The Man Who Made Her Late for Work

David Meuel

Peet's UTC
Photo Credit: Mike McCracken

Was it him? Linda wondered as she rushed out of the Menlo Park Peet’s Coffee with her latte. Shit. Darryl was talking to another man on the street, and they were standing just a few feet away from her car. She needed to get to work, but she didn’t want to speak to him. And she knew that, if she went to her car, she would have to stop, smile, and try her best to be pleasant.

She went back inside the Peet’s, sipped her latte, checked messages on her iPhone, and kept looking to see if Darryl was still there. Five minutes went by. Then ten. It was just like him to make her late for work and not have a clue he was doing it.

At the twelve-minute mark, in the middle of a sip of her latte, she laughed. It wasn’t a big laugh, just a small smirk of recognition at the absurdity of the situation. She was being silly. It had been more than two years since she had talked to him. But the sight of him, standing there pompously spouting away, made her insides churn. How long had they been married? Seven, eight years? Thank goodness they didn’t have kids. What a nightmare custody would have been. Thank goodness they both could go their separate ways. That is, she smirked, until now.

At the fourteen-minute mark, Darryl and the other man shook hands, the other man got into his car, and Darryl walked away.


Linda gave herself a full two minutes before she ventured out.

Safely inside her car and on her way to work, she heard Beethoven’s Seventh beginning on the radio. That’s all she needed—Darryl’s favorite piece of music. At first, she was going to change the station, but she kept listening. Darryl always insisted that they stop talking when this was playing. That was, it seemed, the only time he ever stopped talking. But the music was beautiful, and, as she listened, she remembered other times when they heard it together on the radio, on CDs, and at concerts. It had been wonderful to feel that happy.

But that was then, she thought, when Darryl was the centerpiece of her life, her one and only. That was then. Again, she moved her hand over to change the station, and again she kept listening.


David Meuel has published more than 100 poems and numerous print and online articles on subjects ranging from theater to marketing communications. He is also the author of two poetry collections, Islands in the Sky and Realms of Gold. A lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, he currently lives and works in San Jose, California. Email: dmeuel[at]

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