“I still say Muskrat Love was the seminal piece of acoustic art to come out of the 1970’s…” Nevaeh argued as they climbed the long winding stair, lanterns swinging and casting odd shadows in the lighthouse’s stairwell. It was an enclosed stair, unlike some houses they’d visited where a climber could look down from the ever more dizzying heights as they climbed.

Sam was breathing too hard to answer her, but it didn’t matter. She was off on one of her monologues about the deterioration of popular music in general, and didn’t expect him to contribute to the conversation. He tried to keep his eyes on the stairs, but they kept straying to the long white legs in front of him. The legs that had been wrapped around him just a few weeks ago.

Nevaeh had declared their one and only sexual encounter a “huge embarrassing mistake” and suggested they forget it ever happened and go back to being friends. Sam, hopelessly in love, didn’t know what to say. He’d just gone along with her, laughing it off even though his heart was breaking inside.

Her voice trailed off ahead and he realized she had put on a burst of speed. She was out of sight, halfway gone up and around the ever-winding stairs. “…but the Captain and Tennille…” she was saying, but he couldn’t make out the rest. It sounded like “made chicken with bisquick beans” but he was pretty sure that’s not what she said.

“Oh my god! This was totally worth it!” Nevaeh exclaimed when he finally joined her at the top. The sun was barely peaking above the watery horizon, its light already brightening the coastline.

It was a perfect moment. He should put his arms around her. It was cold…that was a good excuse. But would she laugh him away? Would it make her uncomfortable?

Sam just stared at her as she stared at the sunset. Then she shivered, and he instinctively reached out, wrapping his arms around her.

“Thanks.” She said. It was a single word, almost impossible to interpret the tone. But Sam knew her well. Even with no words, he’d know what she was thinking. It was the exact same “thanks” she would have given him if he’d handed her something she’d dropped.

He savored the moment anyway. When she squirmed as if to move, he held her there, and she acquiesced. Without looking, he knew her brow was furrowed, wondering why he was keeping her there.

She was already halfway gone, relegating their love to just friendship. He had to get them back to where he’d thought they’d been headed all along, with the sweet and perfect kind of love immortalized in 70’s pop.

“It wasn’t a mistake,” he said softly, rocking ever so gently with her in his arms, both of them facing the sunrise.

For once, Nevaeh didn’t immediately answer.

But she didn’t pull away either.

This was written for the Write at the Merge prompt for week 26. Mandy joked that she wanted to prompt us with Muskrat Love and lanterns, but decided instead to use an acoustic version of Lifehouse’s Halfway Gone and a lighthouse.

I took them all. I’m greedy that way.

My biggest question: is it OK for this to feel like the beginning of a story (or the end) instead of being a complete story in and of itself?