Two sweaters, a wool coat, softened wool scarf tightly tied around my neck, my hair pulled back in a smooth chignon, only my gloves are off as I sit across from him in total silence, both of us lost in quiet habits as I twirl my wedding band around in circles on my ring finger using my thumb and the side of my little finger, an action that sometimes ends in fluttering, and he plays notes on an imaginary fretboard, left hand only. It's like having coffee with Buckethead, and I'm tempted to laugh out loud but instead I put on my sorry face and focus my attentions on the frosted window and the wintery city beyond the glass.
Why is the light so dim in here, and the coffee so rich? Why has all the color drained out of his once-warm golden brown eyes as we meet on neutral territory to try and find some peace? Why is it all so pointless and why can I never get warm? Why won't he just talk to me and better still, why won't I talk to him?
We don't talk, instead I stop twirling my ring and reach across the table to stop his fingers and he covers my tiny hand with his big one and he stares at me and I notice the circles under his washed-out eyes and the set of his face. His own sorry face mirrors mine and I abruptly decide that I can't look at it anymore.
He sees the change in my eyes and grabs my hand tighter but I pull away in spite of his efforts and before he can consider saying whatever he wouldn't say when we had each other's full attention, I am gone in a blur of colors, scents and emotions written all over me: robin's egg blue, brown, sandalwood, blonde, mourning and despair. Thankfully he doesn't chase me.
I hailed a taxi to take me home, settling in the back seat and taking my phone out of my pocket, reaching PJ who had agreed to look after the kids at the last minute. His curiosity was rich in his words but he didn't ask me any questions other than how long I would take to get home. I guessed ten minutes and we hung up. I slipped my phone back into my pocket and then realized I left my gloves on the table beside Ben.
I pulled my phone out again and stared at his name on the already vibrating phone. I answered without speaking, and he said only that he had my gloves and he would bring them the next time he saw me, without making any plans as to time or place. He told me to put my hands in my pockets, that it was cold. An instruction you give to children who don't listen. Careful, deliberate instructions as if they don't know any better. He hung up.
I hadn't even noticed how cold my hands were. I put I them in my pockets.