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Count the Minutes

I had to leave for work in fifteen minutes. Eric would be gone when I returned. Two weeks without him. Why did he have to abandon me for his family's cabin in Maine? Two weeks. Fourteen minutes.

He sat there on the couch, spreading cream cheese on a bagel. His big, warm fingers curved around the knife's handle, his wrist twisting to smear the smooth white cheese across the bagel's surface, leaving tiny furrows from the knife's ridges. Those fingers that had burned against the skin of my shoulders the last time he had touched me.

Eric looked up and nodded a hello to me. I joined him, with my glass of cranberry juice and a granola bar. "You all packed?" I asked, taking a slow sip of my juice. The bittersweet liquid cooled my tongue and slipped down my throat, pooling in my stomach. I ached to share the taste with him, the cream cheese on his own tongue flirting with cranberries. Thirteen minutes.

"Yeah," he said. "I can't find the CD I was supposed to bring my sister though. You haven't seen it around, have you?"

"No," I said, gazing towards his bedroom door, the door across from mine. Two walls and a hallway separated us at night. I usually lay awake, waiting for the sounds of Guitar Hero to cease. Then the techno beats would thump softly through the thin walls, carrying the moans and gasps with them.

I knew the acoustics of all his favorite porn clips by heart. Though I never had the chance to see who was making the noises, I echoed their moans with my own. As his hand slid up and down two walls away, my fingers swirled their own rhythm. Sometimes I could hear his own gasps join the video voices; that always did the trick for me.

Twelve minutes. We ate in silence. Eleven. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven... He stood and wiped his mouth, walking into the kitchen to wash his hands and throw away the paper towel. Six. Five. I put my glass in the sink and threw away the granola bar wrapper. Four. I grabbed my bag. Three.

"Well, I'm off to work," I said. "Call me when you get to Maine so I know you're safe, all right?"

"Will do," he said. "I'm leaving in an hour, and it should take me six to drive there."

"Fun," I rolled my eyes. Two.

"See ya, Alex," he said, leaning over and wrapping his arms around me. I leaned into his chest, inhaling deeply. He hadn't showered yet, and his distinct, musky aroma swam through my nostrils. Enveloped in his warmth, I clung to him and squinted my eyes shut. His hands rested gently on my back, pressing me close to him. I could hear his heart gently thumping underneath cotton and flesh. For a moment, I had him. The one thing in this world that I wanted was mine. One.

The cool breeze tickled my skin as he slowly pulled away. The separation ached in my chest. So cold. "Bye," I whispered, giving a little wave and walking toward the door.

Getting into my car, a stinging sensation swept through my nostrils and eyes. I felt the tears brewing as I started the engine. I saw his face in the window as I backed out of our driveway. He was watching me go. But his face blurred as a salty trickle ran down my cheek and stained the collar of my shirt.

I shifted into drive and headed down the road towards work. Two weeks. One hug to get me through it. It was all I could ask for.

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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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