My Writing Portfolio

You are reading reading through my collection of short stories and poetry. No portions of this content may be used or published elsewhere, in print or digitally, without without my express permission.

© I. A. Phillips

February 15th

Still half asleep he nearly tripped over his own legs as he got out of bed, his head throbbing. The bedroom was dark enough that he had to make his way to the bathroom out of habit instead of sight. The building pressure in his waist was screaming at him to go faster, but the pain flared whenever he took a step too quickly. Walking became a balancing act as he took the dozen steps to the door. He knew whatever pain he felt was because he forgetfully rushed to bed. Too distracted to think clearly, he flipped the bathroom lights on blinding himself. Some part of him gurgled; the glimpse of the room would have to be enough. Eyes tightly closed he stumbled around the tub to the toilet, pressure still growing. He really should have thought before going to bed.

He didn’t have time to ease onto the freezing toilet seat, quickly sitting down. Panic over, he realized his eyes had adjusted, and he began looking around as the pain slowly faded. His attention was drawn to the sink and its faucet. The sight made him realize how dry and sore his throat was. His whisky breath stung his nose. The familiar smell made him feel guilty. They ended last night with drinks and movies. Worried that he was going to dry out his throat again she made him promise he would drink some water before bed. According to the aching dryness in his mouth he had forgotten to follow through. He would have angrily groaned if it didn’t hurt to try. They believed promises should not be made lightly. The bathroom clock read 1:03. He hadn’t slept for long, an hour at most. This time his pounding head didn’t bother him as much as his throat. If he had drunk more it would have been the opposite. Slightly amused at how he could have been in more pain, he stood up and began going to the kitchen. He would need some water before he could go back to bed.

Turning off the lights as he left, he entered the hallway. It was gently lit by a plug-in night light, outlining the nearby hazards. He wished he bought a second for his bathroom. Passing the couch, he saw that he did remember to turn off the TV, but he had still forgotten about his other promise. The digital light on the microwave was the only thing illuminating the tiny kitchen. That gave his readjusted eyes enough light to find everything. Opening the cabinet next to the microwave he grabbed the nearest cup and began feeling out where the sink head was angled. Before he could turn on the faucet, he felt chilling eyes glaring at him from the dark. His waist had a faint aftershock, remembering the pain from earlier. Turning around he saw movement in the living room and heard the springs on the couch bounce. The anxiety was enough to make him forget about his sore throat. He began softly walking towards the couch. Her outline was faintly visible under the large blanket. She was probably angry about him forgetting about the water.

He looked over at her lying on the coach, unresponsive to his presence. He placed his cup next to the shot glasses on the table and began leaning over to where the pillow was. He tried to pull back the blanket but hearing him approach she moved towards the edge of the couch, out of his reach. It was her version of the silent treatment. Defeated, the man stepped around to the front of the couch, dragging his feet against the wood, so she’d know where he was. The blanket tightened at the sound. He tried to whisper a question, but the words tore at his throat, and he stopped. Unsure what to do, he sat down in front of her, leaning onto the couch near her head, and waited for her to decide the next move.

The blanket shifted, exposing her head. He could smell the whisky on her breath. She moved closer to the man until their faces were less than a foot away. She was too deliberate to be drunk. He tried to speak again and felt her gaze harden after he choked on the words. Embarrassed and guilty he looked away. Turning back to face her, he wondered how important that promise was to her. Still watching, he rested his head against the couch and tried to touch her hand through the blanket in a wordless apology. She didn’t respond.

Gradually she moved her hand under his, allowing him to touch her. The man continued to wait, giving her time to choose what happens next. After a few minutes the woman sat up. The man followed and sat next to her on the couch. Her gaze was softer than before, but still angry. He beat himself up about forgetting she fell asleep on the couch. If he was quieter, he may not have been caught. Sad that he had hurt her, he moved closer and wrapped her in his arm before trying to speak again. At his raspy mention about the water, he could feel her shrink into herself and start to cry. It was too strong of a response to be about the water. She was embarrassed about the real reason. Wrapping both her arms around him tightly, she kept him close. He held her gently back. Composing herself she leaned further into him, trying to find the words to explain. He did care. He was trying to keep him promise about the water, but he never promised to do what she really wanted. But they hadn’t mentioned it either, so how could he? He could tell she felt betrayed, but he didn’t know what to say to make everything better. So, wordlessly he took her hand and pulled her close whenever she began to sink down, showing her he was still there for her.

The two sat silently together until she pulled away, back into the blanket. She was on the verge of tears again, embarrassed and ashamed of herself. He obviously cared about her. He found one of the spare blankets to tuck her in after she fell asleep. And he tried to keep his promise once he remembered. The woman felt weak and childish. She never told him about what she wanted before then. She knocked over the empty whisky bottle after grabbing his cup. She didn’t know how to handle all the emotions, but she knew that she wanted him to keep his promise and handed him the cup. He understood and disappeared into the kitchen. Hearing the faucet run, she resumed trying to find the words to explain why she felt so hurt and betrayed. Tears began soaking into the blanket. If she just stayed awake, she could have asked to be carried to bed. To be treated like the girls in the movies they had just watched. She wanted the night to be idyllic. But she never told him and now she might have ruined the night by pitching her fit. If everything fell apart, would it be her fault? His? Would it matter? She was pulled out of her spiraling thoughts when he suddenly extended the cup to her. Surprised, she smiled and started to laugh. Laughing at her anger, her worries, and at him not understanding in the best way. She drank the water and placed it next to the sideways bottle before hugging him. In a soft embarrassed voice she spoke, “I-it’s not really tomorrow u-until the sun’s up. So... c-could we end tonight like that last movie?” He grinned. “I promise.”

The words said the two kissed as he reached down to pick her up. She melted into his chest smiling, allowing the blanket to fall from her. His body had stopped aching as he dramatically carried her to their room. Mimicking the movie as best as he could remember, he playfully lowered her into her side of the bed. She didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect. When he slid under the covers, she moved to his side for the most important part. They kissed each other goodnight before falling asleep in each other's arms. Whatever the clocks said was wrong; it wasn’t February 15th yet.

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