She sighs as she lifts her coffee-cup to take another sip
"It's stupid, I know," she says, "it's over, and even before it was over it was obvious that the whole thing was going nowhere. We were never cut out to be together."
"He was bad for you," I put in, "He made you miserable far more often than he made you happy, and you know it."
She sighs again. "I know. But..."
"When he did make me happy, I really was very, very happy. I'm probably more content all around now, but I miss that madness, that floating feeling that I got when things were good. He's the only person who ever really made me feel beautiful, and I miss that. And he needed me, and I miss that. I miss him."
I try to be sympathetic. It's not easy. I never met a man I liked less than her ex and I'm really very glad that she finally had the sense to walk away from a relationship which was doing her no good at all.
She grins at me. "I know," she says, "you hated him. You don't have to say anything. It's just that..."
"His eyes look out at me from people that I meet. If someone smiles at me, a real genuine smile, I see them twinkle. If a guy looks interested, I think of the way he always looked at me when he wanted me. If I see somebody unhappy, I remember how they would fill with tears when he was hurt, and especially when I said that I really was leaving." She holds up her hand to stop the comment she knows I will make here. "Yes, he cried too easily, too conveniently, it was his way of manipulating me -- but even so, it always made my heart ache."
I'm not sure what expression was on my face, but she obviously saw worry in it.
"Oh, don't fret dear, it really is over. I'm not planning to call him or anything, and he's stopped calling me."
"I'll be fine Elizabeth, honestly, but you have to allow me my sentimental reminiscence, you know. He might not have been perfect but he was mine. Anyway, there's this guy at work I'm seeing, and I really like him. Maybe if it turns into something more, I'll be able to forget Chris for good, or at least stop pining. Now, enough about me, how's your love life going."
I shrug, dismissively "Oh, it has it's moments. I'm seeing someone, it's going well, and we'll see how things go in the long-term. I'm not counting any chickens just yet."
She grins. "Well maybe if things go well with David, and your thing works out, we can all meet up."
I nod, then look at my watch. "Where does the time go? I have to get back to work!"
We finish up our coffee quickly, hug and arrange to meet again in a few months. I watch her disappear, and she walks quickly, no sign of depression. I think she's right, I think she will be okay. I'm relieved.
When I leave work, my lover is waiting. I walk into his arms, and he kisses me.
"How was lunch?" he asks.
"Is Claire okay?"
"Yes, she seems to be. She says there's a man at work she's seeing, and she thinks it might turn into something good."
He nods, once, smiles and kisses me again. "That's good to hear, I hope it works out for her."
And Chris looks at me out those eyes that my friend sees everywhere, and I know why she can't forget him. I still don't like him, but he has a way of getting to you and making you love him, this man, even against your better judgement. I barely even feel a pang of guilt.