by Matthew Roy Davey
a hot toddy
We’d heard on the radio or read in a paper, I forget which, that there was going to be a meteor shower so a big group of us decided it would be fun to go and watch it far from the lights of town.
Emyr and Lawrie drove up and met us at the hotel after the dinner shift finished. We took some bottles from the bar, piled into the cars and headed for the Cotswolds. Lucy couldn’t come, she had the breakfast shift the next day and made me promise to be quiet when I came in.
We got to Nibley, parked and headed up the muddy path that led to the Tindale Monument. It was cold November and the ground was wet. Some of us had torches and Emyr had a head lamp. Bella held on to my arm, to stop herself losing her footing she said. I didn’t mind. She was a year younger than me and the previous Spring I’d helped her prepare for her A Level English in a pub garden. She was a friend of Lucy and Lucy hadn’t been too happy when she’d found out, she thought Bella fancied me which I’d thought ridiculous.
At the top of the hill we emerged from the trees to find the sky a mass of cloud. We hiked up to the monument, took beers from our bags and someone lit a small fire. Our breath billowed as we stared skyward, hoping for a break in the grey canopy. Below us stretched the scattered lights of Gloucestershire and the Severn Estuary. No one really minded that we had nothing to wish on, we were laughing too much at what we were doing, we’d never climbed a hill in the middle of the night before. I sat on the stone shelf around the base of the monument and stared across the flood plain. Bella came and sat next to me.
“It’s cold,” she said and moved closer. I put my arm around her and squeezed. It was very dark and no one said anything but after a little while I got up and moved away, smiling at Bella as I went.
The way back down was harder, slippier.
In the car I sat in the middle of the back seat, Bella on my right. She leaned in and put her head on my shoulder. She felt soft and warm and I could feel her breath on my neck, her hair tickling my cheek. No one could see us in the darkness and no one was interested. I felt her hand next to mine, our skin just touching and then our fingers as though with minds of their own interlaced, tightening around each other. It felt good, it felt bad, it felt warm. I wondered where on Earth it was taking me and right then I didn’t care, I just smiled in the darkness as the night rushed past outside. Above the clouds the sky lit up with a million wishes.
About the author
Matthew Roy Davey has won the Dark Tales and The Observer short story competitions, has been long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction award, Reflex Flash Fiction competition, Retreat West Quarterly competition and was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Bristol, England and has no hobbies.