“If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice” – unknown
Stella gazed at the passersby from the window of the restaurant. Aidan hadn’t said much to her. They were sitting across each other but there was an invisible barrier that prevented any real communication. It wasn’t just that day. It had been a while since they’d had a meaningful conversation. She started with something about his favorite band, thinking he might get interested. Just then, his phone started ringing. His eyes darted towards her and rejected the call before she could glance at the screen. She pretended to not notice.
For a minute, he pretended to listen to what she was saying. But that phone call had diverted his attention. So he excused himself and started going through his phone. She saw that telltale smile appear on his face and then gave up. She knew what it meant. She had used his phone to make a call some time back and had seen the messages. The desire to know the truth had been replaced with the desire to not know it. She couldn’t confront him. She didn’t want to believe it. And when she did believe it, she still couldn’t confront him. She was hoping he would come clean. But so far, it hadn’t happened.
Aidan and Stella hadn’t always been that way. They had been inseparable ever since they met in college. They were head over heels. But somehow in the next few years, they had gone from wanting to talk every waking hour of the day to avoid spending more than hour together at a stretch. Stella looked at the happy couple on the next table and sighed. She was thinking about the time they had come across a painted wall that read “Amor cuerdo, no es amor” in Cuba. She liked the way the words sounded and pointed it out to him. “Sane love, is no love” Aidan translated. She looked at him questioningly.. how had he known that? He just shook his head and smiled mysteriously. Aidan. Annoying and adorable.
At that moment, Aidan looked up and saw the distant smile on Stella’s face. To him, things hadn’t changed all that much. They’d been having a weekly date for years now. The only difference was that the restaurants had become fancier – now that they could both afford it. But fancier didn’t necessarily mean better. They were beginning to understand that. It wasn’t easy.. coming to terms with a reality they didn’t want. Things had been so much simpler – they could talk about anything under the sun. Now, they had to spend all their time deciding a fairly neutral topic and carefully mince their words – taking offence had become a knee-jerk reaction. Meanwhile, Stella’s had phone started ringing.
She stood up and excused herself to take the call. It was from work. She needed to get on her laptop. She asked Aidan if he minded. He just looked at her quietly and shook his head. She left and halfway out, remembered she hadn’t gotten the laptop from office. She turned around and bumped into someone on his way out. She knew him.. He went to college with her and Aidan. What was his name? But she needn’t have worried. Caleb didn’t mind. It had been a while. He’d asked if she wanted to catch up sometime. She nodded almost immediately. Cool, he said and they exchanged numbers. Aidan was waiting. He got up and went to look for Stella and spotted her, laughing at something Caleb had said. He pretended to not notice and got back to their table.
At the table, Aidan waited for Stella to return. She joined him within a few minutes and sat down. She looked cheerful. It wasn’t because of Aidan, he certainly knew that. And for some reason, Stella didn’t mention anything about running into Caleb. She didn’t know why. He was friends with both of them, after all. She discarded the thought. At that moment, both their phones went off – ringing loudly. They glanced at each other and quickly swiped across the screen. Like most people, they’d both started paying attention to what they were missing rather than what they had. The rest of dinner went by smoothly with them alternately checking phones and making small talk. This time, they were more tolerant towards each other.
“The food’s good, ” Aidan commented.
“Best I’ve had in a while,” Stella agreed.