Dog Days

“Because,” Amy dumped the packet of sugar into her coffee, aggressively stirring the granules in figure eights until they dissolved, “relationships are terrifying.”

“I hate to tell you,” Austin nudged the creamer towards her, watching as she constructed her drink with surprising artistry, “that is not a novel revelation.”

“I know, which makes it even crazier!” To say her exasperation was apparent was an understatement — Austin was certain she’d been a theater kid in another life, “You give so much of yourself to someone, something, with absolutely no guarantee that it will work out… with the possibility that it might all collapse around you at any given moment.”

He took a sip of his too-hot coffee, grimacing as he burned his tongue. “That’s a bit melodramatic.”

“Hey.” She waved around her stir stick dangerously, which he did his best to swat away.

“Get that thing away from me.”

“You of all people know I get all frenzied when I start thinking about this. It’s like my emotions are one of those Rorschach tests,” she was still waving the stick, more wildly now — he’d given up, “Just a bunch of ink splattered around with no clear meaning.” She sighed, setting the stick down to rest, “I thought I’d know more by this point in life.

He offered a wry smile, subtly moving the stick away from her. “Tell me about it. Our futures are looking bleak.” He motioned to the window, “Speaking of, I can’t deal with this weather much longer. So much for getting older and wiser. I’m just getting paler. We should move somewhere sunny.”

“Mmm,” she offered an affirmative nod, “Arizona sunny? Or Cabo sunny?”

“The south of France.”

“Ibiza.” A new voice threw that one into the mix. Leah was hovering over them, cradling a drink she’d just retrieved from the bar.

“Cheers,” Amy held up her coffee mug — still lid-less, the liquid sloshing dangerously near the brim, “to our inevitably fruitless attempts to find meaningful and lasting romance.” The gleam in her eyes betrayed her deadpan expression.

“I’ll drink to that,” Austin added, “To our search for love. May we continue to search in vain.”

Amy continued, “To the folly of man.”

“To the human condition.”

“To -”

Leah piped up again, “Seriously, you guys. I can only take so much of this faux-pretentious B.S.”

She plopped down in a seat next to them, necklaces jingling, “Or maybe it’s real, in which case I’m officially banning you both from every coffee shop in this city that isn’t a Starbucks or Peet’s. You need a hipster intervention. A hipster-vention.”

Amy rubbed her temples. “Never say that again.”

“I won’t so long as you stop referencing the folly of man.”

“Speaking of,” Austin nodded towards the door, the entryway bell chiming ominously. Amy and Leah stared at the all-too-familiar face sauntering in. Austin stared at his coffee instead.

Death grip on her coffee, Amy’s wide eyed gazed was fixed on the man ordering at the counter, his stupidly too-perfect hair perfectly coiffed.

“Amy,” Austin eventually found his voice. “Amy.”

Her ears were ringing.

Amy.” Her eyes shot over to him, a deer in headlights. “It’s ok.”

“We should go.”

“Really,” he grabbed her hand, “I’m fine.” He offered a somewhat convincing smile.

Leah was grimacing, her face scrunched as if the milk in her latte had soured. “My drink is pretty hot. Want me to throw it at him?”

“Good lord,” Austin almost laughed until he realized she was serious.

“Just a little bit. To keep him on his toes.” He supposed Leah did have his back, in a twisted, anarchist kind of way.

“Guys, let’s just enjoy our coffee. I’m not letting him ruin our latte date. I think you’re both more freaked out than I am.”

Amy’s initial shock wave had subsided. “Remind me again why the three of us can’t all just live happily ever again together?”

“We could,” he shrugged, “Throw convention to the wind, buy a condo and a bunch of dogs, cohabitate as best friends while we set each other up on dates.”

“Sounds pretty perfect,” Leah sipped her drink — eyes still shooting daggers whenever she glanced in the direction of the cashier, “Are you still looking for a new place? And I hate to ask… but” she offered her most sympathetic expression — which wasn’t saying much for Leah, “…who gets your dog?”

His own latte now tasted sour as he remembered those particular details of the breakup. The emotional crap he could handle. He could be civil. The dog though, that might mean war.

“We haven’t discussed it. But, me.”