Krista slowed down when she came to a man on the street. He was in a red and blue checkered shirt and his hair needed a trim. He was standing by the lamp post and tears welled up in his eyes. The man bowed his head when Krista approached him, but she knew tears continued to form and rolled onto his cheeks.

“Hey man, are you okay?” Krista asked when he looked up. “Can I help you?”

“Nobody can help me,” he sobbed. “Thanks anyway.”

“What’s your name?” Krista pushed on.

The man wiped away his tears with the back of his hand, making himself look presentable. His eyes and nose were red and swollen from crying too much. “I’m Andrew.”

“Hi Andrew. I’m Krista,” Krista extended her hand and Andrew took it. “What’s going on here?”

“This is embarrassing,” Andrew stated with a shaky voice. “I bet you’ve never seen a grown man cry, in public nonetheless.”

Krista shook her head, “I’ll buy you coffee or whatever you drink at the coffee shop two doors away. If you want, you can tell me what’s going on?”

“It’s okay. I’ll be fine.”

“Please, I insist. I can use a cup of coffee and I don’t mind the company,” Krista persuaded him.

Ten minutes later, they were sitting by the window with their cup of hot coffee in front of them. Andrew had stopped crying and tears were long gone. Krista waited for him to speak but he remained silent. He stared into space most of the time, and he looked tired. Crying too much can cause exhaustion, Krista experienced that first hand with her first break up.

“Andrew, what do you do in life?” Krista tried to break the ice.

“I worked in a packing company,” Andrew finally spoke. “What about you?”

“I work with children,” Krista didn’t want to give out too much information.

“You are a good person, Krista but I…” Andrew stopped to take a few sips of his coffee.

“What?”

“I’ve lost a loved one,” Andrew went straight to the point even without Krista asking.

“My condolences to you. It’s understandable to be sad after losing a family, friend and even pets.”

“No, she didn’t die. We broke up earlier today. I really thought she was the one, cliché as it sounds. I bought a ring and was going to propose later tonight,” Andrew pulled out a red box and opened it for Krista to see. “Everyone knows and now, I have no idea how to tell them that she said no.”

“How long have you been together?” Krista asked admiring the diamond ring.

“Five years, more or less,” Andrew answered. “I never thought it was possible to feel the way I feel now. I feel so useless. I am thrown away like garbage. Nobody has treated me this way until today. I should have known that she doesn’t love me when she started making excuses. I’m still unsure if those excuses were real or lies.”

“It’s no longer important is it?” Krista asked.

“I guess not,” Andrew let his head hung low. “We planned to get married, have children and grow old together but I don’t know what went wrong. These plans turned out to be just words. Maybe it is my fault.”

Andrew looked up to find Krista listening attentively, as if it was her problem. Oddly, Andrew felt better after sharing his woes with a stranger. It was as if it was therapeutic. Only then he realised how brown Krista’s eyes were and how beautiful her blue dress was. She looked like she was going somewhere with somebody, but cancelled because of him.

“I’m sorry to take up your time,” Andrew managed to say. “Were you going somewhere before you saw me?”

“I was, but my friend cancelled the last minute,” Krista answered. “If you don’t mind me asking, why did she break up with you?”

“She doesn’t love me anymore. She wanted another man who she had been seeing for the past months,” Andrew answered. “I’ve been used and I didn’t even know. I loved her with all my heart, but now my heart is shattered into bits and pieces.”

“Time will heal all hearts,” Krista quoted from an Instagram post she read few days ago. “It will get easier, I promise. There will be a day when she won’t matter anymore and the hurt has no more effect on you.”

“How do you know?”

“Experience,” Krista answered. “Broken hearts happened to me too, so I can promise you that in weeks or maybe months to come, you’ll be happy maybe even happier than you were.”

“So did you pour out your heart to a stranger or cried in public?”

“No, but I burnt all his things. That helps too,” Krista smiled.

“Thank you for caring.”

Andrew and Krista became friends after that night. Krista was recently transferred to the city, so Andrew hung out with her when he had free time. Little did they know that as time went by, they started falling for each other. The next time they went back to that coffee shop, they were no longer strangers.

Carina Lim bears different messages through her fiction. These messages could be useful in life. She can be contacted at mermaidgal03@yahoo.com