"Would you like something to drink?" "Oh, no, I'm fine."
He handed me one anyway;he can tell when I'm lying.
He sat, fidgeting strong, brittle hands that I used to hold.
The familiarity of all around me, of which I once called a home.
I struggled to open my bottle. He chuckled and laughed at me
...before reaching over and popping the top with the flick of his wrist with ease.
I playfully rolled my eyes and smiled through my sip.
He tossed the top and his eyes locked to mine, "How have you been?"
"I've been good. How are you?" I hated this cordial banter.
His eyes shifted downward and his shoulders shrugged up, took a swig of his beer for an answer.
"How are you? Honestly. I'd like a verbal response."
He repeated his actions, but with an eyebrow arch; "I'll tell the truth when you say what you want."
My courage waned as he just continued to down his drink.
I was going to respond, but he gently cut me off: "I mean, what would your boyfriend think?"
I knew that he knew that I know that he knows what I'll say.
I took a deep breath and exhaled with force as I uttered, "My fiancé."
The clench of his jaw stayed only a moment in frustration.
He finished his bottle and reached for another, "Well, then. Congratulations."
"He knows I'm here. He knows about you and all about us."
He took a long, steady, sizzling drag before smashing the cigarette butt.
He barely moved and didn't blink. He just sat and stared.
A deafening silence filled the room and hung over in the air.
He spoke softly: "He treats you good? Loves you? He nice?"
I nodded. He swatted a tear from his eye.
"Then that's all that matters. I was too old for you."
"You know I never cared about that." "I did. I do."
The irony in his phrase cut like a knife.
"You always deserved better than a man past his prime."
"I wanted you to know. If you said so... I wouldn't."
The tenseness as he shook his head. "Baby... I couldn't."
He rose from his chair and approached me with dread.
Ever so softly, he kissed the top of my head.
I gripped his torso and embraced what could have been.
His fingers stroked through my hair again and again.
"I'm fine. We're going to be fine." His spoke very low.
"I'm alright. I'll be okay." I held on. He let me go.