When the recurring casual mentioning of a particular person ceases to continue one day in your everyday conversation, people will ask about them, just out of pure curiosity.
People did not notice in the first few weeks, but then they saw the dots. I was lifeless. I wilt like a dying plant. I haven't been talking about the guy. They made the connection: we are broken up.
What happened? Are you alright?
I wasn't sure of my word choices. Sure, I could go for the basics.
It doesn't work.
The relationship ended.
I was not worth holding on to.
He dumped me.
I was dumped.
There are so many narratives to choose from, all a fair take on what happened, some sound more pathetic than the others, but which one sounds the nicest to me? Or, which one makes me feel less likely to well up and secretly wipe the tears from my eyes in order not to draw attention to myself? There's something awkward about crying in front of people, even though you know they won't judge, but still.
Then I thought about the coffee shop. To be fair, it was just a coffee kiosk, stall, whatever you call it, on the side of the walkway to my office, that sold mediocre coffee in a reasonable price I'm willing to pay every morning for a caffeine boost to keep me awake until lunch. Let's say it was good enough for me. I got my coffee from this particular shop every morning, for almost a year. The last few months I didn't even need to order it verbally. We had a connection. A simple nod was our code for I'll have a cup of iced Americano, please.
Sometimes we had a conversation. Miss Coffee Stall Owner and I.
Does the pandemic affect your business?
(Over the loud humming of coffee machine) Well to be honest, maybe a little. But I can make do.
(Jokingly) Will you still be here after another lockdown?
Yeah. If it's not too bad I would want to stay, of course!
(Smiling like an idiot under my mask)
Then one morning after the said lockdown, I couldn't find my stall anymore. Her stall, actually, not mine. It has never been my stall. I didn't own it.
There it wasn't. No more simple nod and a cup of iced Americano. No more ordering coffee with telepathy.
I lingered around the area to make sure I didn't just stupidly miss her stall. Maybe she happened to move the stall 3 feet away and I somehow didn't see it? Maybe it was hidden in the corner? Maybe she woke up late?
The walk to the office that morning was more like a traipse. I wasn't sure if it was because I didn't get my daily dose of caffeine, or whether it was because I was disappointed that she was gone. She said she wouldn't go away.
Hey but this thing is so trivial. Why do I care so much. Just a coffee shop. Plenty of choices.
I wasn't sure if it was a habit or whether I did care, I always found myself looking for the stall almost involuntarily, and averted my eyes when I realized I was looking at an empty spot on the pavement.
(Me 1) Hey but it's just a coffee spot.
(Me 2) Yeah but I like her coffee.
(Me 1) Does it have to be her coffee?
(Me 2) No. But I like her coffee.
So, just like that. The shop discontinued. No explanation needed. It simply discontinued.
I like the word discontinue. Cease doing or providing (something), typically something provided on a regular basis. No hard feelings. Not wordy. Sounds factual and not judging. Sounds almost indifferent. But it's also respectful. If you say it with a smile it feels sophisticated, even. But still, it's true and genuine. It's enough information. It's fair.
Thanks for asking. It must have shown right?
Yup, our relationship discontinued.