Wanted to take a wee break from my horror writing and focus on practicing something I desperately need to practice – realistic emotional tension. It’s rough around the edges, but I’ve never really written this much back-and-forth before. Hope you guys enjoy my little experiment.
“What does this mean for us then?” The question hung over the table as she waited for the answer. The diner continued as though nothing life-changing was happening. It didn’t matter, each table had a story, and this table’s story wouldn’t impact anything for the rest of the patrons anyways. The diner was busy, the diner didn’t care.
“I don’t know, okay? I just think it’s right if we take a break,” he said, lowering his gaze into the reflection in his coffee.
“So that means you want to break up, that’s what ‘break’ always means. I’m not going to fall for that and sit here waiting for you,” she said.
“It doesn’t mean break-up, I just need some time to think, I don’t know. Maybe you should spend your time with your family.”
“Then take the goddamn ring back if we’re on a ‘break.'”
He sighed and took a long pull from his coffee. He knew this wouldn’t go well, so the burning feeling from the whiskey he slipped in his drink while no one was looking calmed him down a bit.
“That’s exactly my point. Keep the ring. I want a break because you keep putting off the wedding and you won’t even admit to it,” he said, putting the mug down.
“I do not! That’s bullshit and you know it, I just want to make sure everything is perfect.”
“Tara, we’ve been engaged for six years. We planned on getting married after two. When will ‘perfect’ happen? When one of us dies?” he said. He could feel his temper rise. She had chided him about this before. He never thought that he would have to be the one pushing to get married.
“It’s because of this. You have to be so dramatic about everything. Did you think bringing me here would keep me from getting upset or causing a fight? That’s shitty of you Nicholas,” she said. She knew she was right. Nick had done all these kind of things before. He was so damn scared of being yelled at that when he almost called off the wedding a few years ago he did it through text messages.
“No, it’s not shitty of me, I just wanted to have a goddamn conversation, and you’re blowing it up into something it’s not,” he said. He could feel his face flush and didn’t know if it was the whiskey or the anger boiling inside him.
“Then fine, we can have the break if you want, but I want some ground rules,” she said. Crossing her arms she stared him down as he once more stared into his coffee.
“Like what?” Good, she thought, he’s worried.
“No sleeping with other people, it only lasts a month, and I get to decide if we get back together. Oh, and I get the apartment, you need to stay with Danny or Tom.”
“Seriously? No, I don’t agree to that shit. If anything you should leave, I pay for all of the damned apartment.”
“So, you propose a break out of the blue, expect it completely to be on your terms, and then also decide I’m out on the street? You really didn’t think that I might not want to ask Cheryl if I could stay with her for a month did you. You just thought everything would work out hunky dory and you could go on with your life uninterrupted while I change everything to satisfy your ‘needs.'”
He realized she was right, he hadn’t thought about him leaving the apartment. It had been his before they moved in together, and he paid the rent. But now it was just as much her apartment as it was his.
The waitress came back, dropping the table into utter silence. She took the message, quietly refilled his coffee without asking, and moved on to one of her more friendly tables. The waitress couldn’t imagine they were in the mood to tip much anyways, so fuck it.
“Do you want to know why I haven’t married you, Nick?” she said after a few moments of silence.
“Yes, yes that’s all I ever wanted to know,” he said. He sighed and put his head into his hands.
“Because of times like this, Nick. You can’t stick it out during the hard times, anytime we have any relationship problem you fall to pieces and want to have a ‘meeting’ or go to this damn diner. This is where we met, and now all it’s become is a place for you to deliver bad news,” she said.
“That’s because I don’t think you’re taking this relationship seriously,” he said. This was not going as expected. He didn’t want to break up with her, but he also knew he shouldn’t be the bad guy here.
“I do, that’s why I haven’t left. I’ve had that wedding dress sitting at my mom’s house for three years. Three whole years. I make sure to wear this ring every day whether I’m going out or not. I’m waiting for you to grow up,” she said. She stood up and began to make a move for the door.
“Wait,” he says. She stops and looks at him. “You’re right.”
“What?” she asks. She never thought he would admit to something like that. He was so stubborn sometimes that she figured she would need to leave and let him cool off, just like all the other times. She wasn’t always right, not by a long shot, but when Nick was wrong he could never admit it.
“I’m just scared that us not setting a date means that you don’t want to be with me, but you’re too polite to say so. I feel like I’m the one pushing for it, but you’re right. I absolutely blow things out of proportion. You know why I’m upset today?”
“Why?” she says as she sits back down.
“Because I feel like you don’t want to spend time together anymore. All you do is talk to your friends or your mom, or watch that stupid show of yours,” he says.
“Says the man who spends most of the day bragging about his promotion in your video games or whatever,” she says. His mouth turns up at the corner slightly.
“I’m just scared I’m not exciting enough for you anymore, I love you Tara.”
“I love you too, Nick.” She smiles and he feels its warmth spread through his body.
They don’t say anything else, they don’t have to. She leans over the table and kisses him, feeling that familiar spark that had become absent during their usual kisses goodbye or hello.
He drops a twenty on the table, and they walk out together, hand in hand.