by Lillian Csernica on May 30, 2018
Today’s fortune says:
Keep your feet on the ground
though friends flatter you.
A LEAF ON THE WIND
The night breeze grew stronger, blowing Kathleen’s hair back and clearing her head. She found herself halfway to that weird heat shimmer. She slowed. Leaf moved on, taking three more strides with those long legs before he looked back.
“Yeah, sorry. I just remembered my New Year’s Resolution. I don’t make life-changing decisions when I’ve been drinking.”
“You are nowhere near the legal limit for alcohol in your bloodstream. The food you consumed and the amount of time that has passed are both providing assistance.”
“That’s another problem.” Kathleen backed up two steps and crossed her legs. Why had she walked so far from the car? Stupid stupid stupid. “I need a bathroom.”
“People who camp in this area observe the custom of digging a hole in the ground.”
“Well! Too bad I left my shovel at home.” Like she had any intention of squatting with a total stranger nearby. “Wait a minute. How do you know that?”
“How long have you been watching this area?”
For the first time that Hollywood-handsome face looked shy, uncertain. “It was a routine sweep. Then, one night, I saw you. Sitting on your blanket, drinking something hot, eating chocolate cookies and looking at the stars.”
“When was this?”
“Two months ago. It’s so dull, watching the readouts. The lower life forms go about their eating and mating and territorial battles. And the occasional humans wander through.”
“Like me. All by myself, watching for shooting stars.”
“I–” Leaf held out his hand. “I shared that lonely vigil, that quiet time where the only thoughts you want to hear are your own.”
Kathleen heard real truth, real pain, in that lovely voice. She pulled herself together.
“It’s late. I’m exhausted. I need a bathroom, and I’m not leaving this planet without packing at least one bag.”
“May I walk you to your vehicle? A woman alone at this hour is easy prey.”
That turn of phrase very nearly made the bladder emergency a harsh truth. Kathleen took three quick steps backward and bent to snatch up one of the empty beer bottles. She also grabbed her purse, hiking it up onto her shoulder.
“That’s very thoughtful.” She closed that hand around her phone, ready to hit the emergency call option. “Why don’t you hang back a bit and keep me in sight? That way you can yell a warning if you see anybody lurking.”
It was time to get out of here. Time to go home, lock all the doors and windows, and shut down all her wifi devices. Time to have a real life lock down until she was sure these beer-fueled fantasies had passed out of her body. Maybe she’d wake up with nothing more than a headache and a funny story to tell.
“It would be best if you allow me to take you home. We can retrieve your car later.”
With that, Leaf stepped up to Kathleen, cupped her face in his hands, and kissed her. The sudden rush of sensations left her off balance for a second. Leaf breathed in, sucking the air out of Kathleen’s lungs, then breathed out, blowing his breath into her. A warm fog of drowsiness enveloped her. She sank into the peaceful tide of unconsciousness.