Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Friendship Affair

The Friendship Affair by Linzé Brandon
Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?

University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?  


Stephanie reached out and touched his hand for a moment.
“Are you happy?”
Nick slowly shook his head. “Not really. Not that it would make a difference does it? It is not just my marriage.”
He leaned back and looked up at the ceiling of the coffee shop. It must have been one hell of a party; he wondered distractedly at the shoe prints.
He sat forward again and played with the teaspoon.
She could see he was not the same person she had met at university. They never had a relationship. It was funny, thinking about it now.
“Why did we never go out?”
He gave a short laugh. “I don't know. Maybe we are just meant to be friends.”
She smiled. “I know. We just never had that chemistry.”
“Yeah,” he replied, also smiling now.
Their smiles faded.
“Then again chemistry is overrated,” he muttered.
Thinking back at her own situation, she had no counter argument to offer. There were the general opinions she could mention, but it felt jaded, fake somehow, so she kept quiet.
They sat there staring at nothing for long minutes. It was both awkward and yet not. The world around them kept talking, drinking coffee, reading their mobile phones, typing away on their computers.
Was this what their lives had become?
“It is sad isn't it?”
She looked up when he spoke. There it was. The hopelessness of life sucking away at the happiness they were all supposed to find after uni.
Instead of replying she nodded in the general direction of the hotel where they ran into each other three days ago. “Does she make you happy?”
He waved to the waiter, and they ordered another round.
“How could she? How could anyone be happy with a few hours of forgetting every month?”
“Then why?”
He shrugged. “Why do you do it?”
She shrugged too. “Forgetting, is a good way to explain it. There is nothing else there for me. I doubt that he feels anything either.”
Their coffee came. He added sugar.
She tore open the packet of sweetener.
He played with the miniature milk jug.
She watched his fingers make the leftover milk bounce to the edges.
“How often?” he asked, avoiding her eyes.
She didn't need clarification. “Once a week. Sometimes more. You?”
“Standing arrangement. Twice a week.”
“Do you always go to a hotel?”
He shook his head. “No. She lives alone.”
He shrugged again. “Hotels can be risky. People start remembering your face.”
She nodded. “Yeah, he mentioned that.”
To her right a couple were holding hands and staring into each other's eyes. She didn't spot any rings. Still dating then.
“He's married.”
“Lots of lonely people out there.”
She stirred the coffee and patiently let the last drop fall from the teaspoon before putting it in the saucer.
“He loves fucking around. Thrill seeker I suppose.”
“Yeah, you get those too,” he replied before lifting his cup to take a sip.
Somewhere behind him, there were bursts of laughter. The kind sounding like students taking a break. It was loud, yet short. Almost too much.
“You want to take a walk?”
She waved her hand for the bill. “Can't. Have a meeting in half an hour.”
Holding her hand on the folder when he wanted to take it. Their eyes met.
For a moment, there was life in the battle of wills. It faded when her hand won.
“Next week?”
~Chapter 3: Next week