by Stacy Bennett
The front door jingled, but my eyes never left the swirling coffee in front of me. I wished again that I’d said no. Booted footsteps stopped next to me. Then, he slid into the booth and ordered coffee though I know he never liked it.
“How you been, Jo?” His once-silken voice was tattered, rough.
I didn’t look up until I’d set the spoon down on the red Formica and lifted the cup. “What do you want, Sam?”
“Just wanted to see you.” Graying hair had returned but the chemo had withered him. His U.S. Xenopathogen Eradication Agency jacket hung off his hollow frame.
I choked on a surge of nostalgia. “Fine. You’ve seen me.”
“What, no love left?”
I took a long slow sip of hot bitterness to steel myself. “Guess not.”
His wry half-smile warmed some forgotten piece of me. “They’ve reinstated me.”
A flush of fear stopped my heart. “But you’re —”
“Doesn’t matter, I’m the only one left.”
“The X.E.A. did you boys wrong.” Bile rose as I remembered the vaccines, the missions, and the inevitable cancer.
“I leave tonight.”
“Then just why are you here?” Anger covered my vulnerability.
“I just wanted to be sure.”
“Us.” He stood up and dropped a $20 bill on the table. “Was nice seeing you.” His finger stroked my hand as he left.
As the door closed with grim finality, longing and regret flooded my eyes spilling onto my cheeks. I knew I’d never see him again.
– ♠ –
This was originally posted for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads Challenge which, by the way, still continues to this day. Check out the link here to join in the fun or just read all those tantalizing little bits of story.
Image by Cutcaster.com