Nora and Mila

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When Joseph met Leonora again, 7 years after they had split, a strange sense of nostalgia drew him to keep in touch with her. He never expected that it would lead to a slow unraveling of everything he ever thought was finally settled in his life.

Chapter 2: Chapter 3 Desiderium


Desiderium: an ardent desire or longing; especially: a feeling of loss or grief for something lost.

"You'll never guess who I met today," Joseph said to his close friend and colleague Elena as they sat down at a table in the cafeteria, on their break together.

"Who?" Elena asked.

"Leonora, my ex-wife, remember her?" Joseph said.

Joseph had met Elena while he was studying in graduate school all those years ago. She had been two years ahead of him in the course and had served as a good mentor to him, helping him through his studies. They had both ended up working at the same hospital together and thus became even closer friends. And because she knew him from before, she knew about his marriage to Leonora.

"Oh? She's here in E City?" Elena asked. "How did you find out, anyway? I didn't think you still kept in contact with her."

"That's the thing, I bumped into her today, at a coffeeshop. Turns out she lives in this city now. And she even has a daughter! How times have changed," Joseph said thoughtfully.

"That's certainly interesting. When was the last time you even met her anyway?" Elena asked.

"I... actually haven't seen her since we split up," Joseph said, thinking back. "That's..." He continued, counting the years in his head, "almost 7 years now."

"Wow. That's a long time," Elena said, "Why haven't you spoken to her all this time? I remember the two of you used to be so close."

"I wanted to keep in touch, at first. But she refused and told me to just move on. And, after a while, I just dropped it. Plus, I never expected to see her again, after I moved to this city," Joseph explained.

"That's true. Are you planning to ever meet her again?" Elena asked.

"Yeah, when I have the time," Joseph answered. "Do you want to meet her too? I mean, you used to be friends with her too."

"Sure, if she's okay with it," Elena said.

"Yeah, I'll ask her and let you know!" Joseph agreed.

Later that night, after another usual day at work, Joseph came home to the usual -- a nice warm bath, followed by a delicious dinner made by his beautiful wife Annette.

As he relaxed on the couch, he thought back to what had happened that day -- and remembered his meeting with Leonora. Right, he was supposed to contact her again! After all, it's been seven years, and he wanted to catch back up with her.

He unlocked his phone, and scrolled through his contacts till he found her name. She was still saved in his phone as "Nora :3", from when she had changed it herself all those years ago.

He hesitated for a second, before pressing the 'message' button.

[texting mode]

[Me]: Hey, this is Joseph! It was nice meeting you again today

The message immediately displayed that it had been read by Leonora.

[Nora :3]: hi! it was nice to meet you too :)

[Me]: Are you free anytime soon? I'd love to catch up with you, it's been years since we last met

[Nora :3]: i'm free on the weekends!

[Me]: Is it ok if Elena comes along too?

[Nora :3]: elena?

[Me]: Elena from my grad school, remember her? She's my colleague now

[Nora :3]: oh, that Elena! yeah, of course it's ok! i've missed her too :)

[Me]: Well, I'll tell her and arrange a date? Then I'll update you on it :)

[Nora :3]: ok!

Joseph sighed, and thought back to the old days, when he and Leonora were still together. It had been complicated, their relationship. On paper, they were married, but it was all for his inheritance. In practice, they had been friends. But friendship wasn't exactly the right word for it either. They had helped each other through the darkest of days, stayed with each other through the loneliest of days, and their friendship came with... certain benefits. They had known everything about each other back then, and she was always the one person he felt the most comfortable with. They had been close, too close to ever be just friends, but there was never any romance either, so they could never quite put a label to what they were.

Subconsciously, he began to scroll upwards, back to the last time they had messaged each other, all those years ago.

7 years ago...

[Me]: Hey, how's life going for you?

[Nora :3]: look, i dont think we should talk anymore

[Me]: Why? Aren't we still friends

[Nora :3]: arent you seeing someone right now

[Me]: Yes, but what does that have to do with this?

[Nora :3]: isnt it weird to hang out with your ex, let alone an ex wife

[Me]: But plenty of people do it

[Nora :3]: i just think we should both move on

[Me]: Is that what you really want?

[Nora :3]: yeah, its easier this way

[Me]: Fine, then, let's not talk anymore.

To this day, he still wondered why she had been so stubborn in pushing him away. It had felt so strange, to go from close friends to almost strangers in mere days. He used to wonder back then if he had done something wrong.

And now... would they manage to go back to being friends again?

He turned off his phone, deciding he should not think so much about it, and placed it on the table in front of him, as Annette walked over to him, having done the dishes.

When she sat down next to him, he pulled her into a loving kiss.

"Penny for your thoughts, love?" Annette said, "You looked awfully deep in thought just now."

He didn't really know what to tell her. She didn't know about Leonora. Few people did. After all, he never really found the need to tell Annette.

What would he have even said? "Just so you know, I used to be married to a woman I don't even talk to anymore?"

He settled for a half truth. "I just met an old friend by chance today, and it got me thinking how much things have changed."

"That's true, I never really expected to be living here in E City, instead of back in our hometown," she said, "But I'm so much happier that we're here."

"So am I, darling," he said affectionately.

Chapter 2: Chapter 3 Desiderium