This is the continuation of The Insomniacs Book Club, first posted May 30, 2017.
The knock on the kitchen door was tentative, quiet as if the knocker really didn’t intend to be heard, wanted to be ignored and left to wander back to wherever they started, muttering under their breath about people being too wrapped up in their lives to pay attention to anyone else, the way that things had always gone.
“That would be Courtney,” said Bernice. Unfolding her legs, she shuffled to the door, ignoring stiff joints and muscles waking from deep slumber. She snapped on the light over the back door, pushed aside the curtain to see who was there. Forcing her face to smile, she opened the door.
Sam grunted, turned the page of her book to finish the sentence. It was a library book, due tomorrow (which already was today if she were literal about it which she might be if she were in an argument with her daughter). It was surprisingly good.
“Sorry to bother you,” the young woman stammered, hair twisted into frowsy pigtails.
“That’s okay,” yawned Bernice.
“I saw the lights on, wanted to make sure that everything is okay.”
“Oh. Good.” Courtney shifted in bright yellow garden clogs. Someone had painted awkward looping daisies across their tops.
Everything inside her shouted not to do it. Sighing, Bernice swung the door open wide.
“Can I make you a cup of tea — or hot chocolate?”
Courtney hugged a man’s stretched-out black wool cardigan tightly around her waist. “Oh, sure, okay, yeah. That would be great. I…well…I can’t sleep when Marc has to stay in the city, when he isn’t home, I mean. Well, I did fall asleep. On the couch. But then I woke up and couldn’t fall back to sleep so I went in the kitchen and looked over here and saw…”
Sam looked up from her book, finger holding her place. “In or out, sweetheart?”
Bernice shot her a look as she waved Courtney into the kitchen. “Come on in. This rude person is my best friend Sam. Sam, this is Courtney.”