A cool wind tugged at the exposed bit of skin between my socks and jeans as I sat on the crest of a hill. I scanned the predawn skyline. I knew there were trees off in the distance but I couldn’t really see them, they were fuzzy shapes mostly. I played a game where I would close my eyes for thirty seconds and then open them to see if I could see anything new. There was just enough extra light to make out some more objects. Whenever I sat down and hugged my knees to my chest the back of my shirt would ride up and leave a patch of skin exposed. I felt a chill as the wind snaked up my spine and cooled the sweat in my shirt. I tried to hold the shiver in but ended up shuddering rather violently. I hugged myself a bit tighter and strained my eyes to the pathway below looking for signs of movement. I thought maybe a grey body was making its way up the hill but I couldn’t be sure as it was still too dark.
‘Where is she?’ I wondered out loud.
‘Who?’ A voice came from behind.
Her voice was gravelly and hushed as it always was this early in the morning. Whenever we met here before dawn it was a sacrilege to speak too loudly. There was something remarkable about the pre-dawn silence that called for stillness and we only spoke when absolutely necessary.
She sat next to me. Her body was warm from the walk. The predawn breeze had picked up so she huddled in tightly but I didn’t mind at all. We sat and faced the wind and just enjoyed being in that moment.
‘Did you bring it?’ I asked after a suitable length of time. There was no need to rush things.
‘Of course, do I ever forget?’ she said and turned to her backpack. Inside was a thermos of hot coffee and fresh croissants from the bakery along with a room temperature brie. As she laid it out in front of us the smell of the croissants filled my nostrils and I savoured each deep breath. They were still warm from the bakery. Old Ricky Moffat was a gentle man with a strong sense of community and one of the few left in this town. He would open before dawn to do the bread deliveries around town but made sure he had some croissants ready for us every Saturday morning. They didn’t get many customers at that time of day but we were regulars, taking a turn-about at arranging the supplies.
Claire deftly opened the Brie and sliced it into generous lengths – this morning was not about austerity. She then cut open the still warm croissants and placed the slices of brie in between. She closed them quickly and put them back into the basket. There was no sense letting them go cold while she poured the coffees.
I watched as the outline of her lithe figure found its way through her baggy clothes as she moved about. Claire always dressed modestly but having hugged her and watched her move I knew that she hid a beautifully strong and toned body beneath the layers of clothes. I watched as her head bobbed back and forth, titling with the thermos as she poured it. Her pony tail that was resting to the right flopped onto the left as she finished pouring the last cup. She stood triumphantly and handed me a cup of the hot liquid. With her now free hand she brushed some of her brunette hair out of her face.
She bent down over me to get the croissants from the basket that was nearby. I sat transfixed as her ample bosom brushed past me. She stood again in front of me and handed me the croissant. I took a bite of the flakey pastry glued together with the warmed cheese and was in culinary heaven.
‘You’re amazing’ I mumbled through mouthfuls.
‘I know.’ She said, all too proud of herself as she sat down next to me.
She nestled in to me as we ate together and drank our milky, sweet coffee and watched the sky lighten with the approaching dawn. Birds started calling to each other to announce the new day. We listened as birds from afar responded to those nearby. Back and forth they called to each other with increasing frequency. It was a song that was unique to each day but had been rehearsed since the dawn of time and it never seemed to grow old.
I looked at Claire as the first light of the sun peeked over the horizon, her flushed cheeks now showed their redness and a stray auburn hair caught the sunlight. Claire looked back at me with wide brown eyes and held my gaze.
‘I’m cold’ she said as she snuggled in like a mewling kitten.
I took my jacket off and wrapped it around us both. I put my arm around her underneath the jacket. The skin on her shoulders felt cool through the fabric of her clothes.
‘We should bring a blanket next time; it’s really starting to get cold in the mornings.’ I mused.
‘Yeah, but this is good too.’
I went to reach past her to get another croissant. Claire mistook it as me trying to make a move on her. It was a mistake I’d happily make again as she grabbed my face in both hands and planted a kiss firmly on my lips. The warmth of her lips was almost too warm on my cool face but I never wanted it to end. It didn’t end for quite a while, Claire was a very good kisser. She opened her eyes for a second and she stopped.
‘You need to close your eyes.’
‘Oh?’ I said, now completely embarrassed like I’d somehow broken everything.
‘You’re doing just fine, it just weirds me out when one person has their eyes open and the other person doesn’t’, she said, trying not to interrupt the moment.
‘I… erm… I think I need more practice.’
So we did. We practiced for quite some time, in fact. We were in a fairly advanced stage of undress when I noticed her breathing change. I extricated one arm and propped myself up all the while marveling at the exposed skin below.
‘Is everything ok?’ Claire asked as she pulled her top back down and returned herself to her usual modest state.
‘I dunno, I stopped ‘cause I thought you were breathing funny…’
Claire looked at me as if I had two heads. ‘Seriously? We…’ she trailed off and sat up. A golden retriever trotted towards us with tongue out and tail wagging. Claire melted at the sight of the animal. I was no longer the focus of her attention. She called it over and petted it. I sat beside her like an abandoned toy. I still had my shirt off and stared forlorn into the distance as I saw the balding head of a man pop up over the crest of the hill. The rest of him followed soon after. He was an older man but moved easily up the hill.
‘Looks like we’ve interrupted here Roxy. We might leave these two love birds alone.’
I blushed, Claire blushed, the dog just sat there enjoying the attention and wagging its tail like it hadn’t just interrupted the most important moment of my life. Stupid dog. The old man turned and looked out to the east to catch the last of the golden glow of the sunrise. He whistled to Roxy. The dog turned its head toward the noise then leapt up to follow her master.
‘Today is a good day. Enjoy it kids.’ He said to us as he walked off the way he came.
We both looked at each other and still giddy from the heights of passion, we giggled at the strange old man. He had disappeared from view but he must have heard our laughter as we heard him call out to us.
‘Not every day is a good day. Enjoy them when you get them.’
We shrugged. Claire started to pack up our little nest of stuff.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked like a petulant child.
‘I have to go, I have to help my Dad down at the shop today.’ She said busying herself with getting her things together. Once everything was packed up, she left me with a parting kiss that was so sweet and tender I could barely stand by the time she stopped. I had never felt a sorrow so like physical pain as when she left. The only thing that stopped me from being consumed by it was the lingering sweetness of her kiss and the hope for another like it. As I began to walk home, the pain subsided and I was overjoyed by a simple revelation.
‘My first kiss!’