Why Are Tears Salty By D.I. Jolly
Jeff walked into the restaurant and scanned the room looking for Martha. He wasn’t used to arriving late but an unexpected phone call had come in as he was leaving the house. Sitting alone at a table in the corner was a girl in her late 20s absently staring at the menu while sipping wine, and a thought dawned on him.
“She always smiles when she sees me, but she has no idea who I really am.”
Almost on cue Martha looked up to see the man standing in the doorway and smiled a smile the lit her face up, like a child on Christmas morning. Instantly a part of Jeff’s soul brightened while another part died. He took a deep breath and regained the run of himself, knowing what he had to do and hating himself for it. Smiling in reply he walked over to the table and kissed his girlfriend hello, and goodbye.
“Sorry I was late, work called as I was leaving.”
“Oh, no problem I haven’t been here that long.”
Martha reached out a hand expecting him to do the same. Although they had been going out for a few months they still held onto a few ‘cute first date’ tropes, as her friends referred to them. Jeff’s smile dipped a little, his muscles tightened under his shirt and he narrowed his eyes.
“Long enough to have finished your first glass of wine though.”
His words cut in the way he knew they would, and his self-loathing grew. It was an unfair comment and he knew it, but that was the point. No matter what happened, no matter how he felt or what he wanted, tonight Martha was going to break up with him. If he had to rip off her clothes in the middle of the restaurant and drag her outside by her hair. She had to hate him before the date was done.
“I mean It’s only 6 pm on a Tuesday why not have a tequila while you’re at it.”
A look of stunned surprise swept over Martha’s face masking the slight pain.
“What did you say?”
Jeff sighed and rolled his eyes annoyed,
“Typical, I swear to God you drink so much of that stuff I think it’s that salt that comes out when you inevitably end up crying around a toilet seat at parties.”
Martha’s face transformed from stunned to furious in an instant and Jeff had to take a moment to steal himself again. Her voice remained even but there was no mistaking how angry she was.
“How fucking dare you? And where is this coming from huh? How did you go from my sweet boyfriend this morning to this total judgmental fucking douche bag in the span of a day?”
Fortunately, and unfortunately for Jeff, he had prepared for this eventual line of questioning.
“I don’t know how did you go from my faithful girlfriend to making out with your ex in the span of a weekend?”
He knew this wasn’t exactly true, he knew that the ex had drunkenly come onto her at a party and that nothing had actually happened. He knew this because he’d hacked into her phone looking for evidence to support this fight and because he knew and trusted her. But still, he had a job to do. A cold shiver ran down his spine as he could see the subtle shifts in her posture telling him that he’d taken the upper hand, which wasn’t exactly a win for him. He needed her to never want to see him again.
“Just so typical you. Three drinks in and doesn’t matter what else happens as long as you’re having fun right. Was his cock as sweet as you remember?”
Another low blow, another irrational blast to bring her back to angry, and another gash in his own soul as the shards of his breaking heart fell through it. Furious tears began rolling down her face as she stared at the men she couldn’t believe was the same man she’d spent almost every day with for the past few months. Her mind began racing, trying to find evidence of this character in anything he’d done before, but she came up short. Jeff studied her face trying to see where her thoughts were going and as the silence persisted, he shrugged his shoulders.
He pushed the volume up a notch in the hope to lead the argument into a screaming match, hoping that if he could get her to start yelling she’d get carried away and it worked.
“Well, what? I’m not going to comment on how his cock tasted because nothing fucking happened! And fuck you for even thinking that of me!”
Suddenly what was left of her wine hit him in the face followed by an even louder burst of foul language and accusations.
“It’s like I don’t even know you, I can’t even, I’m going home you just better find somewhere else to stay until you can come to your senses.”
Jeff could feel the end of the argument coming, and without even standing or turning to look at her.
“And which home would that be? Because you’re not throwing wine in my face and thinking you’re going back to MY flat are you? I mean I know you’re not the brightest but you can’t be that dumb?”
The restaurant had turned quiet as the fight had gotten louder and the manager who was about to ask them to tone it down or leave stopped in his tracks and stepped back unconsciously. Slowly Jeff turned a smug look toward Martha and raised his eyebrows waiting for her reply. Martha’s angry tears turned into genuine tears that rolled freely down her face. As she stared at him, he suddenly looked like a total stranger and the idea that she had had sex with this man made her feel almost violently sick. Seeing his moment Jeff raised his hands questioningly and arrogantly, to prompt her to answer. Martha shuddered visibly and anger swept back over her.
“Go fucking die in a fire I never want to see you again.”
She grabbed her jacket off her chair, slapped him hard across the face and stormed out of the restaurant, leaving him to be stared at by a room full of strangers who equally hated him. He rubbed his cheek feeling the final shard of his heart shatter, dropped 20 dollars on the table and left without another word. He managed to contain himself until he was halfway down the street before a few tears rolled silently down his face. Then he reached into his pocket to pull out his phone.
“I wish you hadn’t made me do that.”
“It was necessary, people like us can’t have ties back to the real world. Can’t have people we love and who love us in return, it’s dangerous. Now come on, I’ll meet you at pick up point Delta and debrief you on the situation.”
“ETA 45 minutes.”
“Don’t worry, once you kill a few people you’ll start to feel better again. Or start to feel nothing again, and that’s probably even better.”
“Because no one else is willing to do what it takes to get a job like this done. If it’s any consolation I am truly sorry.”
Jeff sighed, snapped the phone in half and dropped it into the nearest bin before hailing a cab.