Friday, July 17, 2015

Free Fiction: Evening Walk

The night was exceptionally quiet and calm as they walked through the neighborhood. Oscar’s work had run late, so dinner preparation began late, and then they’d lingered over their empty plates, talking. Now the dishes soaked in the sink, not even washed, as the sun sunk into the horizon, and they’d promised to return to finish clean-up. But first, they’d wanted a chance to walk a route around their neighborhood on a rare summer day with low humidity and the last golden splash of sunlight.

The air washed warm across Phillip’s arms as they meandered from one block to the next and even the mosquitoes seemed to be placated for the evening. Only a few brownish beetles buzzed through the night, occasionally clutching at the fabric of Phillip’s shirt. Oscar noticed and brushed them away, and the beetles opened their wings and vanished into the darkening evening.

A few other people were out, jogging intently or slowly following their dogs as favorite sniffing spots were heavily investigated. Warm lights illuminated a few windows in the houses they passed. A baby cried in one house and the outline of a man shifted in the recess. He must have picked up the child because the next cry came out in a jiggling up and down manner meant to protest being soothed. Some houses remained dark, and Phillip wondered if the residents weren’t home or if they’d gone to bed early. It was a gorgeous night to leave open the sash and allow fresh, cool air to stream in. Tonight’s sleep would be deep, rare, and heavenly.

They passed a house with a party out on the porch. The entire residence was lit up like Times Square, blaring brightness against the creeping gloom, with even the garage wide open and exhibiting all the bikes, brooms, and odd assortment of gardening tools. Chairs had been stuffed onto the porch into every corner, and people moved into the house and back out, carrying wine in long stemmed glasses, and cans of soda. It definitely seemed like a family affair. Older people rocked contentedly in a group and children raced between them and the indoors, and then back out again, past adults who scolded them lovingly. The hubbub of their banter cascaded out into the yard, unintelligible except for an odd word or two by the time it reached the sidewalk where Phillip and Oscar glided by. It felt warm and happy and it both buoyed Phillip and dragged him down.

Oscar reached out and gripped Phillips's hand. In the scant light, he turned to search Phillip’s face. “We can have a party and invite all our friends,” he said.

“I’d like that,” Phillip replied. His family wasn’t really that small, but they were scattered far enough away that visiting was not a matter of popping over for a quick chat. He missed them keenly.

“Okay,” Oscar said. He kept holding Phillip’s hand, warm and solid, and they finished their walk hand in hand, the whole way back.

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