The dull blue light of the television softly illuminates the room around me. The lamps at either end of the couch are off, ensuring that the living room almost feels like a movie theater. The movie itself is unimportant, just a random crime thriller that I threw on. Of more importance are the soft cushions of the couch that I am trying my hardest to comfortably sink into. If I’m honest with myself, I’m quite distracted and not really paying attention to the movie.
The sound of a sniffle reaches my ears followed shortly by a soft ‘chuuu’ noise. My eyes quickly dart left to see her rubbing her nose. A small smile finds my lips; that is such a cute sound; and I quietly mutter “Bless you”. She responds with a small nod but doesn’t look my way.
She is the primary reason I’m not paying attention to movie. My eyes keep wandering back to her and it’s really not helping my focus. I know what she looks like. I know she’s a brunette and that her hair reaches half way down her back. I know she’s a good 6 inches shorter than me. I know she has rounded cheeks, a few small freckles and light brown eyes that are often hidden behind her glasses. I know pretty much everything about her that my eyes can tell me, and quite a bit more, but that doesn’t stop them from wandering back to her, hoping to soak in some new detail.
A tingling sensation starts to form just behind my right ear. I try to ignore it, but as with all itches, it just gets more and more incessant. I shift forward, leaning out of the depression in the couch that I’d been inhabiting for the past half hour, and remove my glasses. I carefully set them down on the coffee table and then let my fingers work away at the itch, leaning back into the cushions as they do. It takes me a few seconds to get comfortable again.
Several minutes pass and I feel the weight to my left shift ever so slightly. Again I glance to my left to see her drawing her legs in close, her chin to come to rest on her knees and her arms loosely encircling her legs. I can’t see her face right very well but I think she might have a small frown. I reach out and lightly poke her in the shoulder. She glances at me and her lips turn up just a little bit, “Thank you…” The words are quiet but I knew she was going to say them so I have no trouble making them out over the sound of an action scene.
I let out an internal sigh. Something is on her mind. I wish I knew what, then maybe I could say or do something to help, but I know she won’t confide. My attention drifts back to the movie.
The sounds of the movie reign for another minute before I let my eyes close and concentrate on relaxing back into that comfortable state I’d been in before I moved. This concentration lasts for only another minute or so before the cushions shift a little and weight rests itself on my shoulder.
My breath nearly catches in surprise and I have to fight to maintain composure. I crack open an eye and see that her body has shifted somewhat. She scooted a bit closer to me and is now leaning lightly against my left arm. Her face is passive as far as I can tell but I imagine that if the light was better I’d be able to see a blush creeping across her face. Not usually one for making displays of affection. Just this probably took her minutes of goading and pushing, not that I’m much better…
My head drifts down to rest atop hers. My neck ends up at an awkward angle, but I know the boost of confidence she’ll feel from the reciprocation is worth a little bit of discomfort.
The movie continues on and I internally revel at the closeness. It’s kind of hard to steal glances at her in this position, but the feeling of her hair against my cheek and the smell of her shampoo more than makes up for that. I can’t stop a smile from spreading across my face. The smile remains in place for the duration of the movie.
One hour and twenty-three minutes later, with credits rolling I reluctantly shift my weight away from her. Feeling me move, she does the same and allows me to stand.
“Any idea what time it is?” I venture.
She reaches down to her little purse wallet hybrid thing and retrieves her phone. “Almost 11:30.”
I let out a sigh. “Probably time to get you home then.”
“Probably,” she quietly responds, reaching under the table to grab her shoes as she speaks.
I quickly put my glasses back on and rush to grab my shoes, not bothering to untie the laces as I shove them on. I never bother to untie the laces. With shoes on I reach for my newsy cap and stop myself just before picking it up. If everything goes as I hope tonight, this will only get in the way. I leave it behind and meet her at the back door. “Ready?”
I grab my keys from the basket next the door and motion for her to step outside. I follow her out and close the door behind us locking it firmly.
Her house is only five blocks from here. An easy walk but never one that I like her making alone in the middle of the night. I always walk her home after spending time together.
It’s a bit chilly. Colder than I was anticipating. Should have brought a sweatshirt.
The walk is silent at first, only the sounds of our shoes hitting pavement to keep us company.
About half way there I notice her rubbing her arms. Cold must be getting to her too. I reach out and poke her shoulder. She looks up and over at me before reaching out and prodding me firmly in the shoulder. An improvement over last time. I let out smile and poke her again, a little bit lower on the arm. She responds in kind, a small smile finding her lips. We exchange several more blows and then I stop and wait for her arms to return to neutral at her sides. Reaching out one last time, my finger brushes against the back of her hand. I hear a short intake of breath from her before she responds in kind. Tentatively, I shift a bit closer to her and let a few fingers extend, settling in the palm of her hand. She moves a bit closer too and maneuvers her hand into mine, our fingers intertwining.
A few minutes pass as we each quietly appreciate the company of the other.
Arriving in front of her house we let our hands come apart and stand opposite each other. My arms come up and she leans into them, wrapping her arms around my waist as mine wrap around her shoulders. Her head is buried in shoulder but I can still make out a small sniff.
“No…” she mumbles. It sounds sad. My arms tighten around her just a bit more. She responds in kind.
“I’m going to miss you…”
“You know I’ll be available any time. You say the word and I’m there.”
We stand there in the cold, letting the contact sink in, not wanting to let go. After what feels like forever I work up the courage and I whisper, “Is it alright if I kiss you…?”
There’s a brief pause and for those few seconds I feel my chest tighten with anxiety and I pray I haven’t overstepped. My heart beat picks up and I hold my breath.
I back out of the hug just a little, hands coming to rest on her shoulders as I look her in the eyes. They’re a bit wet, just barely holding back a few tears. I feel a pressure build at the side of my eyes and fight to keep myself from tearing up too. My left hand traces up her neck to settle on her cheek, and I lean in as she does and our lips meet.
It’s a short experience. A gentle one. Almost awkward with the way our glasses press against each other.
We pull away a little awkwardly and I let a grin spread over my face, prompting the biggest smile I’ve seen from her all night.
Stepping back, I give a small wave. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight.” She turns her back to me and makes her way up the steps to her door, fiddles with a key for just a moment before opening the door, stepping inside and looking over her shoulder back at me.
In the light of the entry hall I can definitely see redness creep over her cheeks. I give her another wave. “Don’t worry, it was my first too.”
The blush deepens and she gives me a slightly miffed look before sticking out her tongue and closing the door on me.