a fiction short by Scott Neumyer
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“You want to shoot some pool?” she asks as we walk past the beach, our arms brushing back and forth on the sides of our legs, the salty ocean breeze hanging over us like a thick fog. We’re coming up to the only bar in town. Her sister and brother-in-law have asked us to shoot a few racks before heading back to the house. I’m full of ice cream and not sure I can handle much more than a few minutes.
“I think I’m going to head back,” I tell her. “I’ve had it. I need to close my eyes for a few.” I grab her hand, bring it to my mouth, and kiss it quickly. Her fingers are sticky from the ice cream and it reminds me of when I was younger and more willing to shoot a few racks. “You go ahead. I’ll see you back at the house later, okay?”
“Of course,” I say, although I’m not. “Have fun. Have one for me.”
“I’ll have a few,” she says as she pulls me in, kisses me, and runs off to catch up with Meg and Kevin.
I watch her and wonder if I’ve made the right decision, letting her go alone like that. I convince myself that I have and walk the half-mile to the house alone, stumble up the porch steps, and straight up the stairs to the room we’re sharing for the week.
I lie on the bed, snap my headphones onto my ears and close my eyes. One day left here and I’ve decided to listen to jazz while she shoots pool, sucks down colored drinks, and does God-knows what else. I’d say I’m depressed but I’d be lying. Scared is probably the better word.
It’s late when I hear the bedroom door click open. I rub the sleep from my eyes, roll over and, strain to see her in the darkness. She slips into a pajama top and sweatpants, throws her clothes in the corner, and crawls into bed, careful not to disturb me.
“It’s late,” I say. She’s startled to hear that I’m awake and quickly pulls the blankets up to her neck.
“I know,” she says. “I’m sorry. We lost track of time and just kept shooting.” She rolls her head on the pillow and looks straight into my face. “You’re not mad, are you?”
“No,” I tell her. “I’m just tired.”
She kisses me lightly on the forehead and turns on her side away from me. I stare at her smooth shoulders and strong back until we’re both asleep.
The following afternoon we walk along the beach and sit on some rocks facing out into the ocean. They are smooth and clean but cold, not exactly made for sitting.
We talk about possibly living together when we get home, about maybe getting married.
“But not if you’re still at that job,” she says. “It’s slowly killing you.”
“I know,” I tell her and agree that I should leave but know I never will.
We sit on the rocks for a while and talk about the chances that we’ll be together forever, until she tells me that she’s cold. I say, “I know,” and we slip our sandals back on, walk up the beach to the house, pack our things, and drive home knowing more than we’d ever known before.
Scott Neumyer is a writer from New Jersey. He has written reviews and commentary for DVD Angle (www.dvdangle.com). His fiction has appeared in 3AM Magazine and is forthcoming in Snow Monkey. He is working on a collection of short stories.