inspired by the beautiful lyrics of Prince’s Open Book.

he sits facing her in the small restaurant booth, his knees touching hers – she does not mind. he is wondering why they are not seated on the same side of the booth as is custom. the last time they sat like this was the first time they went out on a dinner date – when they were still strangers. today, three children, and six years into their marriage she had called him and asked that they meet for dinner after work. he is tallkative. she is hyperacusistic. she takes furtive looks at him from time to time – but she is mainly staring at the obnoxious painting of the sunset on the wall behind him. strains of prince’s sweet baby is playing in the background. he is staring at her – silently. “i asked you a question.” she looks away from the painting to look at him. she smiles. he waits – again, she smiles. he picks up the menu. “let’s order.” she looks at the other diners in the room, and then straight at him. silently. he is reeling off the names of the different platters from the menu. no response. he looks at her, and realizes she has not said anything since they got to the restaurant. “did something happen at work?” she looks at him and laughs quietly. she looks at the other diners in the room, and then straight at him. silently. she picks up the menu, opens it and balances it on the table – both hands behind it. he opens the menu again and starts flipping through it – silently. his mind preoccupied by her silence. he puts the menu down and stares at her. she can hear the clinking cutlery and the laughter of the other diners. in their booth, it is twenty past the hour.

then –

“you said my heart’s like an open book. but there are lines you’ve never seen.” he laughs awkwardly. “you said that you could tell in a single look when something’s wrong, but you never looked in between the lines.” he sits up, elbows on the table. it’s summer suddenly. there’s something in the way she’s staring at him that’s new. eyes piercingly dry. “sometimes i wanted to keep you, sometimes i wanted your love, but i’ve awakened to the reality that sometimes isn’t enough.” he looks around to see if the other diners can hear her. he flattens her menu, takes her left hand in his hands and starts to rub the back of her hand – she lets him. he doesn’t notice her ring is missing. “our separate dreams have pulled us in separate ways. i see now we were so different from the very start.” he laughs awkwardly. he’s a sales rep, so he knows how to sell a good game – he also knows when a game has reached its business end. she stares at him – silently. eyes piercingly dry. the temperature rises. releasing her hand, he loosens his tie with his left hand. he can hear the clinking cutlery and the laughter of the other diners. he makes to say something, she raises her left hand – he notices the the ring is missing. his eyes narrow. “sometimes it felt so natural, sometimes it felt so right.” he reaches out to touch her hand, she withdraws it. “but now, your touch is a reminder like the thorns upon a rose, the beauty’s mine if i can stand the cut. no more. you’ll never be able to read this girl. so the open book is closing.”