We sat at the table, not saying much at all. For my part that was fine. I thought we were enjoying what some call a companionable silence, not feeling the need to fill the quiet spaces with idle chatter. It just goes to show how wrong a man can be, sometimes.

I was nursing my coffee, enjoying the silky texture and the searing heat on my tongue. For me coffee is an experience, something upon which I focus my full attention. My philosophy is to milk all the pleasure available from each experience, whether it be a cup of coffee, a conversation, or a kiss.

Bob Seger was singing over in the corner, the jukebox playing away. He launched into the lyrics of an old familiar tune. I was enjoying the song, the notes like the caress of an old lover. I wasn't paying any particular attention, just going with the mood music sometimes creates.

"Your song is playing," she said, raising her green eyes for the first time in what I realized had been a long while.

I looked at her, saw again the sprinkle of freckles along her cheek and nose, looking almost like errant flakes of physical sunlight dusting her skin.

I focused on the song now, and Bob was coming to the meat of the matter.

The years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home
And I guess I lost my way
There were oh so many roads
I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or even how much I owed
Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time
Breaking all of the rules that would bend
I began to find myself searching
Searching for shelter again and again

Against the wind
A little something against the wind
I found myself seeking shelter sgainst the wind

Well those drifter's days are past me now
I've got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out

Against the wind
I'm still runnin' against the wind
I'm older now but still runnin' against the wind
Well I'm older now and still runnin'
Against the wind
Against the wind
Against the wind

"Ok, Bren, what are you trying to tell me?"

She responded "The song, it's about you. It's like he knows you."

"Yeah, maybe, but what's that got to do with anything? What's it got to do with us?"

"I don't know, really. It's just that being with you is like living with a clock that's wound too tight. You're always pushing against something. I don't even think you know you're doing it. It's just the way you are, it's like breathing to you, and it's weaaring me out."

So, there it is, out in the open. She hadn't been enjoying the companionable silence, she'd been looking for a way to open the conversation, the one where we fatally wound our relationship, slip a shiv into its warm heart. Bob Seger had swung the door open, let in the gust of cold air, atmosphere cold enough to shrivel love on the vine. It wasn't Bob's fault, he was just trying to earn a living, make an honest buck, do his thing. If it hadn't been that song, it'd have been something else.

"So, what are you saying? Do you want out? Is that what this is all about? Talk to me, Brenda."

Tears started to flow, and God, I hate when that happens. It's not bad enough you're getting dumped, you have to watch the tears, the ones you own, the ones you bought and paid for with your lack of sufficiency, your inability to be enough.

"If you want for me to go, that's alright. Just be sure that's what you want because the door swings one way. If I go, I'm not coming back. So be sure you know what you want before you ask for it, ok?"

There it was, the challenge, the invitation to cut the cord, the Sword of Damocles waiting to sever that which can never be reassembled. It's one of the basic rules, one that you can count on. Never throw down a challenge you can't back up or live with. I'd thrown my trump, put all my coin on the table, prepared to let it ride.

She called my hand. She knew she didn't have to raise me, and she knew she had me beat in sight.

"Yeah, I think it's time for us to not be together any more." She was still crying quietly, but I saw the change from tears of sorrow into tears of triumph. She was making the break and it hadn't been an over dramatic scene, no blood, no screaming. Hell, this had gone off so smoothly I wondered if she'd give a curtain call, maybe even an encore.

It was another Friday night, just the death of a love. I got up, laid a bill on the table to cover the check, walked out into the frigid wind. The coffee had been really fine.


Song lyrics:

Against the Wind
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

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