They sat opposite one another in silence. It was often the case after they had slept together. It wasn’t necessarily that they had nothing to say, they could talk for hours. But at times like this there would always be a stillness in the air, and he would always be the one to initiate the conversation again. “Looks like we’ve got the entire weekend to ourselves,” he said, turning to face her. She lifted her head from the table, her eyes still puffy. She had been crying again. She often cried after sex. She never explained why, and he never questioned it. He had been with many women, each with their own habits and peculiarities. But he couldn’t help but notice that the crying had become much worse the past week, and he felt increasingly compelled to broach the subject. “That’s right. He probably won’t be back until Monday,” she replied, reaching for a packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes. She lit one and placed it in between her lips. “It makes a change, not having to be so secretive for once. We should do something special. How about I put on some music?” “Go ahead.” He found a pile of records resting on a nearby cabinet and began to skim through them. He recognized most of the names, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, they were the sort of musicians most jazz listeners would recognize. Next to the cabinet stood an impressive stereo set. There was no preventing it from standing out among the room’s more modest furnishings. He picked out ‘Hymn to Freedom’, then retrieved a pair of wine glasses and perched himself on the sofa. “Oscar Peterson?” she asked, taking a seat next to him. “You like jazz?” “Not really. My husband listens to that record a lot. It’s why he brought that thing in the first place.” He poured some wine, then wrinkled his brow and swirled the glass in his hand. “Something on your mind?” she asked. “Well, I haven’t mentioned anything up until now. But why do you cry whenever we… Well, you know?” Her voice took on a husky edge, “you noticed?” “It’d be difficult not to.” She paused and rolled the words around her tongue before speaking. “I don’t know.” “Guilt maybe?” “I don’t think so. It’s not like I hate my husband, but at the same time I don’t owe him anything. I told you didn’t I, about how our parents set us up? Our marriage was just a convenience.” “Hmm. Divine punishment perhaps?” She chuckled, “In that case God must be running out of ideas. Anyway, it’s not like you’ve never had any odd habits before.” “Not particularly. At least not that odd. Although I do have a friend that alphabetically orders his cereal and sorts them into categories. We used to be roommates at college. Drove him crazy when I accidentally put his corn flakes on the wrong shelf.” “What’s up with that?” “Beats me. I never asked him. Maybe he’s just the kind of guy that likes to keep his cereal orderly.” She laughed and leaned onto his shoulder. “How long… How long do you think this can stay like this?” he asked, wrapping an arm around her. He couldn’t quite make out her expression. For a moment she stayed silent, then pulled him closer. She had cried again that night too. The next morning he woke to an empty bed. He thought it was odd, whenever he had stayed over before he was usually the one to wake up first. He slipped on his clothes and found her in the kitchen, smoking a cigarette by the window. “You need to leave,” she said, her eyes seemed to be looking out to somewhere far away. “Why, what is it? Is your husband coming back early?” “No… If I don’t say this now, it’ll be too late. We can’t keep this up. I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like children one day. You know what that means, don’t you? This can’t go on forever.” “Why now? This isn’t fair,” he protested. It was too sudden. “You asked me last night how long this could last? We both knew it was going to end eventually. The longer we leave it, the more we’ll get hurt.” He bit his lip. He wanted to argue more, but deep down he knew her words made sense. His reality was slowly crumbling like a brick wall. He was still just a boy after all. They had no future together, he knew that. But despite that, there was one thing he was sure of. He loved this woman. “Don’t get me wrong,” she added, “I really did enjoy our time together. I won’t forget…” He wasn’t certain, but he could have sworn he heard a trembling in her voice. — It was winter. He was on his way to an interview at the branch of a local company, then had plans to visit his girlfriend for Christmas. He pulled his scarf closer to his neck and continued across the bridge. With any luck he’d score the job and move into a bigger apartment. Maybe he’d finally ask her to move in with him. Excited at the prospect he hurried his step, causing him to crash into the figure of a taller woman from behind. “Excuse me,” he quickly apologized. She slowly turned around and brushed her hair back. She wore a mature yet beautiful face—there was something familiar he couldn’t quite place. Then it hit him. It might have been almost five years, but she hadn’t changed that much. There was no doubt about it, it was her. To her side she held the arm of a young girl who had been wrapped head to toe in woollen clothes. She looked a little older than four. “That’s quite all right,” she replied, lingering on his face for a moment. A flash of recognition seemed to dance across her eyes, or maybe he had imagined it. “I-..” he paused, unable to find the right words. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t will his lips to move. She looked at him apologetically and clutched the girl’s hand, “well, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.” “So, what did you do then?” his co-worker asked as he eagerly leaned over the table, almost knocking his beer over in the process. “What do you want me to say? That I grabbed her at the last moment and poured out my heart like in the movies?” “You didn’t?” “There were so many things I wanted to tell her…” Of course, now he knew exactly what he would have said. It probably would have been a long, passionate speech. “I don’t know if you feel the same way after all this years. Hell, I’m not even sure you still remember me. But the time we spent together… that’s got to count for something, right? And, “You once told me that we knew it was going to end eventually. But I’m not going to believe that we were doomed to fail from the start. Hadn’t you ever thought about what it’d be like to live the rest of our lives together? Why should we have settle for what might have been? “What do you suppose the chances are of us even finding each other like this? Maybe I’m still an idiot who doesn’t understand how the world works, but I can’t be the only one who thinks that maybe, just maybe, there’s a future out there for us. All that’s left is to look for it.” Yes. That is what he should have said.