He leaned against the bus window, his breath visible on the cold glass. It was one of those early November twilights that pricks everyone with its cold but does not yet carry the threat of snow. Across the river, he could see the early darkness wrapping around and clinging to the buildings of the Manhattan skyline.
He sighed. The bus swung around a corner and came to a standstill. Startled, he realized that this was his stop. He knew he really should get off because he was running late already, but somehow he could not bring himself to do it. A moment passed and the bus pulled away.
Four more stops passed before he finally found himself slouching down the steps and onto the sidewalk, hands stuffed deeply into his coat pockets.
He found himself before a small and unfamiliar establishment. An orange neon sign garishly identified it as “THE NEPTUNE CAFÉ” and elaborated in smaller script below, “OPEN 24 HOURS BEST FOOD IN TOWN.”
He walked inside. He wasn’t hungry, but he needed to go somewhere to get his head together and this seemed as good a place as any. He slid into a corner booth and ordered a coffee.
It was somewhere in the middle of his fourth cup that he was finally able to fully admit to himself that it was over. He had tried as hard as he could to deny or distort it, but he really couldn’t get around what the recent rejection of all his invitations and then the sudden, hastily arranged dinner date tonight so she could “tell him something important” had to mean.
He glanced at his watch. It was over an hour now since the time they were supposed to meet. He knew she would have gone home by now, but he didn’t call her. He didn’t want to change her mind.