The Least Unremarkable Visitor

Submitted into Contest #179 in response to: End your story with a kiss at midnight.... view prompt


Fiction Romance

Grant is a middle child. That is to say, he was born after his brother and before his sister. 

Now at the age of 43 Grant supposed he wasn’t a child of any kind really. Except, he still felt like a child. Not in the ‘seeing the wonder in the snowy hills outside the dirty window’ kind of way, but in the out of his depth, barely understanding what the adults in his life were talking about, being utterly clueless about fashion and always looking forward to 3:15pm so he could go home from school kind of way.

Grant had liked being the middle child, not old enough to “ought to know better” and yet not young enough to be “too young for that”. In fact, Grant had enjoyed being the middle child so much that he had let it shape his personality entirely, content to always be just average - never overachieving and yet not underachieving either, if he could help it. Stable and dependable. That is how others would describe Grant if asked. Not that he’d ever ask of course, it wouldn’t do to be drawing that much interest toward his identity. 

And that was precisely how Grant had continued in to his adult life. A string of perfectly respectable and pleasant girlfriends who were nice to be around but never too nice as to leave a great big tear in his heart when they inevitably moved on; one steady job as a school caretaker that paid enough to cover the bills but offered no onward progression that he could be reluctantly steered toward by his family; and a small and square 2 bedroom house with cream walls and grey sofas and a marginally comfortable double bed and a beige kitchen. And this is exactly how Grant had planned to stay.

But tonight, on New Year’s Eve of all eves, everything would begin to change.

Grant had settled himself in on his grey sofa with his brown sandwich in his square house to watch some mild entertainment and fall fast asleep well before midnight like any respecting middle child turned middling adult should. With Jools Holland introducing act after act and skit after skit Grant began to feel his eyes droop as he saw in this new year the same as the last 10 - alone and very slightly too cold because as far as he was concerned heating was an unnecessary expense for one man living alone.

Minutes, or possibly hours later Grant woke with a start. For a brief moment he had no idea what had brought him so abruptly out of his slumber, but as his surroundings began to come back to him he noticed two things. The first being that Ed Sheeran’s new song - now being crooned from the TV by Ed himself - was utterly unremarkable and therefore something Grant would thoroughly enjoy. The second however, was much less unexpected and therefore; much less welcome. 

There was someone pounding at Grant’s door. 

Grant remained perfectly still hoping that whoever it was - Probably drunk revellers he thought - would simply get bored and move along. However, after the sixth bout of loud and frankly obnoxious knocks at the door he realised that this may not be a problem so easily avoided. Slowly, Grant left the grey sofa and made his way to the door. As he opened it he found a woman stood there, with a large wolfhound at her feet. She was in her mid-40’s at a guess, panting as though she’d run a marathon and - most notably - appeared to be the least unremarkable woman Grant had ever laid eyes on. 

“You’re not Anna” she blurted out between heavy breaths.

“There’s no… Anna here” Grant stuttered, entirely taken aback by this mystery visitor.

“There is, I’m sure I remember her address, she gave me it years ago, said if I ever needed anything… Hang on I have it here on a napkin.” With this, the woman began to rifle through the seemingly endless pockets in the brown leather jacket draped around her shoulders. The jacket looked to be at least as old as she was, and had patches and multicoloured mending stitches sprawled over the entire surface. Her hair was bright pink and she had strange symbols tattooed all over her hands and behind her ears in the small sections of her neck Grant could see as she swished around searching for the aforementioned napkin. What sort of person keeps important information on a napkin? Grant wondered.

The longer she searched stood there on his threshold, Grant found he could not bring himself to look away from this intriguing woman. He was totally engrossed in her movements and suddenly realised with no small amount of surprise, that he was completely enthralled by her. She had this unexplainable air of utter chaos, and yet complete content. It was both terrifying and absolutely irresistible. Eventually, she gave up looking for the napkin “Alright I can’t find it, and maybe she wasn’t here after all. Come to think of it, she might’ve said she was living in Sweden, not Scotland.” Sweden? “Oh bugger it. Look, you may not be Anna, this may not be Sweden, but I am broken down and I desperately need a wee and it is raining” So it is thought Grant absentmindedly “…and these shoes aren’t waterproof, and my heating won’t work because I’m out of diesel in the spare tank, and you seem like a nice bloke who probably won’t kill me or watch me on the bog or anything, so please, please could I come in for a toilet break and maybe even a cuppa? I promise Doug won’t wee or anything, he’s only just had one, he can just go out on the street whenever he needs one lucky bugger.”

Grant was finding it hard to concentrate on her words that seemed to come tumbling out all on top of one another.


“The dog. Doug the dog, right? He might look scary but he’s a big softy really and he’d be sure glad of a bit of warmth, same as me.” She finally paused, and looked up at Grant expectantly.

Despite every middling, safe, comfortable instinct in his body telling Grant to find an excuse and quickly shut the door, Grant found himself saying “Umm, sure.” 

Before he even knew what was happening Grant found a lead thrust in to his hand - the dog on the other end looked at him as if he knew that Grant was entirely out of his depth. The bewildering lady had run back to the opposite side of the street to a battered old work van that was bright yellow and seemed to have leaves and vines painted all over by someone with only the slightest idea of how to wield a paintbrush. She grabbed a plastic bottle with some ominous looking dark red liquid inside that looked frighteningly like homemade red wine, some chocolate bars on which the writing was decidedly not English and a set of keys with the largest fluffy keyring Grant had ever seen. She noticed him gaping at the van.

“This is Sheila, she’s my pride and joy, and my home. Been living in her for four years now with Doug, done 26 countries so far and ain’t planning on stopping anytime soon. You ever done much travelling?” By now she had locked ‘Sheila’ and was removing her soaked shoes to reveal equally soaked spotted socks underneath in Grant’s beige carpeted hallway. Inexplicably, for the first time in his life Grant found himself wishing that his house wasn’t quite so average. 

“Umm, travelling? Not really.”

“Oh you should, best thing I ever did. Quit my job, bought my beauty, kitted her out and just started to drive. It’s bliss, it really is. Course, every now and then you do find yourself banging at some stranger’s door hoping they’ll be good enough to help you out but mainly, I’m living the free life. Talking of helping me out, where’s that loo of yours?” She flashed him a winning smile under a pierced and ringed nose.

Grant pointed “Oh, up the stairs, to the left”

“You’re an angel you are. Oh, I’m Katherine by the way, but everyone calls me Kit” She bounded lightly up the stairs leaving Grant with only Doug the dog - and the unexpected feeling that he wanted to do whatever he could to learn more about Kit - for company. 

As if in a kind of trance Grant placed the end of the lead on the coffee table and slowly padded to the kitchen to fill the kettle for teas. He hoped Kit wouldn’t mind a decaf, it was late after all. She skidded in back from the bathroom just as Grant was turning off the tap and exclaimed “I forgot how big and overly shiny house bathrooms are! This calls for some wine, my friend in Bosnia makes it. Ah, forget the kettle, you in?”

Under any other circumstances Grant would be utterly appalled at the idea of a stranger in his house, let alone one with a large dog and unlicensed alcohol, but there was something about Kit that made this feel much more like an adventure than an inconvenience. He was just turning to get two (very dusty) wine glasses from the cupboard when Kit grabbed him by the arm and said “You don’t have to you know, I can get out of your hair and head to the van and never bother you again, you’ve been good enough already. But… might be nice to get to know a little more about my saviour, I bet you have so many interesting stories. I’d love to hear them all!”

Grant didn’t know how he could ever interest someone like her but he knew he wanted to try, wanted desperately for her to think he was more than average, more than normal, more than… middling. “Of course you can stay” he said “There’s a spare bed too, if you don’t have heating in your… house. Not sure I’m very interesting though…” he tailed off defeatedly, convinced he’d overdone the hospitality and entirely frightened her away. But she surprised him, again.

“If you’re sure you don’t mind, that’d be great, I'll even make really terrible pancakes and really good coffee in the morning and I’ll do the dishes too!”

Grant laughed, actually laughed, and felt his shoulders relax more than he could ever remember them doing before. Kit was pouring 2 large measures in the the glasses and handed one to Grant. “It’s best to get the first glass down super quick, makes the rest taste a bit less awful” she laughed. They clinked their glasses together and Kit finished hers in a matter of seconds. Not wanting to look boring, Grant followed suit. The wine was harsh and strong, and Grant surprised himself by actually quite enjoying the sensation. The next 2 rounds followed the first in much the same manner and just as they were taking the first sip of their fourth glass each - Grant couldn’t remember the last time he’d had four glasses of wine - the crowds on the TV began to count down from 10. Grant went to the clock on the mantelpiece. It was almost midnight.

“You’ve got to have a midnight kiss for saving me you know.” Kit laughed breathlessly from right behind Grant "Unless there’s someone else who’s kisses you’re after..?” 

Grant hadn’t kissed anyone in months, hadn’t felt the need. But there was a need now, a deep need he wasn’t accustomed to feeling so strongly. Perhaps it was the wine. Or perhaps it was this beautifully intriguing woman standing so close behind him. “There’s… no one” he whispered nervously as he turned to face her. 

As they made eye contact, suddenly Kit seemed to realise what she had said and took a very small step back. “God, sorry, I’ve no idea what’s come over me, I don’t go kissing random men all the time you know, not that you’ve any reason to believe me of course, but it’s true you know, I’m not some kind of crazy person, honestly. I’ve no idea why I said that, I mean, I’d like to kiss you, a lot actually, but if you don’t want to, or whatever, I won’t mind, I won’t be upset. Unless you do want to, then I’m definitely giving permission, but if you don’t, that’s fine too…”

He couldn’t believe it, didn’t know what had happened inside him. For the first time he could remember Grant found himself taking the lead, making the decision. He leaned in, looking in to her eyes which he now realised were the bluest he’d ever seen and carefully, purposely wrapped his arm around her waist. Just as their lips touched fireworks began all over the city.

Grant had never believed in fate, never believed in true love or soulmates, in things like throwing caution to the wind, like running away in a van and living in freedom. But Grant had never believed in himself either, and perhaps it was time to start.

January 06, 2023 15:56

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Tricia Shulist
20:31 Jan 09, 2023

That was a nice story. The way that the two of the. Are so different, but compliment something in the other. Thanks for this.


Emma Pike
07:29 Jan 10, 2023

Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it!


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