Looking for Warmth in the Cold

An offering of flash fiction pondering the lengths one who is consumed by lust will go in pursuit of such desires…

Ben Zank Photography

by: Robert Steward

Richard had to act immediately. Every second that passed would make the moment more awkward, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. He’d already told Priti he’d enjoyed the film, already complimented her on her henna bracelet, and they had already arranged another date. Now it was time to look into her dark brown eyes, run his fingers through her black, wavy hair and move in — for the kiss.

“Oh, I love this song,” Priti said in her sweet Brummie accent while turning up the volume on the car stereo. “Careless Whisper.”

The music hid the hum of the running engine which played on Richard’s mind and made the situation feel more urgent. If it had been his car, he would have cut the engine and stalled for time. But it was Priti’s, her first. A brown, second-hand Mini Cooper, which smelt of sandalwood perfume.

The stirring saxophone solo in the song snaked through Richard’s body like an electric eel, jolting him into action, moving him in slow motion towards Priti’s masala red lips. He closed his eyes, and when their lips met, he felt a release, a warm relief which welled up from his stomach. The kiss, soft at first, grew with intensity as they explored each other’s mouths, making Richard feverous.

Just then, a raucous howl echoed around them.

“What the…?” Richard said, pulling himself away.

Through the steamed up passenger window he could make out three men in the front yard of the house across the street. One of them wore a t-shirt as if it was midsummer. He seemed to be angry for some reason, kicking over a dustbin, littering the front porch with rubbish.

“Get tae fuck!” another shouted in a Scottish brogue as he tossed the dustbin lid as if a frisbee into the next door neighbor’s rose bushes.

The tallest, with wild, fiery hair, booted open the front door of the house, and one by one they staggered in, assumably drunk, high, or both.

“I can’t believe it,” Richard whispered, evidently astonished anyone could do something like that to their own home.

“Shit.” Priti covered her mouth. “Are they your neighbors?”

“No.” Richard turned towards her. “I live further down.”

“Well, London boy, Blakenhall isn’t exactly the best part of Wolverhampton.”

“So, I see.” Richard felt the back of his neck.

The song succumbed to local news on the radio, and the moment had all but gone.

“Is that the time?” Priti said, looking at her watch. “I’d better be going.”

“Can’t you stay a bit longer?”

“I’ve got an early start at the hospital tomorrow. We can’t all live charmed student lives, you know.”

“See you next week, then?”

Priti smiled, but left the sentence hanging, leaving Richard with a pang of anxiety.

He climbed out of the car and waved as the Mini drove to the end of the road. He waited on the street until it was out of sight. The cold moonlight shone in contrast with the warmth Richard had felt just moments before in Priti’s arms making him shiver. Had he been a smoker, he would indulged in a cigarette just to prolong the warm feeling between his lips.

Richard turned on his heels with a sigh, and as he walked over the debris of broken glass, beer cans, and cigarette packets, he noticed his Scottish flatmates hadn’t even bothered to close the front door behind them.


Robert Steward teaches English as a foreign language and lives in London. He is currently writing a collection of short stories, several of which have appeared in online literary magazines, including: Scrittura, New Pop Lit, The Ink Pantry, Adelaide and The Foliate Oak. You can find them at twitter.com/theroadtonaples.

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