The Travelers

It came to Gail like a sweet dream that night. A memory of a better time. A different time. They had been so young. Avery had just managed to grow a few inches taller than Gail. It was her first month on the streets. The dampness of the city was what bothered her the most. There was no dry land to settle down on. She was sure she’d catch a cold within the first week.  

The pavement was damper than Gail had been expecting. Clammy fabric clung to her skin. A shiver ran through her, unsolicited. Gritting her teeth, she wrapped her threadbare shrug tightly around her shoulders. 

“Cold?” Avery smirked, while trembling himself.  

“What’s it to you?” Gail snapped with as much spite as she could muster though clenched teeth. 

Avery sat down next to her, radiating heat, inviting, tempting, scarce heat. Gail scooted towards him. 

“Uh-uh!” Avery put up a lean finger,“Ask nicely.”

Gail scowled. “Avery.”

The latter smiled attentively. 

“Sweet Avery.” Gail swallowed her pride,“Be a dear and don’t let me freeze to death.”

Avery considered it. “You can do better.”

Gail scowled. Gathering what was left of her dignity, Gail peeled herself off of the pavement. Her limbs moved lethargically. “Avery-”

Avery waited, amused. 

“I swear,” Gail took a shaky breath, “When my fist thaws,” The words turned to mist before her, “I’ll plant it between your eyes—”

He was giggling now. “C’mere.” 

Avery’s arm fell heavily around her shoulders. He smelled like week old body odor, but to be fair, she did too. She let him know, nonetheless. 

“You’re a real dear, you know that?” He pulled her closer, still laughing. 

The sun was setting in front of them. Its rays refracted, aiming to burn her retinas. Rather than squinting, she closed her eyes all together. When the red passed from the back of her eyelids, she opened her eyes. Avery was peering down at her, a fly in her peripheral. Looking up, she met his eye. For a moment, the world went quiet and all she could hear was the heavy “thump” of his heart. A labored note against her eardrum. 

“Where do we go from here?”

He rolled his eyes,“Do you always need to have places to be?”

“And people to see,” She affirmed, resting her head more comfortably against his shoulder.

“Close your eyes for a while, Gail,” Avery did the same,“The people can wait.”

If there were any people left for her to see, she doubted they could afford to wait, but she closed her eyes nonetheless.

All rights reserved © 2021 Josephine Joyil

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