Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Challenge Story

Author: Lou
Written for the Tea Room March 2010 Challenge 

*~*   *~*    *~*

Tim frowned.

"Does this smell right to you?"

Rob sniffed the proffered carton, his face contorting at the curdled milk.

"Congratulations, you made yoghurt', he said drily, and resigned himself to black coffee. His partner took another deep sniff and Rob shook his head. Tim was trusting in very many things, but dairy was not one of them.

Setting the milk on the counter, Tim braced a tanned arm on fridge and leant down to survey its hidden depths. Rob rocked back on his chair slightly and grinned at the view; Tim's jeans pulled nicely tight as he prodded at some mysterious Tupperware container on the lower shelf.

Facing the evidence of one too many evenings happily distracted by anything but shopping, Tim gave in to the inevitable.

"We need to shop."

The legs of the chair clattered back onto the tile and Rob groaned. "But it's Saturday!"

"Yeah? So?"

"There'll be kids everywhere!"

Tim smiled. "It's okay, honey, they're relatively harmless unless provoked."

"Easy for you to say: you're a teacher."

"And you're my Top; stop whining. Come on", he coaxed, dragging Rob from his seat, "On your feet and into battle. I'm driving."


Tim waggled his bum and laughed as Rob made ready use of the target and landed a playful slap across one cheek and dug his fingers into Tim's ribs, causing the man the screech and pull free, dashing out the door.

Rob shook his head as the cat made use of his warm and newly vacated chair, and
snatched the green bags from the back of the pantry door as he pocketed his
wallet. Scratching the grizzled tabby, he murmured, "You've got the right idea,

Looking over the roof of the car, Tim stuck his lip out in a comical pout at Rob's reluctance to face the Saturday masses, followed by a bark of laughter at the gesture directed his way. Rob tossed the shopping bags through to the back seat and jumped in as Tim put the car into reverse.

A sudden sickening crunch of metal dragging on concrete had Tim hitting the brakes in a panic. Rob pulled on the handbrake as his partner leapt from the driver's seat and rushed to the rear of the car. Rob saw his face pale and realised why as he caught sight of the brightly coloured plastic and metal twisted under the bumper bar, and the dislocated spokes of the small wheel.

Rob dropped to his knees, blood pounding in his head as he anticipated a small broken form. Searching under the car with hands and eyes, he felt a wave of almost sickening relief when it became clear there was no child. Sitting back on one heel, he tried to catch his breath. Jesus. His next thought turned to his partner who was gasping.

"Love, love it's okay. It's okay, just a trike. Some kid's left his fucking trike in the drive."

He stood on all too shaky legs and reached out an arm to reassure Tim that all was well as the man bent at the waist and vomited onto the warm concrete at his feet. Rob encircled him with his arms and steered him away from both the mess and the ruined toy, before pulling him down onto the lawn and into his lap.

"It's okay, it's okay. I've got you. Shh. I've got you."

Tim curled into Rob's body and his voice cracked as he sobbed, "I could have killed someone's kid! Rob? I could have-"

Rob hugged him fiercely and rocked back and forth, not giving a damn for the neighbours who had gathered on verandas and behind twitching curtains as the all too rare drama unfolded in the street. "Shh, you didn't. No one is hurt. Tim, look at me", he said ducking his head and raising Tim's chin so he could look at the pain-filled eyes of the man he loved, "No one is hurt. Breathe for me, honey."

Continuing to cradle to trembling and distraught man, Rob glanced at the trike again. Turning away, Mrs McNeely caught his eye as she leant over the fence, anxiety overcoming a natural reluctance to intrude. "Pet?"

Not wanting to think about anyone but Tim, Rob waved a hand and reassured her as he gathered Tim's long legs and braced himself to heft the man into his arms. Making his way slowly up the lawn with his burden clinging tightly around his neck; Rob left his neighbour tuttering her concern and best wishes.

The End

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