Only lit up by a few streetlights, the street seemed extra quiet tonight. Paul leaned against the balcony door as he looked down on the street from the bedroom. A gentle summer breeze made the white curtains move like they were dancing a slow dance, or like the veil of a blushing bride dancing in the wind. He couldn`t help but smile as he pictured Terese on their wedding day.
Paul took a deep breath, closed his eyes for a few seconds. Maybe the street wasn`t so quiet tonight after all. With his eyes closed he could hear a guitar playing. Karl. It had to be. Paul smiled. He didn`t mind the guitar, as long as Karl didn`t start singing.
On the sidewalk, right next to Toadie`s front yard he could see a small bike. Probably Nell`s or Hugo`s. He`d walk over there tomorrow morning and move it so Toadie wouldn’t run over it with his car. He`d be the first one to leave the street tomorrow morning anyway. Getting in a few hours of prepping before an investor meeting at lunch tomorrow.
Without thinking about it, more out of old habit, he lifted his hand to his chin and slowly ran his thumb over that small scar. Right there, outside of Toadie`s front yard was where he fell of a bike. He remembered how his chin was bleeding, and how he had cried that day. Not so much because he had hurt himself in the fall, but because he was afraid that Mr. Ramsay would yell at him for borrowing Shanes bike without asking first. He couldn`t have been much older than Nell was now. He remembered how his mom came running out. How she took him to see the doctor. Two stitches. She had called him “her brave little man” and they had stopped for ice cream on their way home. Shane`s bike got a flat tire that day, but his mom never told Mr. Ramsay who did it. It was their little secret. If anyone asked, they said he hurt his chin playing cricket. His dad had given him a pat on the shoulder. “Your first sports injurie, Paul. Good on ya!” Chocolate. That was the flavour of ice cream he had chosen.
A car drove up the street and parked outside number 26. “Hi Gran!” The sound of Kyle`s voice interrupted his thoughts. Paul took a deep breath and closed his eyes again. It seemed like a lifetime ago, yet he could see it so clearly. His own Gran waiting for him in the driveway of number 26 the day he got his driver’s licence, smiling at him, telling him how proud she was, and repeating over and over again that he needed to be careful, drive safely. His mom had already been gone several years by then, and Gran had been living with them ever since. What a strong woman she was. Taking on a family of five while grieving the loss of her daughter. Gran was his moral compass. His mentor. His role model.
“I miss you.” he whispered.
-“Did you say something, darling?”
Paul turned around and saw Terese standing next to her dresser, taking off her earrings. He had been so caught up I his own thoughts that he hadn`t heard her coming.
-“Nah.” He said, smiling at her. “Just thinking out loud.”
Terese took her shoes off and walked over towards him.
-“Inspecting your kingdom?” she said and looked at him with eyes sparkling with laughter.
“Yes!” he laughed and pulled her closer. It wasn`t the first evening they had stood like this. Leaning against the balcony door, in their own little bubble. Not to be seen from the street, hidden by the dancing curtains. He had his arms wrapped around her, his chin resting on the top of her head. Paul took a deep breath, let Terese, all of her, fill his senses. She leaned back into him as he kissed her neck, her shoulder, her cheek.
-“Oh no!!! Way to kill the mood!” Terese`s laughter was contagious as he heard Karl singing “Flame trees”, and at the same time wrestling his guitar, ruining Cold Chisel completely! So much for thinking it was going to be a quiet night on Ramsay Street.
Paul heard the front door being shut, and saw Roxy walking out the driveway, and across the street. “Look at our niece sneaking out late at night.” he said, and heard Terese laugh again. “Our” niece? You`re just a big softie, aren`t you?”
-“Don`t tell anyone!”
-“Young love.” Terese looked at him. Paul loved the way Terese looked at him. Like se saw him, all of him. Everything he was and everything he could be. Everything he wanted to be. For her, for them. “Haven`t you ever sneaked out at night, hoping for a kiss from the cutest girl on the street?”
It was on this very street he got his first kiss. At a birthday party for Des. He was 13, and couldn`t remember her name. It didn`t matter. A vague, but precious memory. The idea of kissing anyone but Terese was unthinkable, and it had been for years. He had settled, finally. Here, on this street, he had settled.
-“ I don`t have to sneak out for a good night kiss anymore.” he said. “I`m already happily married to the cutest girl on the street!”
Terese turned around to face him, still wrapped in his arms.
“How about an early night? She asked. “Knowing you, you`ll probably be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow, prepping for that lunch meeting!”
Paul knodded. –“You know me too well!”
Terese caressed his neck and ran her finger over that small scar on his chin.
“Tell me something I don`t know.” she said. “Tell me how you got this scar?”
Paul smiled before he placed a soft kiss on her lips.
“An old sports injury:” he answered.
“Got it playing cricket, right here on Ramsay Street.”