I looked over at the clock and it was just past 12:30 in the morning. I was passing my dhikr beads between my index finger and thumb, silently repeating subhanallah to myself. I could hear the Marine One helicopters patrolling the Capitol Hill sky. I lifted up my blanket and stepped outside on the balcony. It was a cool summer night, the moon just as visible as the dome of the Capitol building from my balcony. As I grasped the railing in my hands I knew sleep was nowhere in my near future. I headed back inside as I survey my empty condo.

A piano wedged in the corner, boxes filled with books, trash bags full of clothes, and a refrigerator with two day old Chinese food. As I shuffled through the trash bags I plucked out a pair of sweatpants and a old college hoodie. Fully equipped with my headphones and a book from a box; I headed to my favorite diner. The nightlight life in downtown Bethesda was at its peak; Black’s Kitchen was packed. American Tap Room had the window to their bar open, the smell of alcohol and cigarette smoke filled the street. I pulled my hoodie over my head and turned up my ipod trying to make it my destination.

Walking into Tastee’s Diner I saw familiar faces, even at 1:30 in the morning. My favorite short order chef was standing behind the counter.

“The usual?” he asked while sliding me a fork and knife. I gave him a thumbs up and opened up my book. After ten minutes a plate of pancakes and a veggie omelet slide under my book which I held in my hands suspended in the air. I was reading about a young couple going through a rough patch but, inching towards a divorce. The story brought bad memories; made me think of the reason I moved, divorced, at twenty four.

Cutting my pancakes I continued to drench them in syrup and drown my omelet in ketchup. Maybe, I thought, the syrup and ketchup will drown the thoughts I had in my head. Her coming to me and telling me she wanted a divorce. Sharing a house for weeks but, living separate lives. Having divorce papers mailed to the house; full of boxes and bags. I snapped out of my emotional daze and realized my ipod died. As I removed my headphones the world around me seemed so hectic. I overheard a couple arguing and I heard a feminine voice say “you’re a liar.”

I  choked on my coffee and had to be handed a glass of water. That word caught me off guard because I remember when she called me a liar. She looked me in my eyes with tears streaming down her brown face.

“You’re a chronic liar”, she said while packing her bags. I stood in the doorway searching my soul for a response but, she was right. She brushed passed me headed to the kitchen and I followed her.

“I am going to my friends for the weekend. You can start packing this weekend” she said while grabbing her favorite coffee mug. I grabbed her from behind to try and squeeze good memories into her but, she pushed me away.

“So what I lied!” I yelled while following her back into the bedroom like a puppy. “I never lied about how you make me feel! About what you mean to me; it is all true.”

She snapped back and we locked eyes, “thats not the point!” she shouted. I was sure she woke the neighbors. “We shared a bed and you kept secrets.” I looked down at the floor. She was right.

I felt a hand on my shoulders which brought me back to reality.

“Would you like your check?”, the waitress asked.

I placed forty dollars on the counter and walked out, leaving the book and my ipod.

Published by Amir Webb