Liars are the best lovers
By Jennifer Jhagroo
Cold coffee stains her lips. She looks up at me through her eyelashes. We sit in a booth, but across from each other this time. Her hands shake as she puts the mug on the coaster. She sets it down a little too quickly and all I hear through the sea of conversations in the coffee shop is the ting of her mug against the glass coaster. The silence between us is deafening now. I just want to throw the mug against the fucking wall so I could get any reaction out of her. We’re both frozen in our seats except she's stirring her spoon through the air in her mug. She doesn't look at me for the rest of the evening she finds something to turn her attention to. I know her by now. She only gets like this when she’s angry. I can't reach for the sugar without her flinching. If I tell her a joke she doesn't take it as a joke and it’s met with silence. Her jet black hair falls over half of her face. I remember a couple years back, when this all started, her hair was lighter, an inviting brown. She’d look at me in the eyes and told me what was wrong, even if it took some courage to get out. But now, each groove in the wooden table separates us further than we are. Even though she's right across from me her absence is more present than her. She used to tell me "I'm sorry" when she had to hang up early and when she hadn't texted back in a while. Now every "I miss you" is followed by "I'm sorry"; every minor accident, brushing past me a little too hard or accidentally dropping a plate while she was doing dishes. This relationship has become a series of never ending apologies. I want to reach over the table and pull her out of her head and into a hug. But we both just sit here on our high ground. All the noise and clatter around us shuts down when I barely hear the whispers tumbling through her lips.
"Do you know why I wanted to meet you?"
“No.” I say and try to make eye contact with her but she still looks down at the table. She finally looks up and leans forward on the table. The dark circles against her pale skin seem so out of place. The heavy lighting in here makes the rest of her face look almost transparent. The violet veins under her pale skin run up her neck along the left side of her mouth; another from the middle of her cheek to the outside corner of her left eye. It looks like lightning struck her eyelids, when she blinks there's an assortment of pastel blues, reds and purples drawn across her eyelids. I've never seen so much color in the human form. She parts her lips that've become dry, a pale pink, to say something but doesn’t say anything.
I lean closer to her but the table is holding me back from getting as close as I need to be. She's looking down again, small bubbles of water drop onto the table. I hear her sniffle before she looks up again. Her eyes are red against her colorful face.
"Wait" I grab her wrist before she gets up. "Just tell me what's wrong."
She flinches at my words and quickly sits back down. A few breathes of silence pass us by while we wait for one another to say something. Anything. The crowd around us starts to fade as the coffee house draws to a close. Still nothing is said as we're told we need to leave because it's closing. We both get up in unison our eyes still locked as we head out the doors together. I walk her to her bus stop and we stand under the street lamp. She's shivering now and I'm still waiting
for an answer. She looks up at me and the white smoke leaves her nose. The cold air closes around us. Her hands are buried into her pockets. She is barely a face peeking out of her jacket and under her hat. She almost makes me smile again but I turn my expression back to concern. "It's hard to say this...” I finally hear her say. She looks down at her shoes. "I'm sorry I'm leaving I just I don't have much time I need to see as much as I can I can't just sit around here I-" "What are you talking about?" I ask, she's looking up at me again I'm searching for an answer in her eyes. She sighs deeply and the words that I hear her say next leave me gasping for air.
“I can’t stay here. The police are searching my house right now. I just needed you as an alibi, just in case they catch up with me.”
“W…What did you do?!”
“Nothing you need to know about.”
Her bus pulls up next to us. She looks back at me flashing a disheartening smile. She climbs onto the bus and it fades off into the white haze at the end of the road. I'm left in the aftermath, my whole body starts shaking. I don't know her at all. What have I done? I wasted a majority of my life on her. I drop to my knees unconsciously; the biting winds find their way into my bones. I can't bare to move. I'll stay here until my whole body turns as ice cold as hers.