16 hours and 32 minutes. That’s 32 minutes and 15 seconds. 'Tick, tick’ ...I rolled onto my side away from the clock. I should stop counting. It’s not like counting sheep, you don’t fall asleep, instead you watch the hands pass by the numbers until collectively it all becomes a blur. Soon you feel your heart beating in time with them and it becomes an extension of yourself.
2 days. 2 days is what she’d given me to answer her question. I turned back again to look at the clock, ‘tick, tick’ I counted; I have 31 hours and 26 minutes left, that’s 26 minutes and 3, 2, 1…
The sound of my cell phone brought me back, seems I had fallen asleep after all. I turned my eyes away from the ceiling toward the wall where it sat andwatched me. It was still hanging on its back, its hands taking the same merry rout around it’s face. Though, they had moved quite a bit.
My thoughts were interrupted when I realised my phone was still ringing and I quickly sat up and reached over for it on the bed side.
“Reece?” I said with a muffled temper.
“We got a body…” his deep voice buried the sound of the clock andI took a few secondsfor my earsadjust.
“Ok, I’m on my way!” I said dryly making it evident I had been sleeping and ended the call before he could reply.
I hadn’t expected her to be there, Sophie I mean. I think she caught me looking at my watch, andchances are she would haveas I was doing it every few minutes. Nobody else would notice that mind, they wouldn’t of been paying attention like she was, thoughmore obvious in our silence was the tension between us. She knew this and smiled comfortably, whileI couldn’t even manage that!
The evidence was packed up and this part of our job was done for the time being. As I packed away the last of the evidence, she stood there watching me, obviously expecting something. Stern and somewhat ignorant I said nothing and started toward my car.
My feet shifted against the dry ground asI paused and considered how best to react, not yet able to turn around.
“Sara!” she called, this time using my first name.
“I’m going for a few drinks with the guy’s after shift, to celebrate my last few days. You’re welcome to join us.”
Celebrate? I bit my lip. She is celebrating leaving? “Ok… thanks!” I said simply and turned away knowing my hesitations probably stood for a lot more than my answer.
Holding my breath, I wound the window down.
“I forgot to tell you…” she looked at her watch “My shift ends in 2 hours”.
I nodded and she stepped away. I already knew this. She knew I already knew, her point in telling me was for another reason and she made it clear by looking at her watch. I drove home thinking about this, even counting how long the red light took before changing to green; approximately 25 seconds.
She was the one who’d told me no pressure, no expectations, but she had to expect something? A smile, a laugh or a simple glance, she knows they all mean so much more than anyone else cared to know. You see everything in colour, every moment is analyzed and noted whether it’s accountable or not and then if you are like me you wait and play these moments again and again just in case maybe you missed something important. But I never missed a second of it.
I pulled into the car park andknowing she would behere shortly too I rushed myself into a panic carrying everything under arms over shoulders and balancing palms. Nobody noticed my struggle as I marched down the corridors in search for the perfect place to hide.
And there I hid for as long as I could in an empty lab sifting through debris from the crime scene, I couldn’t let anything go a miss simply because I wasn’t as focused as normal. In fact the time passed quicker now that I was busy and sure enough the time came when she found me!
“Hey…” she spoke softly, her head poking around the lab door.
“Hi!” my voice was cheerful and of a higher pitch than I would’ve expected from myself.
“We’re off now for those drinks, are you about ready?”
“I just need to err… cross my T’s and I will be right there. You at Franky’s?” I asked.
Franky’s was our bar. The place we always went for breakfast after a hard graveyard shift, or just for a few beers. Sure, everyone from the labs went there, but it was still our place.
She looked instantly upset by my commentbut managed to answer in a clear voice, “Ok!”
We both knew that what I'd said probably meant I wouldn’t go and not because I didn’t want to be around her, just not while I was trying to find an answer to her big question. I watched her smile slip as she turned away and I felt my stomach sink at the thought of upsetting her.
“Soph!” I called her back.
“Huh?” her voice hadlowered into an emotional tremble.
“Give me 10 minutes.”
She smiled warmly at my confirmation and I smiled back assuring her, thinking to myself then ofhow I would replay this moment back again later. I always did!
So there I was falling out of my car, in thehopeI could keep to at least one promise but in a similar panic to running away from her a few hours ago I nowfound myself running to her.
That’s when I stopped dead in the street, my trousers scuffed at the knees and eyes streaming fromthe lack of sleep. I stood fondling my keys in my hand, my heart was thumping at the thought of disappointing her. There I realised that everything I'd been asking myself had been answered already. For a few desperate seconds I couldn't breath, asking myself over and over “What do I do now?”
10 seconds passed and I started to walk again. 16 minutes and 15 seconds late and I saw her at by bar, her mousey blonde hair let loose across her shoulders as she did when off shift. As I entered the entire bar drifted into the background. Only she noticed me walking in. Only she looked up and smiled.
“Hey, Sara!” she said with a sense of relief.
I stopped in front of her, suddenly weak at the knees and unable to move any closer. All I could do was shake my head at her apologetically “Sorry I’m a bit late!”
“What would you like?” she offered to buy me a drink.
“Nothing strong, I will have to get back to the lab later to finish up.”
“What?” she asked finally whilst playing nervously with the label on her bottle bud andstill managing to maintain eye contact. She begged for an answer to the look I was giving her.
She looked down at the bottlewhere the paper now sticking to her finger tips and then at the others still at the bar celebrating her leave, and then back at me. “I try to control it, sorry.”
“Lady’s, another one?” Cal interrupted, offering to get the next round. Neither Sophie or I looked up at him insteadour eye contact on each other remained constant and intense.
“No thanks, I have to get back to the lab” I tell him without looking away from her. I don’t know what Cal said or did after that, the only thing I could see was her. Everything
had stopped, time had stood still and I thought to myself then that if I were to lean inand kiss her nobody would notice… and as I lent forward…
"Sophie, Sara?" Cal called out with a kept irritation. He was still stood there expecting something from us!
“You know what, nothing, it’s Ok, forget it!” he grumbled and walked back toward the bar. The one thing about Cal, was that he obviously had a thing for Sophie.
Ashe left I thought about that kiss again, and as I lent in I felt her hand settle on my knee underneath the table.
“Wait… Not here” her hand squeezed my thigh lightly before letting go, leaving the warmth of her touch there.
“So, it’s back to the lab?” she huffed.
Time slowed down again as soon as I got back to work. But now things had changed, I knew what I wanted and I couldn‘t wait to tell her. The moment came when I was sat in my car in the parking lot, getting ready to go home. 17 hours and 43 minutes left. I had my answer, I knew now that I'd had it from the beginning, the real question I was asking myself was can I accept it. This question had been answered a few hours ago and now the time had come to stop, to stop counting.
Her hand knocked against the passenger window of my car making me jump. I reached over to open the door from the inside to let her in.
“I’m sorry about earlier…” I spoke at last.
“I shouldn’t ofwalked away, I‘m sorry!”
“Don’t be” she said bluntly.
We both paused again, this time looking at each other. I watched her lips part, her tongue wetting them before speaking.
“I can’t stop thinking about you. I can’t wait another 17 hours, thinking about whether you will pass me on my way out, or if you will be sitting in the staff room when I’m on my way in, or if I should just ignore you…” I took a deep breath and sighed “I tried that.”
“I know” there was a heartbeat “Tell me you want me to stay. Tell me not to go and I wont.”
“Ignoring it, I mean you, us. I can’t let you go. If you go I will go crazy.”
“Can I wait, you wouldn’t ask me that if you knew how I’ve been counting the seconds.”
She suppressed a smile, she knew very well I had been.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you blush” I told her.
“No?” she seemed surprised.
Ok so maybe I had seen her blush come to think of it but I teased her shaking my head at her playfully.
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