“How are things going with Daniel?” Thomas asks casually, as he makes himself comfortable on one of the fluffy couches at the back of the café.
“Why don’t we sit outside?” Catherine asks, nervously. “Everyone’s sitting at the terrace and it’s actually quite sunny today.”
“Nah, I’m alright here,” he says.
“Oh, come on, Catherine, it’s packed outside!” he exclaims. “I didn’t come all the way down here to sunbathe on an overcrowded terrace. I came to see you and catch up.” He pats on the sofa next to him, inviting her to take a sit by his side.
“Alright,” Catherine sighs, as she sits down on a chair across from him.
“How are things with Daniel?” he insists.
“It’s not Daniel. It’s David,” Catherine answers.
“Well, whatever. How are things with him?”
“Fine,” she says casually, as she makes a sign to the waitress, who comes in no time, pad in hand, ready to take their orders.
“Would you like something to drink?” the young waitress asks, as she stares at Thomas and gives him a shy smile.
“I’ll have a beer, thanks,” he says.
The girl puts her pad back in her apron pocket and turns around, as if Catherine was not there at all. “Er… I think I’ll have a glass of red wine, thank you!” Catherine says, wondering whether she got her order at all. She rolls her eyes and returns her attention to Thomas, who’s staring at her with that wicked smile on his face. “What?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Which question?” She starts biting her nails.
“I think you know very well what I’m talking about, so stop acting dumb,” Thomas answers. He leans towards her and slaps her hand off her mouth. “Stop biting your nails!”
She smiles shyly at the thought of those days when he would sit next to her at University and slap her hand off her mouth whenever he caught her biting her nails, as if she were a toddler. Long gone are now those days, when they were young and irresponsible and too selfish to think of the pain they were to cause to those who loved them.
“Sorry,” Catherine whispers. She takes a deep breath and lowers her gaze to her lap. “We’re doing fine, Thomas. I mean, it’s not easy now that I’m unemployed again, cause well, I’m quite stressed and I’ve had to travel quite a bit for some interviews, so… I don’t know…” she trails off. She looks at him warily, as if she were expecting to be told off. “Did I tell you about this job interview in the UK? It looks quite nice and…”
“I didn’t ask you about your job, Catherine,” Thomas interrupts her, this time with a serious look on his face.
“Well, yes, but you know…”
“I’m asking you whether you love him.”
“I…” Catherine casts him a pleading look. He has not changed at all, she thinks. He’s still that reckless young boy, who thinks of nothing or no one but his own happiness. “He does love me very much, Thomas. He’s a nice person, I…”
“But do you love him?”
Catherine sits there in silence and realises that in three years, she had always avoided to answer that simple question. Even to herself.