“This way.” He slipped his too warm hand into hers. Her fingers didn’t fit against his right. He pulled her away from the park map and up the pavement walk.
Strung bulbs lit the path and cast shadows into the trees. She loosed her hand to point at a dark feathered shape as it winged above them. “An owl.” She guessed and dug her hands into the safety of her jacket pockets. He agreed, it was probably an owl.
They paused at a break in the trees to see a sliver of the wind chopped water. The lake stretched into the distance, through she could catch the twinkle of lights on the other shore. She set her elbows on the wooden beams fencing the path. Looking through the border of silhouetted branches, she couldn’t see him hovering.
But she could feel him when he set his forearms next to hers and leaned into her shoulder. The heat radiating through her jacket burned in the night chill.He pushed himself into the corners of her view. “This was a good idea, though I’m glad the others cancelled.”
Her mouth moved into a smile, no teeth. She loved this place and its deep little patches of wildness just off the broken asphalt. She loved it enough that she’d stayed the course for the company of a friend. Under the wind’s drone, inside her skull, she murmured that this was not a good idea, she’d made a mistake.
She straightened away, welcoming the cold air as it rushed between them.
He took the invitation to wrap his arm around her and keep them walking. She bore the yoke of his appendage with eyes locked forward.
The fork in the path offered an escape and she took it. There were homes to get to, back to another whose arms did not weigh awkwardly on her shoulders. Their cars waited in the empty parking lot and she hurried towards hers, but not before the embrace.
It could have been an innocent gesture before this night. But now, arms around her, she could only see it for the betrayal it was. He brushed his lips over the top of her head before she was able to pull away. She held herself a step beyond his reach before risking saying goodnight.
They parted then, and she closed herself in her car and mourned the loss of a friend.
This week’s Legal Theft was started by More than 1/2 Mad, and I was charged to steal a map, an owl, and a betrayal. Which I did, as I am an obedient thief.