THE BITING OF THE COLD.

It was the day after JFK got blown away and Judith saw Benedict briefly after work outside the gas station where he worked. Shame about the President, she said, I quite liked him. Yes, bloody, Benedict said, why do they do that? Why blow away a good man When there are plenty of bad buggers to blow out. Judith looked up at the moon; her coat was buttoned up tight to keep out the cold. How are you? she asked. Benedict gazed at her. So so, bored with the job, darn gas and oil and all that moaning from the customers. It comes with the territory, she said. Apart from that then? she said. He smelt her perfume; it was different from her usual. New scent? She smiled. Yes, glad you noticed, she said.

Bought it from my own money instead of having to borrow my mother’s. That other stuff was your mother’s? Yes, she said. God, no wonder it was bad, he said. She hit his arm. Only joking he said. How can I tell with you? she said. When I smile, then I’m joking. She sniffed the air. Frost coming. He looked at her walking beside him, her hands in her pockets, her headscarf on her head, her hair escaping, the moonlight catching it. Cold? he asked, I know how we can get warm. Not tonight and not how it went before, she said. Shame, he said, the moon’s out full and the stars are bright. Do you love me? she asked. Of course I do, he said. Then wait, she said. He wanted to hold her hand, but it was shoved in her pocket. Can I kiss you? he asked. She stopped by the roadside. The hedgerows were like small dark walls, trees stood like silent giants. She took out

her hands and held him close and they kissed. It was the first time they’d kissed in a while, he recalled the time before, her lips had pressed lightly then, half not wanting to, half unsure. He sensed her lips there, the pressing was firm, her warmth warmed him. He held her about the waist, wanted to touch her skin, her nakedness. Their lips parted. They stood looking at each other. He saw her eyes catch moonlight, tears reflected. She sensed a growing apart, she’d met another, at work, in the town, wasn’t sure where it would go. Benedict sensed uncertainty there, something out of place, a connection loosened, despite the kiss and hold. The darkening night, the biting of the cold.

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