scottish flora


You couldn’t sleep. Rafe was breathing faintly next to you, the occasional snore making you grin. You’d been awake so long your eyes had adjusted to the dark. You found yourself tracing the shape of the ceiling with your eyes, willing yourself back to sleep. But it didn’t work. You weren’t tired. You rolled onto your side, and looked at the almost transparent curtains draping over the two glass doors that opened onto the balcony. You bit your lip, and quietly reached over to check your phone. You’d turned on aeroplane mode; you hadn’t felt like connecting with people the entire day. You liked to recharge alone. Rafe was an exception though, you accepted his company whenever it was offered and open.

The night had just broken the midnight barrier, and you begged yourself to listen to that one song that so perfectly captured the countryside nightlife it made you feel unstoppable, free, weightless. You swept your hand across your bedside table until your fingers closed around the wires of your headphones. You peeled the blanket gently away from your legs, and you planted your feet on the ground. The rich texture of the carpet beneath your soles, between your toes - it was comforting. You plugged the little buds into your ears and hit the play button. You picked up Rafe’s winter coat from off the hook on the wall in your room, and shrugged it on over your thin night dress. You smiled back at your boyfriend, before quietly pulling down the door handle and slipping out into the open air.

Your legs were chilly, but your body was pleasantly warm. The moon grinned at you from the sky in its crescent shape, and you were compelled to smile back at the thought. Your eyes were drawn up to the stars, sprinkled sparingly across the sky, like God had no care for them and they were as common as diamonds. Your eyes lingered on Polaris, the North Star, and the thought of roaring flames and gases somewhere out in space had you brimming with intrigue and fascination. You spent some time scanning the sky for constellations. You found Ursa Major, with its significant ‘frying pan’ shape that was supposed to be the back end of a long-tailed bear. The astronomers before had rather wild imaginations, but you couldn’t exactly speak against that. Your imagination was equally untamed. You looked for the constellation representing yours and Rafe’s star signs, but they weren’t present in the fraction of sky you saw.

You hummed along to the music, the tempo suiting your mood. You clasped Rafe’s jacket tighter around you, finding comfort in the scent and sort-of-feel of him. It still had little petals and leaves from the Scottish flora and fauna sticking to the fabric and inside the pockets. You sighed, leaning against the balcony. Rafe’s country home was by far your favourite of his bases. The front drive was loose stones, but beyond that it was dirt tracks and forests and rivers. You heard the scrabbling of blunt claws against the glass, and you turned to see your rather large husky pawing for you. You quietly opened the door, and she squeezed through as soon as she was able to fit. She lapped at your hand with a rasped tongue. You sat in one of the lounging chairs, legs either side so your companion could sit between. You wrapped your arms around what was almost seventy-percent fluff, and rested your head on top of your husky’s. She let out a tiny bark, and you shushed her. She whined and tilted her head in a vain attempt to pepper your face with puppy kisses. You spluttered, but silenced when you heard footsteps nearing the door.

When Rafe drew back the curtain, you saw he’d cocooned himself in your blanket. A hand peaked out of where there was a gap in the wrapping to push the door open.
'Your not going to fit.’ You laughed, and he gave you a tired 'watch me’ look. 'You look like a burrito.’ You have to cover your mouth when he tries to squeeze through the door, and just bounces back instead. He finally unraveled himself and makes it through the door. He straddles the seat and sits behind you, letting you grip the corners of the blanket and wrap it around the three of you. You felt his arms snake around you waist inside the warmth of the blanket, and he rested his head on your shoulder.
'Why you up?’ He murmured.
'Couldn’t sleep. Did we wake you?’
He shook his head. 'I woke up alone.’
You pouted, turning your head and letting out a soft, sympathetic 'oh’. 'You want me to come back?’
He shook his head again, 'doggy will get jealous.’ He kissed your shoulder. You giggled at your tired boyfriend.
'Oh you’re right. But maybe she should be punished for being up past her bedtime. Maybe we should make her jealous.’ You pat your dog on the head. You feel Rafe smile.
'She’s not the only one up past her bedtime.’ He says.
'I’m allowed to be.’
'Hmm. Are you sure?’ You could feel Rafe looking at you.
'What, you going to punish me for that?’
'Maybe. Someone’s not getting breakfast in bed. Made by me and not the butler.’
'Rafe, you cannot cook. But I appreciate the gesture.’ You smiled, clasping the blanket shut with one hand, while the other laced with one of Rafe’s in your lap.
'Maybe I’ll punish you with the pancakes then. I’ll force you to eat burnt batter.’
'I’d still eat it. Just to spite you.’
'Well then how am I supposed to punish you? Wait-’
You lean forward as you laugh, the innuendo in his question mixed with the pure fatigue and innocence of his voice was strangely funny to you.
'How about I just come back to bed, hmm?’ You rub your thumb in a circular movement in his palm.
'I like that idea.’ He nuzzled against your neck, and you ushered the dog inside with you, finally locking the door and Serling in bed with Rafe. The chill abated almost immediately after you hit the mattress and covered yourselves, and soon after you found it much easier to fall asleep.