They had agreed on two things: ordering the artisinal goat cheese platter as an appetizer and admitting deep fears to each other.

“Do we have to do this here?” Benni asked with a nervous glance at the restaurant’s lunchtime crowd.

Doug nodded, heaped some garlic and herb cheese onto a cracker, and said, “It’s now or never. I’ll go first. I’m afraid that everyone in the office can tell I don’t know what I’m doing.” He smiled, seeming relieved, and looked to Benni who hastily shoved a cracker into her mouth.

Instead Samantha declared, “I’m afraid I’ll never tell Doug I love him.”

A fork clattered to the floor. A clump of cheese fell from Doug’s lip. Samantha sank into her chair, busying herself with spreading fig and honey cheese onto a cracker.

Finally, Benni spoke. “I’m afraid . . . never mind.”

“You can tell us.” Doug offered encouragingly.

“I’m afraid of what you’ll think if I do.”

“That doesn’t count,” Samantha muttered.

Benni looked around the table. Doug smiled brightly. Samantha’s cheeks glowed red. Five expensive logs of cheese lay before them.

“Fine. Benni said with a sigh of surrender. “I’ll say it. I’m afraid I don’t actually like goat cheese.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

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