In the end, I decided to meet with him —6:30pm at the Flying M coffee shop. We did have something once —before he broke it off. I wanted to see him again, to show him that I was over the relationship —truth was, I was hardly over it.
I went to the restroom to freshen up before he arrived —you know, make myself look so good that he would regret he broke up with me. While I powdered my nose, and reapplied some lipstick, I tried remembering why it ended so badly.
Peter, that’s his name, he and I went out for 2 ½ years —we even got engaged—then like that, it was over. It was not a surprise that things ended, but it hurt nonetheless. We burned hot, maybe too hot, because we were always fighting. I blamed it on our intense passion for one another —I know how stupid that sounds now; and after a while Peter grew weary of it all. So why did he want to see me? He wouldn’t say on the phone —classic Peter, always keeping me dangling.
I went back to the table and waited. This is the coffee shop where we first met; he was funny and personable, and I was hooked from that first moment. However, Peter could also be quite gloomy; and when he sunk into that mood, he was cold and distant. He would brood, we would fight, then make up; and the whole sick cycle would start all over again.
I checked my watch, he should’ve been there already —that was Pete though, rarely on time for anything. I was fuming inside, only he could make me so angry. That bastard knew I would wait for him like some fucking sixteen year old love-struck teen —and I hated myself for it.
Three cups of coffee, a cinnamon roll, and one scone later, Peter was still a no-show. That asshole asked me here knowing he’d never come. He might even be watching from across the street, getting a big kick out of seeing me sitting there like an idiot —that wouldn’t surprise me at all. Still, I waited until 8pm; then I just said ‘Fuck it’ and left. I had some romantic notion that he wanted to get back together —how could I be such a fool?
I walked the few blocks to my car, cursing Peter all the way. When I got there, my cell rang —Peter’s name flashed on the screen, ‘Oh, now he decides to call and tell me he’s running late.’ But it wasn’t Peter’s voice on the other end. This was when time stopped for me; where events felt as if they were happening to someone else —and I was just a casual observer. All I remember clearly is some stranger on Peter’s phone saying, “Do you know a Peter Brent? We found you listed as ‘girlfriend’ in his cell phone. Could you come down and identify the body?” That last question…
The obituary read: ‘Peter Jacob O’Malley, 25, of San Diego. Peter is survived by his parents Ian and Patricia O’Malley; his sisters, Jane and Ida; and his fiancée of 2 years, Sarah Palmer.’ That’s me, the fiancée. I cut the write up out the paper, and put it in his favorite book —the one his mother gave me after the funeral. She knew I still loved him.
The rage was replaced by sadness. The bitterness was gone, and Peter became a mythical figure —the way one does in death; all the unpleasant things about them vanish, and are replaced by that perfectly formed human being you always wished they were. I never found out why he wanted to talk that night, but I often make up scenarios in my head —they always end with us getting back together.
It’s been a year since Peter died. Today is the anniversary of the night we were supposed to meet. This is the first time I’ve been back to The M since then. I bought a mocha and a cinnamon roll —the same thing I ordered that night; also a black cup of coffee and a blueberry scone —Peter’s favorite.
This time I sit knowing he isn’t going to show up, and that certainty brings tears to my eyes.
June Griffin says
Sad but an awefully good read!
Alice Nelson says
Thank you June, my friend!
Excellent story. You had me from the beginning. I knew something alarming was going to happen because you built the tension up nicely.
Thank you so much Patricia for your kind words.