Short Fiction - 'Goodnight'
Side by side, they stumbled through the front yard, toward the house, climbing the stairs on unsteady feet as they approached the front door. It was dark – sometime after midnight, at a guess, and the nearby streetlight seemed to have died. Even this close, each seemed more of a vague dark shape to the other.
She stumbled on the last step, and he reached for her, catching and steadying her before she fell, though the sudden movement almost cost him his own balance, "y'alright..?", he mumbled, turning to face her, one arm resting against the small of her back, the other gripping her hand.
"M'alright...", she swayed unsteadily, leaning against him for a moment, "Just... a bit drunk, I suppose."
He laughed as he guided her away from the steps, reaching for the outer door and pulling it open – holding it open for her as she made her way to the heavy wood of the inner door, "you got the keys?"
"Yeah...", she muttered, frowning as she poked at the lock in the dark, "...ugh... can't see a damn thing."
"Here... let me try...", he moved up beside her, holding out one hand to take the keys.
She slapped at his hand, "I can do it!"
He backed off with a laugh, motioning her forward with an exaggerated gesture. Another moment passed, he could hear the scraping of metal against metal as she poked at the lock. "Stupid thing...."
"Hang on...", he reached into a pocket, "...I have...," he tugged and pulled, bringing out his phone, presenting it to her with a flourish, "...an idea!"
She turned to him, staring at him blankly as he gave a triumphant grin – pushing a button, any button, and bringing the phone to life. The little screen of his phone gave off a soft light, enough to see her by, though just barely. She returned his smile, "genius."
The door swung open easily, now – with the light of the phone to aid her, it only took her two tries to get the key into the lock. "Ha!", he grinned, slipping the phone back into his pocket as she reached into the house, flipping a switch just a bit inside which brought a sudden bright glare over their heads. He cringed slightly, the sudden light bringing tears to his eyes, forcing him to look away for a moment.
"Well...", she said, leaning back against the door frame, now, watching him, "...guess this is goodnight, then... I had fun."
He looked up at her – she was smiling as she watched him. "Yeah...", he returned her smile, "yeah... you know... I really want...", he moved toward her, coming to a stop, swaying on his feet a bit, "...I think I might be a bit drunk."
Her smile seemed to widen as she tilted her head back to look up at him, nodding in agreement, "just a bit."
"I really...", he allowed himself a pause, drawing in a soft breath, "...I really want to kiss you, now... like, right now... would that be alright..? Do you think..?"
She gave another nod, her voice soft as she spoke, "I think so."
And, he did. Touching her cheek, first, his cold fingers against her warm skin as he leaned down to her, her head tilted back as she rose to meet him – his movements slow and deliberate as his lips touched hers. He could feel her hand at the back of his head, her fingers running through his hair. And then, it was over – just a quick kiss, no need for anything more – he drew back from her slowly, almost reluctantly. He saw her open her eyes, she smiled up at him, turning a bit to press her cheek into the palm of his hand. "Well... goodnight, then...", he said, though he didn't move.
"Goodnight", she watched him with that same smile.
"Uh...", he stepped back from her, letting his hand drop back to his side, "...right... well... goodnight.
"Goodnight", still watching him with that same smile, "you sure you'll be alright getting home?"
"Oh... I'll be fine... don't worry"
He turned away from her, making his way unsteadily down the steps and out onto the lawn – pausing there as he looked first one way, then the other, then back again, "uh...."
"Oh... come back...", there was barely suppressed laughter in her voice, "you can sleep here, tonight."
He turned to her, looking up at her from the foot of the stairs with a surprised, though clearly pleased, smile. "On the couch...", she waved her finger at him, as though chastising him, though there was still laughter in her voice, and a smile curling her lips, "...I like you, an' all... but, I'm not sleeping with you, tonight."
He laughed, "alright... alright... think I'm too drunk to get anything working down there, anyway", still smiling up at her as he climbed the stairs, before managing to miss his footing on the last, stumbling forward – only able to catch himself at the last moment, one palm pressed flat against the cold cement as he pushed himself upright.
He swayed unsteadily for a moment at the top of the stairs, hands spread out at each side in an exaggerated display of regaining his balance. A moment later, he turned to face her, tugging his coat straight as he offered her a broad grin, giving two thumbs up like that guy in that old show that he couldn't quite remember at the moment.
She laughed, with him or at him, it didn't really matter. "Get inside, you idiot", shaking her head as she reached for him, gripping the front of his shirt as she pulled him into the house.
She pushed the door closed behind him.
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