'So how has life been treating you? It's been so long.'

I gazed down at the mug in my hands, contemplating my next words. This was hardly the time to be honest. Stacey never really could handle bad news, even back then. All the way through high school she had been the star athlete, the popular girl. She probably wasn't used to any setbacks in life.

'It's been great really. Fantastic. Life is good. But I'm way more curious about you, Stacey!'

Life wasn't good. Life was awful, terrible and evil. And I didn't want to know about Stacey, I didn't like her back in high school and I sure as hell wouldn't start liking her now. I was appalled by how disgustingly childlike my thoughts were but I couldn't help it. Ten minutes ago I had been on my way to the grocery store to get beer and Cheetos but now I was stuck sipping on overpriced coffee, sitting across from the one person I could go a lifetime without ever seeing again and not feeling sad over it. Of all the luck in the world I just had to run into Stacey Waters.

'Oh you know. Things get a little hectic. Frank works a lot and the kids need to go to school, soccer.'

Stacey's smile faltered for just a second before she conjured it back. Radiant as ever, even with the obvious bags under her eyes.

'But it's amazing really. I love being a stay-at-home mom. The kids are so wonderful and Frank is such a good husband.'

I nodded and smiled. Ugh. I wish I could puke. The high school sweethearts were still together? Frank the beertank? For real? I tried to imagine the muscly quarterback as a prim and proper husband but I just couldn't manage without gagging. Stacey droned on and on about the soccer practice and the pie she made for the school fair, all the while smiling and giggling like she was a teenager again. This all could've fooled me if I didn't know any better. Stacey Waters, cute and brainy cheerleader was terribly and utterly unhappy. I briefly wondered if she had been unhappy way back then as well, but shook it off.

'So yeah. I'm a busy bee like that. But what about you, you haven't told me anything.'

'Oh, you know. Things are just going. I work as a manager at Home Depot now.'

Well, technically I wasn't the manager. And if I really went into depth about it, I wasn't working there anymore since yesterday, but that was mostly trivial information. It was not like it mattered if I lied. I was pretty damn sure Stacey was lying as well. We were mostly strangers anyway, this was what grown-ups did. Playing it cool, not bothering people they hardly knew with the fucked up shit in their lives. Stacey's phone started buzzing and I watched her as she started typing furiously.

'I'm so sorry, I got to go. Frank can't pick up the kids. Was great seeing you though!'

'Great seeing you too.'

I waved halfheartedly as Stacey rushed out of the cafe and then sighed. Thank god that was over. Playing pretend still sucked as much as it did back in kindergarten. Time for that beer.

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