On a cool Sunday afternoon, they sat at their usual courtyard table in the seaside café. He gazed into the distance, taking in the sea. Of late, he ruminated, lamenting opportunities passed, risks untaken, dreams unpursued.
She knew he was floundering. Unhappy herself, fearing another argument or round of saber rattling would do them in, she sat silent. She would try a new approach if he gave her an opening.
There was, of course, their mutual sadness—a lifelong wound that they agreed to discuss one time a year on the anniversary of the accident.
He sipped his wine and sighed heavily. She put her hand on his, looking intently at the fishermen working their nets beyond the break wall. She always liked the way the boats glowed in the afternoon in autumn. The breeze freshened, making small white caps beyond the harbor.
“Tell me,” she said.
Their briefly eyes met, before he returned his gaze to the sea.
“I’m thinking about all the false promises born on these drunken Sunday afternoons,” he answered.
She too looked toward the sea again. She took a sip of wine. His pensive stare shifted downward. He traced the rim with his index finger. A seagull’s cry filled the void between them. She sighed.
“Isn’t the promise of next Sunday all we need?” she asked without looking at him.
“It’s all we have left…and, yes, each other,” he said.
He sat silent, sipped his wine, looked at her for a beat, then back to the sea.
He took a breath of salt air, remembering it was among his favorite things. He fought the lump growing in his throat. He squeezed her hand, then leaned over and kissed her cheek.
Finally, he asked, “another bottle?”
JD Clapp is based in San Diego, CA. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wrong Turn Literary, Café Lit, The Milk House, Fleas on the Dog, The Whisky Blot, among several others. His story, One Last Drop, was a finalist in the 2023 Hemingway Shorts Literary Journal, Short Story Competition.