For a Monday lunchtime the café was busy, humming with conversation. Joan sat awkwardly, uncertain what she should say.
Ted nudged the salt across the table. “I know you can’t take your potatoes without it,” he said with a smile, chocolate-brown eyes melting her hardened spirit.
She gave a false smile, took a deep breath and consciously relaxed her shoulders. Oblivious to her discomfort, he chatted on, recounting stories from work and joking about his foolish colleagues. She stared at her plate, pushing the peas around aimlessly.
He paused for breath, and in that moment the room seemed to fall silent. “I do love you, Joan,” he said tenderly.
She looked up at him sharply. “I know,” she said.
Beside them, the waitress noisily stacked bowls, plates crashing, cutlery clanging, a fork unexpectedly falling to the floor.
Joan sighed. “I know,” she repeated softly.
Reaching down to pick up the fork she caught the waitress’s eye. They stopped mid-movement, staring at each other. And then she knew.
She knew she had to end the relationship.
This was written in 20 minutes as an exercise, based on the picture 'New York Restaurant' by Edward Hopper, c 1922.