Coffee Without Cream

This is a true tale that happened when I was in my early 20’s – I knew I had to write as soon as I saw the prompt for Wicked Wednesday was coffee…

In my experience it’s usually a good idea to go into work between Christmas and the new year. Invariably the boss would let the staff leave early. That year was no exception. I arrived home while it was still light and sat down in the sitting room with a cup of coffee. Glancing up I marvelled at the amount of Christmas cards we had received – independently, and as a couple – that year. I had recently started a new job, and Seb a degree in the city, plus part-time work. This was probably why we had received more cards than normal. They were hanging around the room on a string, providing decoration.


My eyes fell on one in particular. While very similar to many others, something about it made my stomach flutter with nerves. Reaching up I tipped it from the string and it fell on the sofa. My cat pounced, disturbed from his slumber. Grabbing it I read the inscription inside.

Dear Seb. Have a Happy Christmas, Love Susan x.

I vaguely remembered he had mentioned someone of that name working at the local supermarket where he had a part-time job. Looking down at her cursive, unsophisticated, writing style I wondered why my stomach had lurched.

I jumped as the phone rang.


“Hi, am I talking to May?”

“Yes, who’s calling?”

“You don’t know me but your husband’s been sleeping with my wife, Susan. I thought you should know.”

He stated this, very articulately, as if he had practised the words many times before calling.

I sat down. Breathing heavily, I quietly replied,

“Thank you for telling me.”

I felt sick, my body began to shake as I picked up the card and read it again. How had this happened? I trusted Seb. We had 3 years of history together. He told me constantly that he loved me.

Why would he do such a thing? When and where had they been having their affair?

I never questioned for one moment if the man on the phone had fabricated events. My gut told me he was telling the truth. As soon as I heard his voice I knew what he was about to say.

Coffee with Brandy!

My mind began to race and I knew I couldn’t be alone. Running down to the neighbours’ house I blurted out what I knew. They looked at me, incredulous.

“Are you sure?” June queried.

I nodded as Rob handed me a coffee.

“I’ve put a nip of brandy in it,” he said, “for the shock.”

Clasping the warm mug I sipped the liquid staring at a spot in the distance. June put a sympathetic arm around me.

Shortly there was a knock at the door and Seb walked in. These neighbours were friends of ours. I looked at him and tears sprang from nowhere.

“I think you better take her home,” Rob stated.

Grabbing my handbag I rushed past him and back up the street to our house. He followed.

Once inside I accused him.

“Susan’s husband called…why would you do that to us?”

He didn’t deny anything.

“It meant nothing. I just wanted to be close to her. You are always so distant with me. I don’t love her, I love you. “

That’s the way you love me?” I screamed, picking up a nearby hardback book and flinging it at him. The cat fled past my feet as I continued to shout obscenities.

He stood there and took it all, offering no further defence. I felt exhausted. Grabbing my holdall I went upstairs, packed a few supplies and headed for the front door.

“P-p-please,” he stuttered. “Please, don’t leave, I don’t want her, I want you, its always been you,” he begged, sobbing.


He reached for my arm. I pushed him away and headed for my car. Standing in the middle of the road to block my departure Seb held his hands out. I turned on the engine and drove straight at him. Sidestepping out of the way he watched me drive past. Glancing in the rear-view mirror I saw him stood on the pavement, hands in his trouser pockets, like a lost child.

Tears streamed down my face – I sobbed for the whole journey to my friend’s house.

“Whatever has happened?”

Slightly trembling, yet all out of tears, I slowly relayed the chain of events to her, arms crossed, clutching at my elbows.

My mouth was dry. I licked my lips and looked up. She realised I was thirsty, dehydrated from the trauma.

“Oh you poor love, let me get you a coffee, I’ll put a drop of brandy in it for you, it should help with the shock.”

Coffee Wicked Wednesday
Coffee #301


Read another true tale from my younger days…

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17 thoughts on “Coffee Without Cream”

  1. I’ve had a similar experience, though I was the one making the call. It’s amazing how great a detective you can be when you are motivated.

    I rarely think about him these days, as it was many moons ago, but there are some days when it comes to the surface. Today, reading your story and the posts on Twitter, has brought the memories up quite strong.

    1. Thank you for taking time to comment Stella. I rarely thought about this either, but when the prompt coffee was in front of me, all of it came back into my memory, very vividly too …

  2. I was sad to read this. That’s a tough way to find out, but better to find out early on. I often wonder how life might have been if not for things like this happening, well not the same thing, but major changes. You are the person you are today because of it, and you told the story well. You certainly did the right thing, May.

  3. Oh… having that gut instinct confirmed is such a terrible feeling. Is this a British thing – to have brandied coffee in a stressful situation?

  4. May – sorry this happened to you, your pain is indeed evident, woven in and out of the words. The pointlessness of it is the smack in the face – he didn’t even want her, he just had a yearning for closeness which she provided at (no doubt) a weak moment.

    Funny how just looking at that card you knew it said/meant so much more that what was on the surface. Our instincts are always right but sometimes we shout them down, or don’t decipher them correctly. I shall be interested to read how you, my strong friend, dealt with part 2 of this situation. xx

    1. Urgh! That’s just the worst! My heart breaks for you. However, I have to say…I was riveted by your story and can’t wait to find out how it all was resolved.

  5. I can totally imagine your shock with this, as in my first marriage I realized my husband found the students (he was at university at the time) a lot more interesting than his pregnant wife… I do look forward to read how this ended.

    Rebel xox

  6. Touched on my nerves too both as recipient and guilty party; I can remember a very similar scenario – without the brandy, because I was pregnant.
    I can hear your pain and I’m sorry to hear it.

  7. I find a certain comfort in holding a cup of coffee, fortified or otherwise. But the kind of comfort tied to the beverage in this story… Well, let’s just say that I wouldn’t be surprised if – after this – you couldn’t stand the stuff.

  8. They drink a lot of brandy ’round your way! No wonder you almost ran him over.

    But seriously… a very raw story and I feel your pain, still, after all these years. You’ve triggered my own memories. Of nagging doubt and betrayal. It’s never pleasant. It still hurts.

    You’ll have to do a follow up please. Was this how it ended with Seb?

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