(We’re dropping into the middle here…)
He heard a light scratching at the door before it clicked open slowly, spilling a thin wedge of dim hall light into the room. Her head was a backlit silhouette. He was half expecting her, having heard the phone.
“You awake?” she whispered.
“Yeah, come in…” She seemed to hesitate before sliding sideways inside. He stayed on his back but pushed up onto his pillows. The sheet, twisted up in the chenille spread, covered him from the waist down.
“Don’t you wear anything to bed you brat?” She barked a husky laugh but didn’t look away from his chest and shoulders. The smell of Christmas followed her-he knew she had been into Mom’s gin.
“I’m wearing shorts”, he said.
She hovered over the bed as if stumped about why she was there. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it again, satisfied to breathe a moment. Was it stuffy in the room? There was a window to her left that looked out over the side yard. She probably should open it. But instead of moving, gulped another breath trying to settle the flapping in her chest. She slid closer to the bed.
She would be fine, went the thought, if she just touched him once. Just reach out and touch his shoulder, rub her hand over his thick, hairless chest, but she didn’t. For a moment she didn’t and almost convinced herself that she wouldn’t. But the moment dragged too long until her hand levitated forward of its own accord and feathered her fingers over his shoulder then across his chest just as she’d imagined, then withdrew. “I…I’m sorry. You’re…I’m sorry.”
“What’s up?” He asked rubbing his eyes but not really sleepy.
“That was your Mom on the phone. She said…she said the car’s broke down, but I think she’s loaded. And if she is your Dad is. So they won’t be coming home tonight.”
“Oh”, he said awakening to the heavy silence muffling him. “I’m fine…. If you want to leave I mean.”
“Uh…I’ve been into your Mom’s liquor. I probably shouldn’t drive….”
“But I should leave.”
They were speaking slowly-deliberately-as if translating their words from a different language.
Her legs were now pressing against the bed and he was looking straight up at her. “I’m afraid something’s going to happen. And I don’t want it to.”