Envelope

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A couple meets in a cafe and starts to reminisce.

The Envelope

 

By Alexandru Manole

 

 

 

“Please take this envelope and think about it,” she said. “It would mean a lot to me.”

“Ok. Give it here,” he compliantly replied.
“Thanks.”

 

He didn’t answer back though. They had been sitting at the table for the last 15 minutes waiting for the order and moving their eyes up and down the wall and just then she had decided to bring that up. He wasn’t sure what annoyed him more: the fact that he had to accept the envelope or the fact that they still hadn’t brought his cider. He started looking around the room, trying to avoid making eye contact with her. The coffee house they were in was pretty secluded from the frantic life of the city centre, being situated in a very quiet neighborhood. On the ground floor there was a library filled with books from philosophy and classical literature to self help and cook books, and on the top floor two rooms: one for smokers and one for non smokers with a waiting room in the hall between them. They were sitting in the smokers’ room and he was starting to regret this decision badly. The room was clogged with so much smoke that you could cut holes through the grey fog. The people there were trying to fashion different shapes out of their cigarette smoke but they disappeared almost instantaneously, filling the air with nicotine and tar. He constantly felt out of breath and the envelope in front of him choked him even more.

 

They were sitting at a table with a street view, near a very ugly painting of a naked girl, drawn in a manga style, probably a poor attempt by some local artist to imitate Takashi Murakami. The whole coffee house was regularly filled with paintings of artist wannabes that tried to sell their creations. In the centre of their table sat a bouquet of peonies with pieces of rosemary tied around it and next to it a small basket with artificial fruits. He wasn’t a fan of flowers and he thought how incredibly ridiculous this whole display looked like.

 

Finally, the cider came. While he was stirring with his straw inside the glass, as if trying to decipher some ancient mystery, she started talking again:

 

“Have I upset you with anything?” she asked.

“What?”

“I asked if I’ve upset you with anything?”
“Oh. Yeah. No. No.” he said, shrugging it off. “Listen, have you ever tried quince cider?”

“No, I didn’t even know it existed. But that’s not my problem now.”

“Well, you can make cider out of almost anything. It’s alcohol, after all,” he confidently pointed out.

“I had no idea.”

“Do you remember the time when we had that peach cider in London? Almost two years ago. It was the same brand, but it tasted so much better. This one is just god-awful”

 

He moved the glass away and she looked at him:

 

“A lot has changed since then, Michael,” she said.

“You’re right, maybe they’ve changed the recipes. People do that all the time.”

“Can you stay focused for just one bit?” she said, as if scolding him a bit.

“That was always my problem, wasn’t it?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes it just seems that you are from a different planet,” she said shaking her head.

 

She was right. Most of the times, his thoughts drifted from one thing to another, in a constant swing between reality and fantasy, between fact and fiction. Even in that instant he was thinking of all the possible ways the conversation could end. Her words were flying straight through him. The envelope would disappear, the orders would come on time, and they could have a normal conversation. But he thought that he should at least try to be more attentive. He owed her that much.

 

“I’ll try to pay more attention,” he said, while picking up the gossip paper from the table next to them.
“This means a lot to me. I hope you’ll accept.”
“ She was one of the most beautiful women in the world and he cheated on her.”

“What?” she irritatingly asked. 

“Here! Look here! Ashley and Cheryl Cole. He cheated on her. Not once, not twice, but three times, it says. Maybe in his case that saying applies. How was it? ‘No matter how beautiful a woman is, there’s always a guy that’s tired of fucking her’.”

“Yeah, but didn’t they patch things up every time? They fixed everything and got back together. The important thing is that they love each other,” she assuredly said.
“Bullshit!” he shouted. “In what glossy piece of crap magazine did you read that?”

“I didn’t read it anywhere. You don’t have to yell”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to,” he said calmly. “But look. I don’t like gossip papers, but this woman was an idiot. Still is. A lot more than him. At least others have the excuse that they didn’t know. But…yeah! Forget about it. Let’s move on. Gossip papers should entertain, not produce any startling revelations.”

 

They both paused for a bit. She glanced through the menu and he looked at the artificial fruits in the basked on the table.

 

“It seems weird,” Michael suddenly said.
“What’s weird?”
“I look at these fruits and they seem so real. I touch them and they seem real. Even when I put them next to my mouth they seem real. But the myth vanishes once I take a bite out of them. Why do you look so puzzled? You’ve never tasted artificial fruits?”

“No. I don’t think I’ve ever had.”
“Well, there’s a time for everything, right?” he said smiling.

“It’s kind of too late now,” she replied. “And besides, I don’t think there ever was.”

“Maybe you’re right,” he sighed.
“Forget about it. What have you been up to?”

“Not much. Work, home, nothing really interesting.”

“Well, you never know!” she said with a warm and playful voice.

“Look,” he said while putting his hand in his breast pocket. “I want to…”

Her phone started ringing.
“Sorry. Wait a sec,” she said while picking up. “Hello,” she answered smiling. “Yeah, at the coffee house. At 8? Ok. Bye!” she finished the call and turned her eyes towards Michael again. “Sorry. What were you saying?”

“Nothing. I just wanted a cigarette.”

“You started smoking again?” she curiously asked.

“No. I’ve changed my mind now.”

“Oh …Ok,” she shrugged rather bemused. “Wait here a bit. I’m going to the bathroom and I’ll be right back.”

 

Michael waited. He looked at the envelope, felt his pocket once more and downed the glass of cider.

 

“Tastes awful, like bile,” he thought. He took the envelope and put it in the front pocket of his jacket.

 

“What are you doing there!?” she asked as she came back.

“Sorry?” he replied not knowing what she was talking about.

“The artificial peach. You ripped it in pieces”

 

He looked at his right hand and saw it full of bits of wax. He didn’t even remember having started playing with the fruit.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said looking up at her.

“It’s ok. You don’t have to apologize. I understand.”

“I’ll try to come.”
“Thanks.”

 


Submitted: April 01, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Alexandru Manole. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

jmurch

This was a wonderfully written short story. You are an incredibly talented young writer! I am looking forward to reading more of your work. Until then, may I bid you goodbye until the next posting from you. Thank you!

Mon, April 2nd, 2012 12:09am

Author
Reply

Thank you for your comment. I am glad you liked the story. I will publish more in the coming weeks.

Mon, April 2nd, 2012 4:13am

chelly1979

Wonderfully written. I can't wait to read more.

Sun, April 29th, 2012 5:10pm

Author
Reply

Thank you very much for the comment.

Wed, May 2nd, 2012 1:12pm

anyapetrovskaya

I like this a lot. It really depicts the awkward feelings and nostalgia that ex-couples have when they meet up again. Nice work!

Sun, May 20th, 2012 8:57pm

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