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Here's an excerpt from August Fog:
"Just Neighbors Walking Their Dogs..."
"I don't know... I think Alex thinks I'm just distracted from the new job because I haven't wanted to hang around him much. I feel bad."
"I hope we're always honest." He swept her pinky with his.
The word always insinuated more than a short little fling. He wants honesty huh? "What is this?" she blurted, "between us, I mean… what is this?"
"I don't know. You want me to stay away?" Please say no.
"No. I don't know what I want. It’s just happening fast... I just started this new job." She exhaled hard. "It'd just be nice to slow things down. It's like we can't be around each other now without touching and it's got me distracted and-"
"I can be with you without touching." He gave her more space on the sidewalk. "See. We're hanging out now, not touching."
"You know what I mean. You just brushed my hand back there and I almost let go of Lacey to jump you in the bushes." He laughed as she flashed a flirty smile. "I just need to cool things off a bit and process everything."
They walked for another half block in silence. The sidewalk narrowed as they turned the corner so Monica and Lacey moved in front. She started to panic. What did I just do? Things were going good and you just stopped it. Now he's gonna be weird...
"Did you see that graffiti on the school up here?" He pointed to the school coming up in front of them.
"No. What's it say?"
"Just bullshit curse words. Pisses me off. That mural was so great."
The mural that took up the entire side of the building showed children in the middle of a group of adults holding hands in a circle around them. The people were of all races and creeds and the message it takes a community was written at the top. It was one of those great cultural things that made their neighborhood bright and unique, and now someone tried to ruin it with a juvenile stunt.
"Not even a real tag, huh?" she said looking at it the words Fucker and Dickhole in red spray paint.
"This was just an angry kid with no respect for anything special. It must have happened last night. I called the school today."
"You did?" She turned to him surprised.
"Yeah. I told ‘em I lived in the neighborhood and was interested in helping fix it."
"Wow. That was pretty generous of you!"
"No. It's just the right thing to do... I'm right here, I might as well. The principal called me back and said the artist died ten years ago. He wants to meet with me tomorrow to see my work and talk."
"That's so great!"
"Well, I gotta make some good karma right now." He gave her a look.
"Because of me?"
"I feel guilty too you know."
As they got closer to their houses, Monica didn't know what to say. All tied in knots now, she made her way into her backyard and let Lacey run around. She didn't even say good-bye but could still hear him as he walked into Rebecca's house. Monica headed up the steep stairs to her attic studio and almost bumped her head when her phone vibrated. Quinn.
"Hey." She turned around, following his voice leaning against his railing below and sat down to get a better view. He took a deep breath. "I won't apologize for wanting to touch you all the time."
"I'm not looking for an apology."
"Then why does it seem like you’re angry?"
"Because I've done something I never thought I would. I'm angry at myself," she said.
"You want to end this now? I'll back off. No more texts or walks... or painting. No more sex." He paused with a shrug. "I'll do that if it'll make you happier."
"No. That wouldn't make me happy."
"I think about you all the time... I just don't know what this can be."
"So don't define it right now, just let it be," he said. "Let's just get to know each other."
"Because the more time I spend with you... the harder it is to let you go."
"So don't." His words lingered like his distant stare. He moved down his stairs and made his way towards her yard. His breathing grew harder and she tingled with the creaking of steps. When he got to the top of her landing he stopped and said, "Just tell me to go away."
He slipped the phone in his pocket and joined her on the old oak floor in one swoop.
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August Fog 99¢