"I'm already here."
"That's good. I'm on the cab now; give me fifteen minutes." He responded. "If you see a UX 8734 F5, that'll be me."
I told him to take care before he hung up. I put down my phone and looked to my left. I caught the sight of the waitress coming over with a steaming cup of coffee that I ordered.
She put it on my table and I gave a smile in return.
My eyes followed the trail of the curly smokes lazily rising from the cup. Trailing the chair beside me with my glove-covered fingers, I remember sitting in the same spot six years ago when I first met Peter. He's proven himself on our first date he's someone who's had a way with his words, and I must admit, that was my weakness a writer.
Ever since then, a lot of things have changed. We weren't the college sweethearts we once were. We started having dreams that differed from each other.
He worked at a university an hour away from where I was employed. He started out as a lecturer and I a copywriter. We pushed ourselves to the limit to get recognized, and all of our efforts paid off, perhaps all too well for us to ignore what we had as one.
None of us attempted to call it the end. It was a secure partnership. We were good friends. But suddenly, our conversations never involved thinking about getting married or having a family in the future.
I don't blame him. I don't blame myself either. No matter how much two people invest at the start of the relationship, no one can prepare them for the eventual downfall of it.
Were relationships that lasted this long supposed to feel so empty?
Perhaps we grew too much apart that our relationship perished in return.
I feel like I'm being unfair to him. I'd rather leave him than be confronted with questions whether I want to continue down this path with him or not. I have been patient enough to see how things will play out, and as it turns out, I could just be hurting him more than completing his life.
I ought to put an end this illusion today. Which is why having to meet him here on a Monday felt too ordinary for me. A special place to do something so sorrowful. Call me cruel, but that's how things should be.
Three hours have passed since I have come to terms with my thoughts. I bit my coffee-stained lips in annoyance. What in the world happened to Peter? Could he have guessed the agenda of our meeting?
I wouldn't realize it then, but I thought too much of hurting him that it didn't occur to me how he can also do it me and possibly more.
I heaved a sigh and looked out the window. I don't see any traffic jam on the road. It did start raining an hour ago, but it wasn't even heavy at all.
I felt stuck in the cafe. Time seemed immobile, and so were the people around me who seemed to be talking on and on. I tried calling Peter on the phone, but it just rang endlessly.
That's it! If he's just kidding with me, I'd write him a letter instead. I stomped like a kid upon leaving the cafe. Having to wait for so long under intense pressure, I wasn't having any of it.
It took me a few minutes before I found a cab and decided to head for home.
Inside, I was about to put on my headphones when driver suddenly apologized. "Sorry; you have to be standing there for a while, lass. I do know it's pouring out there."
I was puzzled, but I replied out of courtesy. "Thanks, it's okay. There doesn't seem to be a lot of cars here anyway."
"Of course!" He exclaimed. "They're pissing themselves off in a pile at the Berjil intersection."
Great. I must have encouraged him to talk. One more question and I'm going to politely ask him to shut the hell up. "Is there some kind of cabbie protest going on?" I asked.
"You bet there should be some, given the rising prices of fuel lately. But no. Some drunk truck driver caused all the pain in their damn asses."
I rolled my eyes. Maybe that's where Peter got stuck.
"Poor friend of mine, though. He'll never be able to drive again, not with crushed legs like that."
"Is he also a cab driver just like you?"
Hearing this, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. I can feel my lips tremble as I uttered, "Everyone else must have survived then."
The way the driver shook his head reminded me of a solemn doctor who had to announce the death of his patient.
I closed my eyes and clasped my hands together. "Please, do you know the plate number of your friend's cab?"
The driver must have found it odd that I kept on asking about his friend. "UX 8734 F5. Do you know him? Seems like you're genuinely interested."
I was no longer in control of my body which shook violently. Being suddenly silent after all those questions, he looked at me via the mirror and asked again, "Do you know him?"
"No," I said in between tears, which poured down without a warning. "Only the passenger."
"Holy..." I heard the driver curse under his breath. Without having to ask for it, he turned around and headed to where the accident had happened.
It wouldn't sink in me that Peter is gone until I see him.
When we arrived at the scene, the driver didn't even ask me to pay. I thanked him and got out of the car fast. The scene was pure chaos, with police and ambulance cars surrounding the area. I was all indifferent to this, though. I wanted to see Peter. Peter whom I was about to part ways with! Only it was him who bid farewell first.
An investigator attempted to stop me from approaching the scene, but I told him I'm the dead victim's girlfriend. She had this crestfallen look when she heard it and took me to a covered stretcher.
His girlfriend. I can't believe I can still call myself that despite everything I've thought about us. That would make things a lot simpler, though.
My hands were shaking as I pulled down the cover. It was definitely Peter, who looked like he has fallen into a deep slumber. No visible injuries, but he's gone. I put the cover back and walked away.
For a moment, I stood there, with exactly no idea what to do next. What they say is true: you never know the value of something until you've completely lost it.
The investigator came to where I was, holding something in her hands.
"I think these belong to you. This has been clearly ruled out as an accident, so I don't think this evidence still holds its relevance. Once again, I'm sorry." With that, she left.
It was an envelope with something bulky in it. Nothing was written on it, but I carefully opened it to find a small box and a short letter. It read:
Thank you for staying with me throughout these years.
I decided to write this a letter instead simply because I suck at giving speeches in public places (even though I teach), and I know you love letters more than anything else. I haven't had the smallest amount of confidence in me, and yet you were patient enough to put with up with me. You remain the most wonderful and important woman in my life. I believe we haven't talked much about the future, but here's to a start: a little something I can give in return for all your patience."
Opening a small box, I found an elegant diamond ring with both of our initials engraved on it before the phrase, "Patience is love grown eternally."