Late Night Routine (vignette)

The evening inched towards the morning hours – midnight just past, yet the Weyrwoman was not in her cottage sleeping soundly as she ought to have been. Instead she lurked in the shadows outside the Wandering Wherry; her nightly habit of two and a half turns, awaiting the closure of the establishment and the ejection of late-night patrons.

It was no surprise who was among them, not tossed out, but escorted by the ‘tender with perhaps more deference than the others, due perhaps to her knot. The ‘tender knew who it was that waited without and so it was into her arms he released the drunken man.

“Safe home,” he said gently as he did each night after helping to drape the limp arm about her shoulders. And then gone, back inside to drag and drop the others to find their own way home or sleep off their booze like so much litter upon the ground of the clearing before the tavern.

“Heyyy shssugar,” the man slurred with an inebriated leer at her, trying not to reel. Her arm tightened about his waist and her fingers dug around the leather that belted his lean hips to hold him steady.

“Hello yourself,” she’d responded with the patient sort of re-greeting that tells of too many times having said this. She directed their steps down the road towards his weyrbarn, as she did so many turns ago before they’d become weyrmates. As she’d done nearly every night since they’d separated. Silent, not seeking to converse with him or prod him to change as they walked the darkened road towards the coast. Patient… and grieved.

“You’re pretty.”

A deep shaft of pain, ignored. “Thanks, so are you."

"We're both pretty we should be pretty together," the words all run together, but she knew them by heart.

"I'm sure we already are," the dry answer given by rote.

The replaying of decades long-ago conversation could actually be the original, for she felt the same this night as she did back then: aching for the waste, disapproval for his choice.

The Weyrbarn, so familiar to her, loomed in the darkness. The familiar blue lounged in front of it allowed her to pass unchecked.

The inside, known even though she no longer resided there navigated automatically, as she’d guided him to that couch. Just as she’d done that long-ago night and for the better part of the past two and a half turns, avoided the low table, taking care not to bark his shins on it. He’d swear if he ran him into it, say he ought to throw it out. Even in the dark she knew that the place had reverted back to the emptiness and air of neglect it had before she’d come to live in it. The old couch, however, was the same and it was there that she’d directed him, as she’d done every night, rather than to the bed they’d once shared in the other room.

Trying to ease him down alone upon that couch, instead acquiescing to the clinging arms that pulled her down with his flop, unmindful of who he’d snared, Thea had waited for the inevitable: That oh-so-typical grin of his and the “Love you, Babe.” When it flashed at her in the dark, she’d been unsure if his mind wandered in the past or if it was a line he used on the women ghosting in his mind these days. She’d made no reply.

As always he’d passed out before he realized he hadn’t gotten that answer, the alcohol, stealing him away for one more night as he attained the oblivion he’d sought.

She’d remained unmoving for a time within those arms, even though they’d grown heavy and limp. Then she’d gently pulled out of the loose embrace, eased him prone, removed his boots, loosened his belt and flipped the blanket from the back of the couch onto him. She’d leaned over him, unmindful of the whiskey fumes given off and brushed her lips to his in a barely-there touch.

Speaking the truth, “Love you too, Donn,” she’d whispered, fingers trailing over his stubble-roughened jaw.

Then she'd slipped out, finished with her task.

Until tomorrow night.

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License