The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.


9. Unspoken.

She sipped her green tea latte and I watched her do it.
'What?' she asked.
'Nothing,' I replied.
She wiped a dribble of it from her lip as she placed the cup back down.
'How can you drink that?'
'I like it,' she responded, knowing we'd had this conversation before. 'It's just tea. It's good for you.'
'Fuck that...' I sunk my Americano.
'You know what your problem is?'
'No... But I'm sure you're going to let me know.'
'Habits. You've got too many of them, and they're all the bad ones.'
'But the bad ones are my favourite.'
She passed me a smile. 'You know... You don't change do you?'

We'd been split up a couple of years by now, and though this wasn't the first time we'd hung out since then, it was certainly the most normal. Maggie had left an impression that I thought would never go. I'd gotten used to it now, it was comfortable really. The past was the past, and though we touched on it from time to time, neither one of us dwelled there too long.

'Arthur,' she picked up. 'When are you going to move out of that place?'
'I don't know.' This was a fresh thought to me. 'I'm not sure that I want to.'
'Are you kidding me? You've been talking about moving away since I don't know when.'
'And I will.'
'But you just said you weren't sure that you wanted to? Are you ever going to make your mind up on anything?'
'What is that supposed to mean?' The good thing about taking irregular coffee/green tae latte hook ups with an ex is that you can give it to each other straight, no apologies.
'You know what that means.'
'Please...' She smiled at me. That smile always got at me. 'You've been talking about New York since I can't remember.'
'You're repeating yourself,' I jibed.
'That makes two of us then.'
'We must be cyclical,' I replied.

As we walked from the cafe, she slid her arm inside mine. It freaked me out for a second as I searched inside my stomach for how to react.
'You know what,' she picked up. 'I wish I could be honest about us.'
I let her arm stay there. It was familiar, and I knew what she was getting at was the comfort of 'us'. I knew because sometimes, you just know. 'Honest in what way?'
'To friends. People.'
'They don't know that we talk?'
'No. I mean, I've told a few people, you know, that we've talked. But not that we talk.'
'Because you're still a prick. To them, I mean.'
'I know what you mean. We've got a short-hand, remember?'
And for a lot more steps, neither of us said anything else, her thinking her thoughts, and me trying to imagine just what she might be thinking.
When we got to the car, she found the courage to ask what she'd been thinking about. 'Arthur?'
'Do you...' She petered out.
'Go. The light is green, the road is yours.' I returned that smile she'd passed me earlier.
'Do you ever hang out with her, you know? Like we do?'
Beat. Who knew? Who knew that this would be a concern. 'Come on...' I deflected. 'Why would that matter?' But I knew it would. It'd matter to anybody. Although the love is filed away, the past lives on a shelf in the back of your mind, certain things will always matter.
'I don't know why it matters,' she continued. 'But it does.'
'Sometimes,' I replied. 'But not in that way.' It hurt her. I could see she didn't know why, but it was obvious it had hit her a little bit in the heart. 'Hey, it's just a friends thing.'
'Of course.' Maggie didn't finish what I thought she was going to say next.
'What is it?'
'I don't know...' But she obviously did.
'Okay then... Well, let's catch up again soon, okay?'
'Okay? You're repeating yourself, again.'
'Yeah, yeah.' And when we should have said goodbye, neither one of us did anything. We just stood. 'Come on,' I pushed. 'What is it?'
'I don't know...' She fumbled with her keys. 'I just think that... Well, you're leaving me.'
'Leaving you? Maggie, we're not together anymore.'
'I know that. God, I feel like a dick saying it.'
'But when you do leave that house, when you do go to New York, we won't be able to do this.'
'Right. But you can come see me.'
'Hey,' I needed to change this ending. I couldn't leave it this way. 'We'll always have this.'
'Yeah, us. The unspoken. Our shorthand.'
'So even if our unspoken is over a hundred, two hundred or a thousand miles, it's still ours.'
'Yeah.' She smiled once more. 'I'll see you around.'
And with a small kiss to my cheek, she was gone.

I smiled as I drove away, thinking about all the significant conversations we'd had over the years, coming right up to date with her green tea latte and my americano. Habits. You've got too many of them, and they're all the bad ones. That, I thought, was a line I'd use in the next book. She wouldn't mind. After all, we'd spent many years giving and taking from each other, it was just part of our unspoken.
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