Sweater Shrug: A Fictional Tale of Strength & Dignity

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“I was supposed to get married today, but I never thought I’d hear from you again. When you texted me yesterday and wanted to meet…why? After all this time?”

I was speechless. This really didn’t seem like the right time to tell him that I was merely moving to another country and didn’t exactly have a reason to keep his old sweater (nor did I find it particularly within my right to throw it away, but that's beside the point). When I contacted him yesterday, I was merely hoping this would be a brief exchange between two adults with a shared but presently irrelevant past. Those hopes escaped out the door when he walked into the coffee shop wearing a tux. I had to admit he looked good, exactly as I had imagined when I still believed he could be the marrying type.

“Say something, Mel. I’m starting to feel like a total idiot,” he said.

“Well,” I said, looking at the seat in front of me.

He took a seat, his knee bouncing immediately. I fought the urge to grasp his thigh the way I used to when his restless habits began to annoy me. He reached for my hand across the table, but I already had both hands firmly wrapped around my coffee cup so his hand just covered mine awkwardly.

“I’m glad I heard from you,” he said. “How long has it been? Three years? Four? I can’t even remember, it’s been so long."

I smiled, and removed my hands from under his as politely as I could. Then, I reached into my bag and took out his sweater. It was folded nicely. I had it dry cleaned. It was the least I could do after shoving it in the back of my closet for the past two years. I placed the sweater in front of him on the table.

“I’m moving to Paris. In three weeks,” I said. “I thought I should give this back.”

He stared at the sweater for a long time. Then, he leaned back in his seat and looked at me.

“Moving?” he said. I nodded.

“I would have mailed it to you, but I wasn’t sure of the address. Plus, this saves me the shipping costs. But if I had known…about the wedding…”

He shook his head and looked toward the bar. I felt bad, I did, but also relieved. I thought, that poor girl, and also, that could have been me. I stood up and placed a few dollars on the table, enough for the tea plus a little extra.

“I’m sorry about the wedding,” I said.

Then, I left.

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