Prompt: "He kicked a rock"

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Scarlet blinked. "It's awfully dark out here," she said as Vincent closed the door behind them.

He nodded. "I couldn't come and, uh, get you until after work."

"You have a job?" She spun around on the heel of her now out-of-fashion black boot, her messy auburn hair swinging around behind her. Her eyes were wide, like a child just discovering a dark corner in its closet where goblins might lurk.

"Yeah," he said quietly, "Disappointed?"

She blinked again. "What kind of job."

Somewhere in the alleyway a pair of cats screeched and yowled at one another. Vincent couldn't tell if they were about to fight, or do something else.

"I can quit if you want. Now that you're back--"

"What kind of job?" she demanded, grabbing his bare upper arm. Her nails dug into his skin.

"Postal worker." He said it with distaste.

Scarlet let go of his arm and stepped back, looking dazed. The heel of her boot caught on a jutting piece of cobblestone. Vincent reached out to catch her.

He'd brought her back, only to nearly kill her with shock. He was such an idiot!

"Are you all right?" he asked, "Do you need to sit down?"

Scarlet shook her head. Was she answering? And, if so, which question?

"Come on," he said, "Let's get home." He offered her his arm, and she took it.

They stepped out onto [street name]. In daylight, it would be filled with vendors hawking their wares, but now all the shops were closed up tight and wooden signs had been taken inside so that they wouldn't be stolen or vandalized. Some had even rolled up their awnings to avoid waking up with beggars on their doorsteps.

As they walked to the end of the alley, Scarlet's walk regained its composure. "Where do we live now? These streets seem..." her voice trailed off.

"We're in West [city name] now. It was the only place I could afford."

"I thought they paid postal workers better than--"

"They do." He kicked a pebble down the street in front of them. "I needed the money for something else."

Scarlet let go of his arm and stopped walking again. "It was to bring me back," she said, "Wasn't it?"

Vincent looked down into her eyes. Somehow they shone in the blackness as if there had been a moon. He swallowed. "Yes, ma'am."

A sad smile spread across her features, and though she blinked fiercely, as she'd taught him to do, tears rolled down her cheeks. "You're a better son than any woman could hope for."

Vincent's throat closed up and he had the sudden urge to run back and puke all over the pair of cats that were fucking behind the garbage heap in the alley.

"Thank you," he said and took her hand to lead her into the darkness.


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