Norah and Yevgeny laugh and chat over coffee and heart-shaped waffles, their usual corner booth is decorated with red paper hearts, the sun is shining, and the jukebox is playing Marvin Gaye; it should be the perfect Valentine’s Day, but Norah senses something wrong — the blonde waitress is new, the park jogger in purple has just run past again, and the blind man from the subway is standing across the street.
Yevgeny finishes his waffles, pats his mouth with a napkin, and takes Norah’s hands, he tells her Moscow has authorised her defection, and promises they’ll go to South America someday; but his altered inflection, his tight grip, and the slight clench in his jaw confirms her cover is blown.
Yevgeny takes deliberate sips, finishes his coffee, grips Norah’s hands, and, as the waitress flips the door sign, starts to sing, I heard it through the grapevine and I’m just about to lose my mind, ‘honey, honey,’ he shakes his head, ‘we’re just pawns in this game, nothing matters in the end. But it still breaks my heart we must finish like this. I loved you’; time is running out — the blind man is crossing the street, the waitress is reaching for something in her apron — Norah tells him it was just her job, it was nothing personal; and as his fingers tremble and his left eye twitches, as sweat forms on his temples and his breath quickens, Norah tells Yevgeny she’s sorry it must end like this, it’ll be painful but quick, and she loved him too.
Thanks to Sonya for organising and coordinating these three line tales each week.