The publicly secret goodbye

Over a low table, the accoutrements of a coffee ritual scattered hither and thither, they exchanged looks with penetrating yet gentle intent. He, a thin, long face, with thinning, long hair; she, olive-skinned, glossy, made up but dressed down. The train arrival announcements a far-off melody, faint, bouncing singingly, with the staccato intonation of a replica voice. They gazed at one another deeply, finger tips touching in a prayer-like arc. He glanced away, eyes fixed into the distance but unfocused. His thoughts remained at the table, whilst other tables were cleared. Her look; a faint smile spoke happiness. But his eyes betrayed something: love unrequited? Or sadness at their parting?   His workbag, bulging, half closed and scuffed, showed the excuses he had made to his boss: he will be in later; he will be back for the afternoon meeting. Yet his behaviour said otherwise. No rush; considered movements; quick to think, slow to talk. Then their eyes welled up as she rose to leave. I looked away, momentarily lost in their unfolding story; abashed; ashamed to be observing such an intimate moment in such a public place.

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