The clouds hung low in the sky, but there was an odd brightness to them that couldn’t be ignored. I felt it was fitting, certainly more conducive to the autumn chill than the sun shining on a clear day. Add in the smell of the pumpkin and apple pastries and the environment was an almost perfect picture of the season. Of course, such moments were fleeting, blinking in and out of existence with but the smallest change.
I’d probably been waiting for 10 minutes at this point, if I were to take a guess. I couldn’t order yet, but sitting alone at a table with nothing on it just seems suspect to me. I didn’t exactly have a book to read, and I didn’t want to go down any rabbit holes on my phone just to be interrupted. I mostly just kept looking out the window, seeing if I recognised anyone.
My gazing was finally interrupted when someone came up to my table, speaking.
“Long time no see.”
“It has been a while hasn’t it?”
They took a seat across from me at the table, “Yeah, I'm surprised I recognised you still.”
“I wish I could say the same, you look like a different person.”
“It’s the haircut I’m sure, I can't have everyone see how thin it’s gotten.”
“Is that so, I would’ve never guessed.”
Our exchange was interrupted by the waitress. I got a chai tea, they went with an americano. I raised a brow at the choice, but it wasn’t for me to judge.
They looked to me after the server left, “So, how long have you been here for?”
“A few months, I’ll probably be gone within a year or two.”
“Sounds like a lot of trouble.”
“It’s the nature or the industry, you’re always moving”
The conversation came to a halt for a moment, I looked around as before finally chiming back in.
“How about you, how long are you staying for?”
“Oh, I’m just here on business, I’ll be back home by the end of the week.”
“Huh, never took you for a corporate type.”
“I wouldn’t really call it corporate…”
“Well, what would you call it?”
“I always thought of it as being more policy oriented, but I can’t think of a word.”
“Oh, I get that.”
The conversation was cut once again. I scrambled through my mind for anything relevant to say, but in the end nothing came. They snuck a glance at their watch and scanned the room with only slight head motions. I found myself staring at the people in the tables around us, I lacked the focus to make out what they were saying, but they all seemed to be enjoying themselves, at least as far as I could tell. My rash judgements of everyone in the room were ended by the arrival of our server.
“I must say, that was a bit quicker than I expected.” I said after the waitress left.
“How much faster could they be?”
“I guess you’re right, probably just me.”
“Remind me, whatever happened with uhh…” I rotate my wrist as I stall for a name
“Ohhh wow, that’s quite the throwback. Yeah, we broke up.”
“I’m sorry to hear that?”
“Oh don’t be, it was for the best.”
“No hurt feelings?”
“I don’t think so, we don’t really talk but we aren’t exactly on bad terms either.”
“Not unreasonable I guess?”
“How about you, are you still single?”
“I do seem to keep ending up that way, yes?”
“Not for lack of charm of course.”
“Of course,” I drink some of my chai, “yeah, no, it’s a typical case of conflicting goals.”
“Oh, so you haven’t found anyone who’s willing to put up with you moving house every year or so.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“I guess, it’s a bit hard to imagine after settling down is all.”
“To each their own.”
We seemed to be at an impasse once again, and I didn’t have any history left to bring up. I took the opportunity to call over the waitress and order some pound cake. We were probably getting close to wrapping things up, or at least I hoped this was the case. Worst case scenario I still had an unusual work schedule that I could use as an exit.That said, I still felt restless waiting for my order. I noticed my old friend checking their phone beneath the table, and I did the same hoping that it sent the proper signal.
The waitress arrived with my food, and I set my plan in motion.
“Well, I should probably get going. It was nice seeing you.”
“Not going to stay for the food?”
“No, I really can't, I need to get to work and I think the next train leaves in about 5 minutes.”
“Wait, don’t you have a car?” They look at me, eyes wide.
“No,” I squint slightly, “why would I?”
“Well you have to at least let me drive you then.”
“No, you really don’t…”
“Come on, I got a really nice rental and the perfect excuse to show it off.”
“Indulge me, please.”
“...I guess traffic isn’t too bad at the moment...”
“That’s what I thought.”
I paid our bill (my condition for the free ride), and in the parking lot I found myself walking towards a Porsche 911. I’m very well read on cars, but everything about it points to it being brand new. We finally stopped in front of the car when my friend spoke.
“It’s nice, isn’t it?”
“Very. I just hope you’re charging the rental fee to your expense account.”
“No expense too great, no excuse too petty.”
“That’s the spirit.”
I stepped in on the passenger side, the black leather interior contrasted nicely with the silver shell. Beyond the look, the vehicle even smelled expensive. I was taking it all in before the car seemingly launched forward. I struggled to put on my seatbelt as we pulled onto the main road.
We seemed to weave in and out of traffic, aggressively taking any opening afforded. I didn’t notice the finer details of the driving and I was in no place to judge, I didn’t even have a license. The only thing I knew for certain is that we were moving fast. By the time I had finally become acquainted with the motion, it was already time for me to step out.
I looked over to my old friend, “Thanks for the ride.”
“We should do this again sometime.”
I stepped out of the vehicle and they sped off.