Although her girlfriend was about to break up with her, Nancy smiled over the table. As long as they could maintain this expression, everything would be fine.
“I really like what you’ve done with your hair tonight,” she said.
“Thanks, I like yours, too.”
The resulting silence prompted them both to take sips of wine. Nancy held hers in her mouth just a second longer before swallowing, as she saw a flash of disapproval cross the face in front of her when they reached for their glasses simultaneously. “I’ve been thinking about what you said.”
She watched the smile grow limp, and tried to hoist it back with her own. “I’ve been thinking,” she repeated, “and I want whatever you want.”
They had had the same boring conversation last night, and had yelled at each other, “I only want to make you happy. What do you want? I want you to be happy!” Nancy couldn’t remember anymore which part of the conversation had been hers. It existed between them and belonged to neither.
“And I want whatever you want,” she heard again, and it played back between them and around them, at every table in the restaurant. Every couple made the same faithful promise, and Nancy repeated it. Hers was the only voice that didn’t sound fake.