We just need some space, she breathed, taking another sip of awful filter coffee out of her porcelain mug. I barely heard her over the conversation of the others in the diner, the clang of utensils on the griddle. I took a drag of my cigarette, dribbled ash onto the Formica. A wave of nausea built up inside of me that had little to do with the smoke.
I suppose I should have seen this coming. We’d drifted away from each other these past months. Her mother died, and I wasn’t there to comfort her between work and school. There was nothing to bring us back together, like we’d pushed off from each other in the vacuum of space.
The ding of the order bell brought me back down to earth. She was staring at me expectantly with those big brown eyes, waiting for me to say some thing to try and save us. Steam wafted over from the kitchen. It smelled of old grease and burnt potato. I gaped my mouth like a fish but no words came.
A ghost in a blue apron came over, tried to fill our cups. I shielded mine with my hand as if it was poison being poured. It sure tasted like it. I asked for the cheque instead. A slice of cold pie wasn’t going to help us now.
After she left I stared at the space where she sat only a moment ago, the cushion of the booth slowly re-inflating.
Written for the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge 2017. The theme was SPACE.