The morning after we do not have sex, we tiptoe around each other - me, in your borrowed pajamas, unbrushed teeth swished with swindled mouthwash; you, bustling awkward morning maintainance, before the quiet ride back to my parked car. We do not discuss the contents of your beside book - "How to Quit Drinking, Forever", or the way our slow, yeasted tongues fumbled in the dark, our untold stories brushing paths, briefly, before sleep's soft oblivion.
You say "I'll call you, Thursday," and I smile into the silence, staring out the misted window.
I call to ask if you’d like to grab breakfast, and you say, “You always call at the last minute, Meg - I need more time to plan than that." I do not tell you I wanted to ask you at 3am, when I woke with a napalm lobster clawing my chest. I do not tell you I waited, in the dark, breathing slowly and counting the seconds until 8am - when I hoped to catch you between your morning stretch and that first cup of too-strong coffee, always brewed too bitter for my taste. I do not tell you that I dump it down the drain, most days, when you aren’t looking - or that breakfast is really just an excuse to commit to bursting my bed’s chrysalis or break my solitude because most days, it is too easy to stay cocooned in silence.
At the cafe, there are five tables set for two - each housing one human. She sits one table away, facing me, with five feet of space between us, and I can tell that she is lonely by the tilt of her smile and the set of her shoulders, but I mind my own business.
In a different world, we push our tables close together - invite the white-haired gent in the corner to take a seat, and he calls the others over by name, and we all play a game of cards. We sip our morning coffee which is brewed just-right. We do not fight about the weather or whether the storm in one’s heart is greater, we just hold our cards close and shuffle. Everyone knows when Paul is bluffing, but we don’t say anything about it. We hold our tongues closer than our cards because his wife died last year and that kind of hurt doesn’t wear off quickly. It still scalds - and even when you could call the bluff, all fair game, silence is sometimes the kindest course of action - and we are all friends, here.