CARO WALKED INTO the lobby of Jonathan’s apartment building and looked for his name on the intercom’s directory. The names of the building's residents were in alphabetical order and Jon’s name was at the top. She pushed a button on the intercom and was buzzed into the building.
Upstairs Jon had already opened the door and was waiting for her.
“Hi, I’m Jonathan.”
“Caro,” Caro said softly. They shook hands.
“Did you find the place OK?” Jon allowed Caro into the apartment.
“Yeah, it wasn’t that bad. I just followed your directions.”
“Good, glad to hear.”
“But this street . . . what exactly--?”
“It didn't show up on Google?”
“It’s because it’s a small road . . . a driveway, really. It’s not on Google’s radar, which I've always thought is pretty cool.”
“Ah,” Caro said.
“How long have you been in New York?”
“Your first time here?”
“Yeah, it’s really, really interesting.”
“You never went to New York with Chad?”
“No, we didn’t make it.”
“Got ya. You want something to drink?”
“No, I’m OK.”
“Are you sure?”
“OK, I’ll have . . . do you have orange juice?”
“Yup, sure do. No ice or anything, right?
Jon went into the kitchen. The apartment faced west and sunlight was pouring through a big window next to a door that led out onto a balcony. An onyx Buddha figure was on the windowsill and there were plants hanging from little hooks above the window. Caro sat down on the pullout leather chair that was next to the sofa.
“Here you go. . .” Jon gave Caro the glass of orange juice. Caro smiled a little smile but didn’t say thank you.
“So,” Jon said, “how did you guys meet?” He had taken a bottle of sparkling water for himself and, after he had taken a seat at the couch, began to pour the water into a glass.
“We met at a sports club. We were both doing aerobics. Chad was the only guy in the class. It was funny.”
“Oh, what, did come up to you after the class or something?”
“No, we actually ran into each other a few months after we first saw each other in that class.”
“Ah, OK, cool.”
Caro took a sip of her orange juice and nodded her head.
“So,” Jonathan said, “why did you want to speak with me exactly?”
Caro looked out the window and then back to Jonathan, then down. “I guess I just wanted to know something,” she said.
“Well, why did you leave him?”
“Why did I leave him?” Jonathan smiled and leaned forward on the couch. “I didn’t leave him. I just had a fight with the family, his family, and I guess he was collateral damage.
Caro looked confused.
“Oh, that’s right. You’re from Germany. Your English is good, so I thought . . . 'Collateral damage' means--wow that’s hard, actually. OK, imagine there's a war and one army accidentally kills some civilians while attacking the enemy. The dead civilians are, what the army that launched the attack might call, 'collateral damage.' The villagers weren’t the main target, but they unfortunately still paid the price."
Caro was nodding. “OK, I think I sort of get it.”
“How is he?” Jonathan asked.
“Chad? I don’t know. But I think good. From what I heard, good.”
Jonathan nodded. “I’m glad.”
The two just sat there for a few moments, not looking at each other. Outside there was the sound of bike wheels crunching over the gravel driveway leading to Jon's building. The sound of birds chirping could also be heard.
“Why’d you leave him?” Jonathan said.
Caro didn't say anything, then: "Don't know."
Jonathan laughed. “What? No . . . Come on, tell me; it's only fair.”
“Yeah . . . I guess . . . I had my reasons. You know how it goes.”
“I sure do. Do you want another drink? Some more orange juice or coffee or something?”
“No, I’m fine,” Caro said. “Do you have a train schedule? My phone just died.”
“Oh, you want to leave?”
“Yeah, I want to get going. I had some things planned.”
When Jon came back with the train schedule, Caro thanked him. She thanked him by smiling at him. “Can I take the schedule with me?” Caro asked.
“Absolutely, be my guest.”
OUTSIDE THE TEMPERATURE had dropped. Standing on the platform of the train station, Caro took out a scarf and wrapped it twice around her neck. She then zipped up her windbreaker and took her phone out. The screen was black. She put the phone away. She looked out at the water and the new apartment buildings built along it. She then turned her attention to a bench and a metal beam that was next to it. She looked to see if there was a socket affixed to the beam, but there wasn't. She would not be able to charge her phone.