Set sometime when Cal and Gillian were both still married. Less angsty when you think about the fact that they're now both divorced ;-)
Disclaimer: Not mine etc
They've both thought it, over the years, although neither have spoken the words aloud. Perhaps because forcing thought to become solid words makes it all too real; perhaps because it's easy to forget if they bury it in a place where it can't be seen or heard, only felt; perhaps because they both know that, really, there's no point – what's done is done.
But they've both thought it, on more than one occasion. They've both allowed that little word to creep in when they know they shouldn't, and let it plant its roots and grow out of control.
If only we'd met before I got my girlfriend pregnant.
If only I'd known you before I knew him.
If only I hadn't got my girlfriend pregnant, then she wouldn't have become my wife.
If only we'd crossed paths before I said I do to him.
If only the timing hadn't been wrong.
If, if, if.
He doesn't remember the day he bought a cup of tea from a little coffee house called The Coffee Bean. It was a non-descript Tuesday, a little overcast, and he was wearing a black coat he'd bought only the week before.
He doesn't remember stepping inside the door, queuing behind a woman and her screaming toddler, handing over his money and taking the hot drink. He doesn't remember sitting in the window, watching people pass by, idly casting his eyes to the newspaper that lay in front of him whenever the view outside got dull.
He doesn't remember finishing his coffee, checking his watch, putting his coat back on and heading out the door.
And he has no way of knowing that, two minutes after he left, a woman came in, desperate for something to warm her up after a long walk in the cold.
She doesn't remember ordering her cappuccino, contemplating whether to have a blueberry muffin or chocolate chip, making her selection and paying the smiling cashier. She doesn't remember taking her cup and her muffin to a seat by the window, so she could sit and people watch.
She doesn't remember that there was a newspaper in front of her that she flicked through a couple of times while she sipped her coffee. She doesn't remember watching a few drops of rain start to fall, and wishing she'd brought her umbrella. She doesn't remember looking at her watch, realising she'd better hurry, and gathering her coat and bag to leave.
They've both thought it, over the years, even if they've never spoken the words aloud. If only we'd met each other before. They would never know just how close they had come.