me avoiding eye contact until she starts to see where I’m going, but I can tell she’s trying not to think that—trying to come up with another reason.
“It’s… it’s not—” but my phone rings, cutter her off.
“Hold on, Em.” I pick up the phone and look out the window.
“Hello?” People are walking by, going about their lives.
“Hi, it’s Sharon. How are you?” I recognize her voice.
“As well as can be expected,” I say, a bit annoyed.
“So, you decided to go through with it then? You’re gonna tell her?” I can tell she’s worried.
“Yeah, I’m telling her right now.” I take a peek at Em, and can tell she’s trying not to cry.
“I told you, you don’t have to break up with her. You—”
“Yes, I do.” I end the call, slipping the phone back into my pocket. I look up across the table. “Em.” But I see the realization fall across her face. She knows it’s over.