BY CORRIE ADAMS
Copyright is held by the author.
“THANKS for the ride,” she said, again. “I really appreciate it.”
“No worries,” he replied as he pulled into the parking lot of her apartment building. “I hate to see anyone stranded. Besides, it’s an absolutely miserable night, and you don’t even have an umbrella.”
She glanced out the window. The yellow-orange glow from the light posts that stood guard outside the building’s front door provided limited visibility in the dark and lonely landscape; it was late, and there was no one else about. The rain streamed steadily down the windows like a set of thick curtains, which were drawn against the world. He put the car in park and the wipers ceased to beat against the glass. Outside, the storm raged on and on, but inside the car, it was warm and dry and comfortably confining.
He shifted in his seat, turning to face her. Her breath caught in her throat and she silently cursed the centre console for coming between them. He said she was the perfect passenger, and then launched into a crazy story about the time he picked up a drunken hitchhiker on his way home from Ottawa during his last year at university.
She wanted to follow along with his words, but kept losing her hold on their meaning. Although she tried, she was simply unable to pay close attention to the tale. She blamed it on his hands —the left one, adorned with a wedding ring that did not match her own, and the right, which was now resting upon her thigh with a gentle pressure that was both delicious and completely unnerving, all at the same time. Her hair hung in wet curls on her shoulders; the windows were steaming up. She shivered.
Despite the combined distraction of his hands and her quickening pulse, she managed to laugh in all the right places. The face she knew so well from months of secret study provided everything that she needed to navigate the conversation.
She sensed the story was winding down. The spaces between his words were growing, and she was afraid that he might get lost within them. Slightly panicked, she leaned towards him, inviting whatever might come next.
His eyes met hers. The rain fell and fell. Anxiety and anticipation warred within her as he moved in the rest of the way, reaching for her and their first kiss. Just before his lips met hers, his voice grew urgent and she struggled to focus on his words.
“I had an accident,” he whispered.
She blinked, puzzled. What?
The hand on her leg no longer caressed — it was shaking her.
She opened her eyes.
“Mommy, I had an accident,” said the small, urine-scented boy at her bedside. His silhouette was framed against the window, the glow from the streetlights filtering in through rain-streaked glass.
She glanced at the man who lay snoring beside her, and as she slipped from the warm embrace of her blankets and her dreams, she sighed and then muttered under her breath:
“Couldn’t you have woken up your daddy?”