This, Carla realised, was what was meant by ‘tea and sympathy’. Only, in this case, it was coffee and sympathy – well latte to be exact – and some comfort-eating chocolate cake.
“So it’s over this time?” Her cup, broad and deep, clicked back on its saucer. “Really? Truly?”
Emmy gave a sad smile. Over the last hour and the chocolate cake, she had burdened Carla’s soul with a gory, forensic dissection of the breakdown of her relationship. Cut by painful cut, from the first misconstrued comment to the final brutal insult.
“Oh it’s over. Dead. Buried. Jake knows it, I know it.”
“You’re sure? Last time – ”
“Last time I was still half in love.”
“Now I’m not.”
“So what about Chris?”
Emmy’s blue eyes blinked once, stating clearly that the name was not relevant in her love life and never would be. “I heard from Miranda the other day. Sienna is starting school. Isn’t that incredible? It only seems like last week the three of us were sitting in these very chairs discussing baby names.”
“Emmy – you can’t pretend forever.”
The blue eyes clouded. Emmy grabbed her coffee cup from its brightly coloured saucer and hid behind it. The words ‘I Love Cappuccino’ danced around the rim in bold, red letters.
“Chris won’t just go away,” Carla spoke to the cup.
Emmy lowered the coffee, her face tightly resentful.
“Chris is not involved with this.” Then, suddenly appealing: “Let’s not go there today, Carla hun, please.”
Not for the first time, Carla felt herself being torn between loyalties. Emmy’s baby-blue eyes, pleading, and Chris – dependable Chris – bleeding from a dozen wounds he had never known were being inflicted. Carla shook her head slowly, as the waters of the Rubicon flowed away beneath her feet.
“He’s your husband, not a meal ticket. You have to – ”
Instantly Emmy was by the door, the cup still in her hand.
“I don’t ‘have to’ anything! Don’t you understand? I don’t care!”
The coffee cup arced across the room heading for shattering impact and landed at the moment the door slammed. It bounced on the carpet, with a little spray of coffee and rolled, until it stopped on its handle by Carla’s feet, still safe and in one piece.
Carla bent to pick it up, the words facing her read: ‘I Love…’. For a moment she clutched it close, then she placed it with extra care on its own saucer, where it belonged.