A Table for Two at a Cafe

Submitted into Contest #183 in response to: Write about a character who uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism.... view prompt


Fiction Romance Drama

Should we order wine?


Don’t be that way.

What way? Order wine if you want.

I will then.

Go for it.

“Waiter. Please bring me a wine menu.”

”Yes madam.”

See. You can do it.

Now you’re just being difficult. Stop it.

Or what?

Or I’ll leave.

Leave then.

What happened to us?

Life. Life happened.

Life happened? That’s it? A cliché?

Life is a cliché.

Did you ever love me?

What is love?

Don’t give me that. Did you?

“Madam. Your wine list.”

“Thank you. Leave it.”

Did you?

Did I what?

Love me? Did you love me?

Maybe not.

I could always tell when you were lying.

And how’s that?

I just could. That’s all.

We both lied my dear.

I’ll leave.

No you won’t.

This is our place. You and I. Our table.

I know. Isn’t it wonderful?

You’re a sarcastic SOB you know that?

Am I?

Do you remember? This very table, our first date, and you were so cute in your too small sweater, your collar tight, so nervous you knocked the chair over. You took one look at the menu and went white with the prices, so I ordered the most expensive thing, the osso bucco, and you nearly fainted. I changed my mind though and ordered the chicken and the relief on your face, my god. We finished the wine and talked and talked and talked until they were closing down and asked us to leave. Do you remember? But then the owner took one look and brought us a cannoli. Later we got up to leave and you were such a gentleman and put your jacket around my shoulders, what was it that army thing, and that’s when I knew.

The best thing was the free cannoli.

Yes. The cannoli was. It was free.

“Oh… I’ll take the house pinot. The Mary Edwards.”

“Of course madam.”

So that’s all I get. A maybe not.

Well, color me embittered.

Embittered. What an awful word… Well, I loved you.

And how is that?

In every way imaginable.

That sounds nice.

And there you go again taking it away.

Is that what I do? Take it away?


Well I’ll try harder.

I would lie at night and hear you breath. If the light was right. The moon. I’d reach--

Did I snore?

You did sometimes and I would give you a shove.

A kick probably.

“Thank you. That’s all for now. I may order later.”

What would you have changed?

Money. Less is not enough and more is too much.

Money is overrated.

So says the woman who has it.

You know what I mean.

Do I?

You in your sarcasm. I always knew what it was.

And what’s that? What did you always know?

I always knew you couldn’t get it out, your true feelings, and that was your dishonesty, but it didn’t matter.

Aren’t you the wise psychologist.

Do you remember the Love Hotel?

Was there a hurricane? There’s always a hurricane in St Martin.

We were young and drank margaritas with no salt and sat on the deck in the shade, the sun being so strong it hurt our eyes. We breathed in the wet salt air and felt the wind and looked at the water like emeralds washing against the pier and watched the Frenchman bring in the boats and later made love.

That is a hurricane.

And then we took the boat to the island with the pink beach and picked up shells and I splashed you with cold water and you chased me into the ocean, and we laughed so hard.

You really are on a roll, aren’t you?

Do you think anyone?  Any couple that is, had it like us?


I don’t. And you don’t either. I think what we had was a thing. A thing you could touch, and hold, and see even.

Like a firefly.

No. Not that. Just listen. For once just listen. It’s too precious to waste.

Waste not, want not.

You’re exasperating.

If nothing else, I am that.

Do you remember Val d'Isère? It was summer and we hiked up. It was hot and you insisted on carrying the pack. Finally we reached the top in the perfect sun and the alps were at our feet in every direction. Actual chairs were set up, because of the gondola I suppose, so we sat silently and it seemed the sky had stopped but we, on the point of the world, moved through them, blazing reds and pinks and whites and blues all around us as we moved through the sky, parting for us, just us moving through that sky on the point of the world.

And then it rained.

Yes. It rained and we took the gondola down. But before the rain. I’m talking about before the rain.

Yes. Before the rain.

Do you think we could try again?

I’m all ears.

Two people that love each other.

Love is blind you mean?

No. Not blind.

It sounds like a tricky proposition.

We could do it though. We could just say the hell with it and walk out of here and hold hands on Fifth Avenue like we did and window shop to admirer the art in the storefronts and then maybe walk up to The Met and we could argue about this artist or that and decide it was all great, being The Met after all, and then sit on a bench in Central Park and people watch the world and remark on who loved who and why.

That would be a hell of a thing.

You’re crying.

Sure. I’m a real blubber puss.

You can do it you know. Just set the sarcasm aside, that thing that’s got you, that won’t let you be free, honest, or vulnerable, just come out. I’ll help. Just come through. I’m here.

It's a pretty thick wall.

I know but fight. JUST LET IT OUT.

I… I…

My god your face. No. I’m sorry. Just set it aside. It’s ok. It doesn’t matter.

Well, I gave it a college try.

I know you did. And I love you for that.

“Madam. Excuse me.”

“Yes. I’m not ready to order.”

“It’s not that madam. I’m… I’m embarrassed to say. He insisted.”


“The gentleman at the bar madam. He saw you alone. He was wondering if you’d join him for a drink. At the bar that is.”

“Thank him but tell him no.”

“Of course madam. I’m sorry for disturbing you.”


“Yes madam.”

“Please bring me my check.”

“Of course madam. Right away.”

January 29, 2023 23:21

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Wendy Rogers
05:21 Feb 07, 2023

Written so well, I loved the take on their relationship. Great descriptive language


Jack Kimball
14:50 Feb 07, 2023

Thank you Wendy. It was fun to write. Welcome to Reedsy!


Wendy Rogers
16:55 Feb 07, 2023

Thanks for the welcome!


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Lily Finch
18:18 Feb 06, 2023

Jack, Such an interesting approach to the sarcasm prompt. A woman who fabricates conversations held with her deceased husband, who was a sarcastic lover. Nicely done. LF6


Jack Kimball
19:17 Feb 06, 2023

Thank you Lily. The intent was building subtext with a series of beats. He could never drop his shell protecting his vulnerability but she loved him anyway.


Lily Finch
21:00 Feb 06, 2023

Jack, Many people share this issue in love/relationships, whether fiction or other. LF6


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Graham Kinross
00:37 Feb 06, 2023

Love may not be blind, but it probably needs to be tested for some new glasses!


Jack Kimball
02:15 Feb 06, 2023

Graham’s wit strikes again! Love ain’t 20/20—even on Mars where you are building your worlds. Thank you for reading it


Graham Kinross
02:46 Feb 06, 2023

You're welcome. What's next for you? Working on anything for the new prompts?


Jack Kimball
00:21 Feb 09, 2023

I think I'll post 'Date with a Meadow' ; disconnecting to an analog life. We'll see.


Graham Kinross
01:07 Feb 09, 2023

I look forward to it.


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KT George
21:14 Feb 05, 2023

Fantastic! I enjoyed the way you broke out the dialogue. And the ending was perfect.


Jack Kimball
22:31 Feb 05, 2023

Thank you Kt. Wasn’t sure I had the ending right so your comment made my day.


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Tommy Goround
12:31 Feb 05, 2023

Congratulations on recommended list


Jack Kimball
16:32 Feb 05, 2023

Thank you Tommy! Next time I'll write about dragons. Maybe call 'Mr. Dragon' for some insight on the dragon world. Best. Jack


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Beth Jackson
07:24 Feb 05, 2023

This was lovely, Jack! I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded through dialogue and the little clues you dropped about the ending along the way were expertly done! Great story, I really enjoyed reading it! Thank you for sharing! :-)


Jack Kimball
16:17 Feb 05, 2023

Thank you Beth. Especially from you considering the the way you add detail in your stories like "Self-Discovery ”. Glad you picked up the clues in "A Table for Two at a Cafe". I was trying to have the reader realize they 'could have' known what was going on.


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Niki Smallwood
04:34 Feb 05, 2023

"Yes. The cannoli was. It was free." Wow. I could hear the venom dripping off that one as I read it. Nice work!


Jack Kimball
15:50 Feb 05, 2023

Yes. I'm flattered you picked up on that. Venom wrapped in lament was the intent. Thank for taking the time to read it.


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Rebecca Miles
21:36 Feb 04, 2023

I really enjoyed how you built the dialogue here with the echo-effect where key words are picked up but transmuted by the second speaker. This builds in pathos when the reader realises this isn't an everyday conversation between an exasperated husband and wife. Unusual and moving, well done.


Jack Kimball
02:35 Feb 06, 2023

Thank you Rebecca. That was my intent and you recognized what I was after.


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22:23 Jan 30, 2023

Oh, this is lovely. My heart hurt with the ending, and it was so unexpected, at least for me.


Jack Kimball
03:54 Jan 31, 2023

I'm so glad you liked it Patricia. I thought it would be interesting to write a story that was almost all dialog, but for the memories. The prompt was sarcasm of course but the story was a woman remembering her sarcastic husband, who she lost.


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