Valentine – Richard Hawley
We sat there in the restaurant. Facing each other but a million miles apart. I didn’t know what to say to her, and she clearly didn’t know what to say to me despite our five years together. Thankfully, the waiter eased the tension by coming over to take our order. I ordered a steak, medium rare, and chips with peppercorn sauce, and she had tuna.
As we waited for the meals to arrive, we readily got through a bottle of wine between us. I had no idea why we were here. No, that’s not true. I knew exactly why we were here – Valentine’s Day. We were there for the same reason everyone else was there: buying into the whole commercialised bullshit that tells us if we don’t spend money on our partners on the fourteenth of February, we clearly don’t love them.
Anyway, we forced some small talk – me about work, her about her neurotic friends. I listened to her talk and wondered how we had got to this point. We used to be close, but now it felt like we were drifting apart, and neither of us knew what to do about it, or wanted to acknowledge it. After what seemed an eternity, our food arrived and I ordered another bottle of wine – neither of us were driving – to help the evening go quicker. We ate with hardly a word exchanged and then had the usual “shall we, shan’t we” debate with dessert. I really didn’t want to sit there any longer, but pressure got to me, and we ended up sharing an Eton Mess. I felt quite sick afterwards, having eaten most of it, and felt even sicker when the bill arrived. But I paid without a complaint, and we walked home together, arm in arm.
We got into bed, and lay there in darkness. I pondered the whole situation in silence, she was beside me and I could hear a sort of desperate sigh emanating from her direction every now and then. I leaned over to kiss her good night, and she turned to meet me. Our lips met, but there was no love there any more. She was soon asleep, her steady breathing giving the game away, but for me sleep wouldn’t come. I reflected on the reality of the situation we were in, and wondered if there was any way forward.
Morning came, and I must have fallen asleep, because she wasn’t there in bed. I got up and found a note she’d written to me. To sum up, she wasn’t sure about us any more. The connection we once had was gone and she didn’t know what to do to bring it back again. Beside the note, the roses I’d bought her were on the table and starting to dry out in the morning sunshine. A symbol of something perhaps…