Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Sunday, January 8: Girl on a Bicycle

 

Nadine woke early and saw that it was just after seven.

She carefully freed herself from beneath Miranda’s arm, then crawled out from under the blankets to sit on the edge of the bed. She shivered in the cold of the bedroom and blinked blearily at her bare feet as she decided whether she was really awake for good. After a week of unseasonably warm temperatures, it seemed the weather suddenly realized it was winter and started acting accordingly.

After a minute or two of wakefulness, she decided sleeping in wouldn’t be an option. She tucked her hands up into the sleeves of her undershirt and padded barefoot to the thermostat. She pushed it up a few degrees, then went back to the bedroom and pecked her wife on the cheek. Miranda murmured, but didn’t wake.

Nadine used the bathroom and then stripped out of her pajamas, exchanging them for jeans and a thick sweater over a long-sleeved T-shirt. She slipped quietly out of the bedroom, leaving the lights off as she moved through the house. She found her sneakers under the coffee table and sat down to slip them on. She tied them slowly, then put her chin on her fist and gazed out the window for a few minutes trying to wake up enough to stand again.

Finally, she sighed and forced herself to her feet. She went out through the back door, since it was farther from her sleeping wife and it was slightly quieter when it closed. Outside, the sky was still holding on to the darkness of night, but the sun was beginning to brighten the far edges of the eastern sky over the neighbor’s roof. Her shoes crunched the dry fallen leaves as she walked around the side of the house to get her bicycle.

There was no guard on duty at the front gate, as he was usually only there for the morning drive and rush hour. She punched her code into the keypad, waited for the gate to slowly swing open, and rode through. She checked over her shoulder to make sure the gate closed behind her before she pedaled away.

December Harbor was still asleep except for her, so she took the rare opportunity to ride her bike down the middle of the street. Occasionally a car or truck came by, and she veered onto the sidewalk to let them pass. She was in no particular hurry, meandering down side streets on a trajectory that would end up at the harbor.

She could see the masts of sailboats over the buildings of downtown. When she arrived at the ferry lanes, which was once more a parking lot for people waiting for the first ferry of the day, she parked her bike in front of Gail’s. She’d left it there before and knew it would be safe. She set off on foot down the boardwalk, hands in her pockets and face turned toward the water to watch as it slowly gained light and color from the sun.

A few months ago a new coffee shop had opened on the boardwalk, not far from Gail’s, and Nadine sat on the bench outside. The ferry arrived through an early morning fogbank like a mythical carriage, golden light pouring from the windows and reflecting off the still waters. The cold and exercise had woken her up enough that she was feeling the cold. And she felt alert enough that she would remember how beautiful it was later.

The problem with going to work at ten in the morning was she never got a chance to appreciate the pre-dawn stillness. She lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and she never took the time to just sit and watch the day begin. She breathed in deep and sighed, smiling at a tourist couple who passed by her. It was solitary and peaceful, but she would have traded the quiet for the warm body of her wife to snuggle up against.

In rapid succession, the sky turned from dark violet to lavender to navy blue. As it paled to robin’s egg, and the streets around her became more active, she got up and went into the coffee shop. She ordered Miranda’s favorite coffee, and one for herself, and got a drink carrier to take it all back to her bicycle. She had a basket under the seat, and the carrier fit snugly inside. The sunlight was like white-gold, cutting strips up and down the streets. The buildings were outlined in sharp relief, every surface outlined with bold shadows.

The front gate was open when Nadine got home, and she waved to the guard as she zipped past. She parked at home and carried the coffee inside.

“Miranda?” She glanced into the kitchen, but the front of the house was still dark. She carried the coffees into the bedroom.

The bathroom door opened and Miranda emerged wearing a fluffy yellow towel. Her hair was wet and combed away from her face, which was devoid of makeup. She smiled and Nadine’s heart did back flips.

“I knew you’d show up if I stopped waiting. Where were you?”

“Exercise, sightseeing… coffee.” She checked the lids. “Here. I noticed you’ve been getting these since that place opened.”

Miranda took the cup and sipped. “Mm. Oh, Dean, heaven. But I would have preferred having you wake me up.”

“Well, drink the coffee and we can have a do-over with the benefit of being wide-awake.”

“Oh, I like that.” She stepped closer and kissed Nadine good morning. The kiss lingered. When they parted, Miranda stroked Nadine’s hair and said, “You’re cold. Hop in the shower. I’ll be waiting.”

“In the towel?”

“Doubtful.”

Nadine grinned and patted Miranda’s rear end as she ducked into the bathroom. She put her coffee on the counter for after the shower and looked at her reflection in the mirror.

It was still early, but it was shaping up to be a pretty good day.

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