“You ready?” Aly asked from the doorway, hand already resting impatiently on the doorhandle.
“Yep,” I replied, even though I was still in the midst of zipping up my coat, whilst trying to juggle all the other bits and bobs in my hands. A frustrated noise escaped my throat as I failed to get the zip in place for the fourth time. I changed tactics, shoving my woollen hat and gloves between my knees, pressing my legs together tightly to hold them in place. My phone went down my bra, one pillow under each arm, and I tucked the rolled up picnic blanket between my chin and my chest, freeing my hands completely to tackle the problem. Unfortunately, I couldn’t actually see past the mound of cloth now resting on my boobs. I struggled with the coat, trying to pull it into view, with a distant thought that I was probably making this more difficult than necessary.
I heard laughter, and looked up from my fight with the coat to see Aly red-faced from trying to stifle her giggles.
“Why…didn’t you just…put the blanket…down?” She managed to choke the words out around her laughter.
I opened my mouth to reply, then thought about it, and realised she was right. I snorted, “Well that would just be too easy, wouldn’t it?” I replied.
Aly howled with laughter.
I scowled at her half-heartedly, and went back to the coat, determined not to let the coat beat me.
She left her post at the door, still hiccupping, and knelt in front of me, gently slipping the edges of the coat out of my hands. She hooked the zip in the clasp, and drew the coat closed in a matter of seconds. Then she plucked the hat and gloves from between my legs, and stood up. Smiling to herself, she stroked my hair away from my face, and settled the hat onto my head. Taking care of me as always. Then she handed me the gloves, and plucked the blanket out from it’s perch between my chin and chest; honestly, I had forgotten I was still holding it there.
She must have read the thought on my face, because she grinned at me.
“You are one of the most brilliant, intelligent people I have ever met,” She said, her eyes shining with humour.
I pouted slightly, looking up at her. “Why do I feel like there is a but coming?”
She looked me. Her face was completely serious, and only her eyes gave away her amusement as she said, “But you have absolutely no common sense what so ever.”
I couldn’t help but laugh with her.
“Okay, are you actually ready to go now?” She asked jokingly, heading for the door again.
“Born ready,” I said, slipping my gloves on and following her outside.
The air gripped me in a cold fist, and after a few breaths I felt my lungs restrict slightly from the cold. I took the pillows from underneath my arms, and hugged them to my chest, huddling in a vain attempt to conserve heat. We walked leisurely towards the park in companionable silence. My cheeks had turned to ice, and I couldn’t feel my nose anymore, but I didn’t mind: I loved being out at night. The dark gives everything a completely different atmosphere, with even the most open spaces being cast in shadow. The moon was full and, illuminating the world in an almost opalescent light.
The edge of the park was decorated with a thick lines of trees, which could be slightly unnerving to walk through at night alone, but with someone else the darkness was pleasant, peaceful even.
We found a spot at the other side of the park, and set the blanket and pillows down on the ground, laying down to stare up at the sky.
The sky was a thick quilt of black, the kind you only get in true darkness in the dead of winter. The stars were even brighter for it, embellishing the sky in a patch-work of constellations.
“What’s so special about a few shooting stars, anyway?” Aly spoke softly into the darkness.
No one else was around, so there wasn’t really any need to whisper, but there’s something intimate about the night that makes whispering seem more appropriate.
“They’re not shooting stars, it’s a meteor shower.” I murmured back, not daring to turn my attention away from the stars. I pointed up at the sky, “You see that cluster of stars there, the ones that look like two stick men holding hands?”
Aly muttered a noise of agreement, the one which meant that she definitely had no idea what I was talking about. I continued, pretending that she could see them.
“That’s the Gemini constellation. The shower happens this time every year, and they’re called the Geminids because it looks like they are radiating out of the centre of the constellation. The Geminids were first discovered in 1862, but it wasn’t until-”
Then the first meteor streaked across the sky, as quick as a camera flash, and cut me off. I squeeze my eyes shut, not daring to breath, and made my wish.
When I opened my eyes again, Aly’s face filled field of vision. She was lying on her side, propped up on one elbow, a strange look on her face.
“What?” I asked, feeling slightly nervous under her scrutinising gaze.
“Did you just make a wish on the star?” She asked, her voice both perplexed and sceptical.
“Yeah,” I felt my face flush slightly with embarrassment. But I fought it off and gave her a defiant look. “So what?”
“You just gave me this educational lecture on the history of the meteor shower, and then in the same breath you made a wish on a star.” A slow smile was spreading across her face.
I pouted at her; it was my go to face when she was making fun of me.
“Again, what is your point?”
She grinned at me, reaching to brush my hair back in that familiar gesture, her hand lingering against my cheek. That one touch thawed the ice of my face, and I nestled my cheek closer against her invitingly warm palm.
“You are just one big old walking contradiction, aren’t you?” She said, her voice holding all the affection that filled her face.
I shrugged awkwardly against the floor.
“Yep,” my face began to stretch into what was, admittedly, a slightly smug smile. “But that’s what makes me so loveable.”
“Uh huh,” she mumbled, leaning her face closer until her lips brushed against mine. “That and your overwhelming humility.”
My breath caught just from being so close to her, and I had a fleeting moment to wonder if she was going to kiss me, before I couldn’t think any more because her mouth was on mine. The kiss was gentle, a soft caressing of lips, but it was fuelled with so much emotion that I was almost breathless when we broke apart.
Aly leaned back to lie down beside me, reaching down to entwine her hand in mine. A few moments of contented silence passed before she asked, “What did you wish for anyway.”
I looked across at her, and she turned her head to look at me. I stared into her eyes. I loved her eyes. They reminded me so much of the night sky; deep blue, so rich it was almost black, filled with so much life that they sparkled like the stars themselves. I smiled softly at her, as I answered.
“I wished for more of this.”
She beamed at me knowingly, and pulled me in to rest my head in the bend of her arm.
She knew me so well that I didn’t even need to explain. I didn’t have to say aloud that I wanted more years filled with the magical moments like this. Moments with her when the whole world stopped, and all the mattered was the gentle thrumming of our hearts, and the mist of our breath against the cold air. Looking up at the sky, I sent the universe a silent prayer of thanks for blessing me with the times like this that made life worth living.
And I wished for more of this.
I wished for more of the simple things.
– © J. E. Fitzgerald –