The Look

Fiction

She was staring at him.
She knew she was staring, but at the moment no one noticed, so it was ok.
He still looked really, really good. Not happy, of course. Not like he did when they were together, but good. Really good.
She watched carefully as he sat reading, his lips pushed to one side of his face as he concentrated, the same look he gave years before. Only then she had teased him about it. Only back then she could lean over and give his lips a kiss before resuming her own work. Now she just remembered, not knowing whether to smile or cry as she watched from across the room.

He paused, taking a break from his reading. She quickly glanced away, then glanced back, as if the meeting of their eyes was accidental. She forced herself to respond with a smile, as if her heart didn’t just ache at the eye contact. He responded with a face she remembered well, his smile spreading slowly from cheek to cheek. That was one of her favorites. She waited to see if he would do anything else.

He began to open his mouth and then suddenly looked down at his lap. She watched as he reached down into his pocket and pulled out his phone. She saw his face turn much more somber as he stood up and walked past her.
“Hey babe” she heard him say as he moved out of earshot. She knew she should go back to her work but couldn’t. Instead she just looked at him as he began to talk on his phone.

To the casual observer he looked fine, but she knew differently. His face was firm and his demeanor tense, tell-tale signs he was frustrated.  She knew if she went over and wrapped her arms around him she would feel his heart racing.

As she continued to stare, his words became fewer and fewer, and with it his countenance fell. His head began to bow as he ran his hands over it slowly. This wasn’t frustration anymore, it was defeat. She felt her heart become overwhelmed with anger as he silently nodded, his face looking suddenly tired. Her feelings grew as she began to imagine the words that caused this change. Although she didn’t know exactly what they were, she knew they weren’t words he needed to hear. They certainly weren’t words that he deserved. He was a good man. He didn’t deserve to be treated like a child.

She realized too late that he was off the phone and staring at her, her face twisted and angry. She smiled nervously, hoping that her thoughts weren’t obvious. Instead of saying anything, he simply looked back at her with a muted smile and wistful, longing eyes. She had never seen this look before.

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