She Spoke First

She spoke first.

Actually, he was relieved. The silence between them had been long and awkward. He noted the soft murmuring of voices from neighboring tables, the occasional clink of a fork on a plate or a spoon swirling in a coffee cup. On the other side of the room a woman laughed, which seemed to him out of place. He was watching her. She was looking down at her uneaten dessert—crème brûlée, her favorite, untouched. A bad sign.

He wanted to speak, but he wasn’t sure if he should say something or ask a question. She traced her finger over the crystallized crust of her dessert, broke the brittle surface, raised her sugared finger tip to her mouth. He felt a space opening up between them. He felt that if he reached across the small table to her, he would not even be able to touch her.

For as long as he had known her, silence had been a part of their relationship—a necessary, healthy part, he believed. But this silence? He had no memory of any silence between them being uncomfortable. This was different. She was holding something back. Maybe he was too.

She spoke first.

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