The Cafe by
(308 Stories)

Prompted By Imagined Lives

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Recently at a neighborhood cafe I saw an attractive older couple deep in conversation,  their hands touching on the table.  (See West Side Story)   

Both wore wedding rings,  but their body language told me they weren’t married to each other.  I’ll never know their backstory so I imaged this one for them.

The Cafe

Early in their marriage her husband often travelled on business.  She didn’t mind having a few days to herself –  she’d come home from work and have a sandwich as she watched TV,  or meet a friend for dinner,  or take a book to a restaurant and prop it up on the table while she ate.

Then once when her husband was away the date seemed familiar and she realized it was her old boyfriend’s birthday.  They hadn’t seen each other in a decade and she calculated it would be his milestone 30th.  Knowing he worked in the city,  she looked him up and called.

He said he was married but would love to see her.  She agreed to meet him for old times’ sake,  and they found their attraction as strong as ever.

And from then on they’d meet when each could steal a few hours,  and they’d jokingly say they were just two old lovers making up for lost time.  And as long as their spouses were kept in the dark,  they’d tell each other,  no one would be hurt.

And like the couple in Neil Simon’s Same Time Next Year,  their affair went on for decades.

Then one day they met at a cafe and he told her he was retiring and he and his wife were moving out of state.  It was a gut punch for them both,  and they spoke about things they hadn’t discussed in earnest before.

They shared dissatisfactions in their marriages,  and the certainty they still loved each other,  although leaving their spouses and breaking up their families had always been too daunting to even consider.

And now,  both in their 70s and soon to be living hundreds of miles apart,  they knew they might never see each other again.  They rued their youthful breakup,  and imagined how happy they’d have been had they married all those years ago.

And although they’d kept their relationship a secret,  and despite their insistence to the contrary,  they knew in some ways the infidelity and deceit must have taken its toll.

And sitting in that cafe they had the first taste of their comeuppance,  and they knew they’d both suffer the pain of regret.

Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Infidelity
Characterizations: been there, moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Dana, this is a lovely story, full of poignance and details. I loved the way the former lovers enjoyed meeting up occasionally, never hurt anyone else, just enjoying each other’s company, but were so upset when the man moved away, imaging what might have been…

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    That is a bittersweet story for sure, and you came up with one that walks that fine line of what could or should have been without a right answer. Regrets would have happened either way, breaking up their marriages or not. Emotions run deep and don’t disappear with age as it turns out.

  3. Thanks for reminding me of Same Time Next Year – I have fond memories of Ellen Burstyn (who played the part of stage) and Alan Alda (who went on to appear in another film I enjoyed The Four Seasons.)

  4. Dave Ventre says:

    A bittersweet tale. It so reminds me of my much-later-in-life attempt to have a friendship with “Maria.” That also ended badly. but more with acrimony than sadness.

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