Creative · Fiction · Slice of Life · writing

Hollow Sights

A continuation from previous observations in a Loughborough coffee shop


There are those who come in twos.

Work colleagues, old friends, new friends, business meeting pairs; to name but a few.

Whether it be awkward or exhaustive chatter, they always feel compelled to fill the silence. Not that the place is ever silent. Everybody talks too loud to be heard over the grinder, the comings and goings from the door, and the void left by forced amicable interaction.

“Oh, it’s been far too long!” An older woman croons as she goes for a week hug.

Perhaps there was a reason why it had been “far too long”.

Not long enough.

The pastries and overpriced coffees provide a welcome buffer; almost something to hide behind. Their excuse for not talking could become the food they were eating, the beverage they were drinking.

As the place calmed in the wake of the lunch rush, the small-talk seemed even hollower.

Cavernous.

“Any pastries for the two of you to share?” The cheery barista asked the two of them, and the young woman of the pair immediately forced a smile and shook her head. No. Goodness no.

“We’re fine, thank you. That will be all.” It was becoming increasingly difficult to stand next to him and be subjected to those assumptions. Why? As work associates, could they not talk over a hot drink about business-related things without being mistaken for a couple?

His smile was a little too flawless, a little too understanding as she spoke for both of them. Again. She always did that.

He selected a table for two beside the window, where they could be seen by those walking past. A few young couples occupied spaces behind them when they took their seats, and he could see her uneasiness and weariness as she shrugged off her jacket.

“Right. So. According to this week’s figures…” Her voice became background noise as he tried his best to look attentive.

How long had this been going on for now?

Since she had latched onto him for being the ‘safe’ option out of the other ravenous male marketing managers in their office. It could have been an eternity ago, it could have been yesterday.

Time didn’t make sense in that way.

“… Are you even listening to me?” She prompted. Much like now, and how time proceeded to race on and leave him behind. He nodded, smiled apologetically, and focused at the task at hand.

At least they could expect a decent pay rise out of this.

Probably all she cared about.

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