For Old Time’s Sake


By David Larsen

     Sam Worth watched his wife, Cynthia, sashay briskly, almost theatrically—a heroine in a melodrama—through the maze of tables toward the booth in the farthest corner of the Happy Times Diner. Their booth. In their diner, the inexpensive eatery he’d courted Cynthia in, years ago. She was tastefully decked out in a summery, yellow dress, white, open-toed shoes, an outfit he’d never seen before. Something new for the occasion, he thought.

     Cynthia had wanted to meet in the lawyer’s office. But Sam insisted on their old haunt. Just the two of them. For old time’s sake.

     Cynthia looked good. As good as ever, not more than three pounds—five tops—heavier than the night they met at a party at the Lambda Chi house fifteen years earlier, before their abbreviated courtship, their fourteen-year marriage, his two years of graduate school, their two children. Before his dalliance with Ashton. 

     “I’m in a hurry,” said Cynthia. She opened a manilla folder with a small stack of important-looking papers inside. She removed them hurriedly and pushed them toward him without looking up. “The sooner I get these back to the lawyer, the sooner this will be over.”

     “I ordered you a cherry coke,” said Sam, “and an order of those onion rings you used to love.”

     She looked at him, sighed, then pointed with her finger at a line on the first page. Her signature was already on the line above.

     Ten minutes later, six pages signed, Sam watched his wife, soon to be his ex-wife, slalom through the crowded room, every table occupied by carefree young people, yucking it up, participating in a ritual older than history itself, an exercise the two of them had engaged in, not all that long ago. She left every bit as confidently as she had arrived.

     He put an onion ring, now cold and soggy, into his mouth. Why should they go to waste? He took a sip of her untouched cherry coke. His own drink, a lemonade, suddenly tasted sour.

     Today, he thought, a crowded, off-campus diner. Next week, Cancun, with Ashton. 

                                                                     *   *  *

David Larsen is a writer and musician who lives in El Paso, Texas. Over the past two years his stories have been published in more than twenty literary journals and magazines including Oakwood, El Portal, Floyd County Moonshine, Canyon Voices, The Raven Review and Change Seven.


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