She sat by the corner table, watching the waiters serve the other patrons. It was a busy Cafe, very new but well hidden. This being happy hour many people walked in from work to have a few drinks and unwind before heading home.
She looked at her wrist watch. 5:30. She had two hours to go before her family would call to find out where she was. She had already decided on rice and beef for supper, and she knew Mary, her maid, had already prepped for her.
Across her seat was a fairly young couple who were giggling and holding hands as if there was no one else in that room apart from them. That used to be her, seven years ago. Before the responsibilities, before the expectations, before the kids.
She thought of her husband now. He was still handsome, still a kind soul and a wonderful dad, but things had changed between them. They were no longer the couple seated across her. Time to be that couple was no longer available. The little free time they had was spent talking about their investments, what their mothers wanted, what their children needed, planning family functions and prayers. The rest of the time was spent with the kids, entertaining and each of their respective hobbies.
They both saw it happening though, the drift. They tried for a month or two, but date nights were expensive. She didn’t know his dreams or his wants any more. And what he saw in her was a home maker. He forgot she loved going out too, that she loved picnics and road trips. She was sealed in a box that she could not get out of so she stopped fighting him. In his presence she was a home maker, with her friends she could be who she wanted to be.
With that kind of dynamic going on it was a welcome surprise when Anthony called. He had liked a photo of her on Facebook and he said she was radiating with happiness and looked beautiful. After being married for so long, being seen as beautiful was a huge deal. They started talking. He was happily married too but had just started undergoing the change that leads to her current stage in marriage. He was sad that he was only seen as a provider, that only his little girl was the only one who asked how his day was. His wife saw him and saw a chore helper who was too lazy or tired to help out.
They both had a change identity issue. They felt close. They kept reminiscing about their college days, how young and in love they were. They felt alive then, the only responsibility they had was grades and happiness.
For old time’s sake they agreed to meet today for drinks. To catch up, laugh and create an imaginary little world for an hour or two before going back to their real lives. It would make both of them happy. And if they were happy, their families would also be happy.
But some voice in her head kept asking her why she needed to justify meeting him if it was nothing but friendship. Why did she pick the corner table where people were less likely to see them?
The it hit her. She was looking for her husband in him. She was looking for the man who she used to laugh with, the man who once pulled her chair and whistled as she walked by. She was looking to be in love again and not merely love.
In her heart she realized this was wrong. She should get up, go home, talk to her husband and sort things out. After all, this date or meeting or whatever you want to call it, would lead to more pain than happiness.
She quickly put cash on the table and picked her bag and stood to leave.
As she turned around to leave she saw him walking towards her with a smile on his face.
shit. shit. shit.
“Hi,” he said as he opened his arms wide to embrace her.
“Hi,” she said back as she hugged him back.
Two hours, she said to herself. Just two hours and I’ll be gone.