He wondered if this time of night, or morning, felt like this everywhere else.
He had lived in a few others places (briefly) but none of them felt exactly the same.
Not like this.
It was that perfect time when dew was just starting to lick surfaces. When, if you tried very hard, you could see the sky lightening ever so slightly.
He was still wondering when she spoke again.
“I was talking to your friend Abby at the party.”
“She’s a filthy liar and –”
“She said you’re a great guy.”
“– a lovely woman, that one.” he finished.
“I did get the impression that you’ve dated a lot of women in this town.”
“That’s outrageous!” he faux-raged.
They met a twenty-something woman, also enjoying this early hour. She smiled at them.
“Did you date her?” she whisper asked.
“A little. And her sister. And one aunt. Her mom. A cousin from the city. The girl who cuts her hair.”
“Are you kidding?” she asked.
“I hope so.”
“About her mom…”
They kept walking. He didn’t really have a destination in mind when she asked him to leave the party with her to show her around town. But since his little burgh slopes towards the harbour, that seemed like a natural direction to follow.
He spotted the playground. He looked at her. She shrugged. He smiled. Moments later he gave her a boost over the four foot fence and quickly followed.
He pushed her swing a few times to get her started. Then he hopped on his own and worked to catch up. Their swinging was out of sync, but they met in the middle.
“You think you’re pretty cute, don’t you?” she asked.
“Cute is fairly subjective…”
“You think you can bat your hazel eyes at me, say something clever and I’ll throw myself at you?”
“Oh. Yes. I definitely think that.” he replied.
“I have to watch you.”
“I thought my eyes were brown.”
They swung in silence for a while. He thought he could hear seagulls in the distance, getting ready to punch the time clock for the day.
“Keep touring?” she asked.
They went up and over the fence again and kept following the dark street towards the sounds of the gently lapping harbour waves.
She stumbled — just a little — as one foot stepped in a crack in the pavement. She grabbed his arm for balance. She held it for a little longer than she needed. But, he suspected, not for as long as she wanted to.
“Come this way,” he said, leading her down an even darker dirt “road.”
She followed. “Where are we–?”
“Almost there,” he replied.
And then he saw it. And then she did too.
“I know,” he smiled.
A large rock was sitting half in the harbour. The moonlight was framing it.
He took her by the arm and guided her over shore and slippery rocks. He pushed her up on it, as gracefully as possible, and climbed up next to her.
The harbour stretched out before them. The moon’s twin did a sparkly kind of slow dance.
A breeze blew up. Even though the breeze’s purpose was to blow in the curtains of any over-sleeping fisherman, they got to share in it. She shivered. Just a little. He slipped off his coat and gently placed it on her shoulders.
He stared at the harbour he had stared at so many times before, only half noticing her staring at him.
When she couldn’t take it anymore, “You know… THIS would be a perfect time to kiss me.”
In the not so far off distance, a diesel engine coughed and sputtered to life.
He turned to her. He smiled. He gently brushed the hair out of her eyes.
“No,” he exhaled.