Nooner

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For this month’s Blogging for Books choose which genre of fiction best represents your life – whether it be literary, mystery, romance, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, etc. – and write a fictionalized account of some incident in your life based in that genre.

It was when they reached Needles that they realized there was no going back, that this wasn’t just a weekend excursion. They stopped at the local Dairy Queen at ten in the morning, to fill gas, to make sure they had water, to let the dogs do their business, to get an ice cream. She was wearing a peach tank top over a sage green one, and khaki shorts, and she stood in the slight shade made from the awning, licking her cone.

The summer heat, even that early in the morning, made the ice cream melt faster than she could eat it, and he watched her, standing there, her hair pulled back in a loose ponytail, then wrapped into a bun and pinned at her neck – she’d forgotten that all her hair sticks were packed, he recalled, and had used an unsharpened pencil snagged from the hotel. He watched as the ice cream melted, and a drop landed on the suntanned skin of her breast, just above the edge of her shirt.

“Did you get napkins?”she asked, as she lifted a finger to wipe away the spill. She dropped it as quickly. He smiled slightly. She never liked her hands to feel sticky, he knew.

“I’ll take care of it.” He waved a napkin at her, and stepped closer, but he didn’t use it. Instead, he ducked his head, and licked the melted ice cream away. Her skin was hot and a little tangy from sweat, and combined with the cool sweetness of the ice cream, it was enough to make him shudder.

“Heyy!” She giggled, and pushed him away. “We’re on a public sidewalk!”

“It’s ten AM, and there’s no one out. It’s too hot.” He kissed her cheek, oblivious to the melting ice cream that was splattering near them on the sidewalk. “You’re hot,” he whispered, not referring to temperature. “I love you.”

She tossed the remainder of the ice cream cone into the nearby trash bin, and laughed softly, as he claimed her sticky fingers with his mouth. “What’s got into you?” she asked.

“You. Us. This.” He kissed her mouth, softly, then more urgently, satisfied only when her answering kisses met his in intensity. “It’s a new life, love. A new start. Shouldn’t we start it right?” He paused, adding, “There’s a hotel across the street.”

She didn’t answer, not in words, but she kissed him, and squeezed his hand. “We’re not on a schedule,” she reminded, speaking the words for herself as well as for him. “We could spare a day.”

* * *

The hotel was a brand new Best Western, and the woman behind the counter was perky in the way that only brand new employees were. “Welcome to Needles.”

The woman with the pencil in her hair smiled, “My husband’s in the car. We drove from the bay area, yesterday, and I know it’s early for check-in, but we’d like a room. We have dogs.”

“It’s no problem,” the hotel-woman answered. “We’re pretty empty. Where you headed?”

“Texas. We’re moving there. My husband got transferred.”

“Aw, you’re gonna miss California.”

“Maybe…but this feels right.”

* * *

They brought their things, and their dogs, to the hotel room, using only minimal speech. The dogs curled up on one bed, tired from the heat, and confused by the series of new places.

They each took a moment to collect themselves, and then they came together, kissing again, touching each other with slow caresses, finding their rhythm quickly, in the way that only couples who’ve been together for years really can.

And then they slept, waking at dusk. She ordered delivery pizza while he walked the dogs. It arrived with two complimentary beers, and even though he didn’t drink, she cracked hers open, and sipped the cold foamy liquid.

They laughed at silly things while they ate. He teased her about sleeping through most of the journey. She said she wasn’t sleeping, that she was counting the cars on the trains they kept passing. She told him her childhood fantasies had included riding the rails like a hobo from a story.

“You don’t like to rough it,” he reminded her.

“It’s why I never tried it,” she confessed, laughing.

* * *
Later, after they’d made love a second time, she sat up in bed, awakened by the combination of moonlight and the buzzing of the traffic signal outside. She looked at her sleeping husband. She reached down and scratched behind the ears of one dog, then the other, and then she got up, and went to sit in the chair by the air conditioner.

He woke briefly, saw her sitting there, nude, in the moonlight. “Bad dream?” he asked.

“No.” She gave him a soft smile, knowing he’d catch the gesture even if he didn’t really see it. “Just too many thoughts.”

“Regrets?” he asked.

“Nope,” and she smiled again, and crossed the room to return to bed, to nestle against his shoulder. “Possibilities.”

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Nooner by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.