The girl walked into the coffee shop where she went every morning. The fatigue showed in her eyes, the wrinkles on her face becoming more prominent as the years toiled their toll upon her once prominent skin.
She was beat down by the corporate job that never seemed to end. There was always more work to do, another time card to punch. A new boss would be nice at first, only to morph into the old ones, like every one she had seen before.
The glow from her skin, once the hallmark of her youth, was no more. Instead, bags showed under the eyes. Too many late nights, capped off by a bottle of whiskey to numb the pain from the day. Too many early mornings, stimulated by copious amounts of caffeine. None of it made sense to her. Isn’t this what they had told her to chase, her entire life? That hard work required sacrifice, but ultimately paid off in the form of happiness?
Across the coffee shop, sat a man.
The years, physically, were less telling on him. But his spirit was even more broken.
Once told that the path of college, career, and children was easy if he just worked hard. That it would be the foundation of his life goals. It was not to be, as all the girls he knew chased careers…and not children.
10 years ago he would have talked to that girl, with hope.
Now, they are just shadows passing each other on another day. Mere fragments of what they could have become, never coming to fruition because of what society molded them into.
She sighed and paid for her cup of coffee. She wished she could be 20 again, without a care in the world. She longed for a child and a man to come home to her, where she’d have a hot meal waiting and they would share in their day.
She longed for what she didn’t have, and slowly, what she was realizing she could never have.
Across the café, the man sighed and accepted his fate too.
In another life, this woman and this man may have had much more. They might have been perfect for each other. Instead, they’re merely left with the “what-ifs”.
And instead, they’ll never know.
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