It was cold that evening, the way it only is in late winter or early spring when the frosty evening air bites at your heels and your lips and the back of your neck and you don’t mind half as much as you did two months ago because you can actually step outside without the wind puncturing your lungs. We talked, mostly in passing, throughout the night and shared locked gazes from one doorway to the next. The talk was neither too simple nor too complicated, but each word felt as if it was purposefully chosen to be heard through my ears. It was late by the time we said goodbye to the others and decided to leave. Still, we scuffed our shoes against the pavement on our way to the car, each moment prolonged by the zigzag of our steps—though from the champagne or the butterflies, I cannot recall.

With nowhere in particular to go, we drove the back roads. Up and down hills. Around long bends and beside bare trees. The night was dark and empty, filled with the good kind of quiet: the low engine hum, our breaths muddled with the car’s heat, stars twinkling in the sky above. Not even the radio interrupted our silence. As we pushed further into the woods, worry overcame me briefly. Had I misread something earlier? I asked if he still wanted to be there with me, or if… Before I could continue, he clasped his hand over mine. Both were cold, but as he stroked his thumb over mine, it was the warmest I had ever felt. Yes, he reassured me. I could have stayed in that moment for the rest of my life.

Then, just as soon as the night had begun, the darkness burned into light and the long road came to an end. We disembarked from the car, stepping into the early morning. A fresh chill bore into me and I pulled my jacket a bit tighter over my body. A café awaited our arrival on the other side of the snowy drive. There, one hot tea with milk and a coffee with a vanilla swirl filled two burnt orange ceramic mugs. We sipped them slowly from barstools at a corner table and wondered aloud where the night had gone. We knew, of course, that it had been stretched from one twist to another turn, and beyond.


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