Sneak Peek into The Enigma

Chapter 2

The day was almost over. Sixth period was journalism, an elective course that Katey needed the credits for in order to graduate. She had her pick of other electives, but she knew the teacher to be laid back and he let his students do practically anything besides journalism assignments. They cranked out a newsletter probably only every other quarter, but even that was a hit or miss. Many of the other students in the class were there for the same reason that Katey was: free time.

Today, she chose to sit and read To Kill A Mockingbird, which she knew would be the subject of her next English test. Might as well get it over with, she thought.

When the class was almost over, several of the other senior girls in the class came over to Katey’s desk and gathered around like a group of vultures waiting for their next meal. This particular group of girls never bothered to talk or associate with Katey. So, she closed her book and crossed her arms over her chest to regard each of them with wariness.

“Hey Katey. The senior class is having a party tonight outside of town for the comet. You want to come?” said Toni, a skinny blonde sitting on top of the desk in front of Katey. The others watched her intently, waiting for her answer.

It seemed odd for Katey to be approached with such an offer, since she had never hung out or socialized with Toni and her entourage before. Her eyes scanned over their friendly expressions and didn’t detect any hint of hidden conspiracy.

“Sure. What time?” Katey asked, trying to seem unperturbed by their offer. They gave her both the time and directions with a hastily drawn map just before they scattered at the sound of the bell.

Katey had half a mind to crumble up the paper and throw it away in one of the trashcans in the hall. Toni and her crew couldn’t have genuinely wanted Katey to come to the party. Maybe they had extended the invitation on the basis of a bet? Someone dared Toni to invite her and perhaps she would get something in return for Katey actually showing up?

Or, perhaps it was all a trick and there really was no party. She would be standing there alone and become the joke of the senior class for a few weeks. Naturally suspicious of people she didn’t know, Katey was inclined not to go to the party at all purely because Toni invited her.

But, there was a subtle nudge in the back of her mind that told her maybe this was genuine after all. Maybe a party was just the thing to pull her out of her emotional lethargy?

While sorting away textbooks and binders in her locker for the weekend, she debated back and forth on the wisdom to go or not to go. Katey had a few hours to decide. If all else failed, she could go out to the party, scout around for anyone she knew and if she found someone she could safely cling to for the evening, she would stay. If not, she might as well do something that she’d been wanting to do for a while; going on that trek in the woods.

As Katey walked out to the parking lot, she saw Mr. Myers crouching next to his gray Nissan sedan. He was working hard with a manual pump to inflate a tire that was so flat the rim was sitting on the pavement.

Hardly understanding what drove her to do so, Katey silently walked up beside him with her hands shoved in her hoodie pockets and watched him fumble around and curse under his breath.

It didn’t take long for him to realize he had an audience. Mr. Myers stopped and finally looked up at her. His eyes, once again baffled Katey as they changed shades of brown and gold. But she tried not to show the flash of bewilderment in her face.

“Hey Katey. Do you need something?” he asked, out of breath.

She shook her head. “Nope. Do you need any help?” she asked, tilting her head to the side that made him give her a crooked half-smile.

“I wouldn’t take help from a student. I’m good.” He turned back to his tire and examined it as if waiting for it to magically fix itself.

Katey didn’t know if she should have been offended by his show of pride. If another teacher had come up to him – Mr. Dubose, perhaps – would he have accepted their help over hers? Why would Mr. Myers be so choosey?

“I’ve got a spare in my jeep for my foster mom’s car. They’re about the same size. I’ve never used it and I’m sure I won’t need it any time soon.” Katey gestured her thumb to her jeep that happened to be parked in the next row of cars. The SUVs from that morning were gone, leaving plenty of room.

He looked between her, the flat tire, and her jeep, obviously deliberating on whether to take her help or not. Finally, he sighed and gave in with a nod.

“Remind me to give you extra credit later,” he said as they took the spare tire out of the back of her jeep.

Katey shook her head. “You don’t need to. I’ve got a passing grade in your class.”

They rolled it across the parking lot as other students watched and whispered. Rumors might spread, but Katey could have cared less. She was being useful to someone and that’s all that mattered.

“Then I’ll pay you back for the spare,” he said as he jacked up the car and Katey prepared to change out the tires. For once, she was glad for the driver’s education training she took a few summers ago, otherwise, she might not have had a clue about what to do.

“Don’t worry about it. When you get a new one, just give me this tire back or something. How’d your tire go flat anyway?” she asked as he fixed the new tire into place.

He seemed hesitant to tell her. “I must have run over a screw on a dirt road. I didn’t realize it was flat until yesterday, but it seemed stable. I’m not a big fan of motorcars.”

Katey’s attention snagged on the way that he referred to cars as motorcars, rather than a vehicle. It was such an outdated term. Mr. Myers only appeared to be in his mid to late twenties, if that at all. He was much too young to use words like that.

Mr. Myers finished up tightening the bolts one by one. Katey didn’t think he was that strong, but it took forever for him to tighten each bolt to the point he couldn’t tighten it anymore.

He finished changing out the tire, slipped the flat one into his trunk and thanked her graciously as he climbed behind the driver’s seat.

Katey didn’t walk away just yet. She was focused on his eyes, watching for that shift in color like she had seen earlier. However, they remained the same muddy amber hue they always had been.

Her staring did not go unnoticed. “Yes, Katey?” Mr. Myers asked as he revved up the engine.

Katey shook her head and walked off, hoping that he didn’t think her to be a little off her rocker. She barely cared about what her contemporaries thought of her, but she couldn’t stand the idea of one of her favorite teachers having an ill-conceived idea that she was odd.

“Nothing. Have a nice weekend,” she called back as she ran to her own car. Katey started up the engine as soon as he pulled off school grounds.

 

***

 

Katey parked in front of the bookstore. Beth was standing out front smoking a cigarette. When Katey angled out of her car, her friend threw the cigarette down and ground it into the red brick sidewalk with her heel.

“You’re a little late,” Beth remarked as they walked into the store.

“Yeah, sorry. I got held up at school. Are you going to that comet party tonight?” Katey asked as they entered the back storeroom to don her apron and name tag.

“Not really planning on it. Are you?” Beth asked as she pulled out her phone to check if her boyfriend had texted her. They’d only been dating for a few months now, but they talked constantly over text or chat. Katey had the misfortune of accompanying them on a date and they were sickeningly cute together. She envied their happiness.

“Some people invited me and I figured I’d go, even if it’s just for a little while.”

“What does your mom think about it?” Beth asked, shooting her a cagey look.

“Why should I care what she thinks?” Katey muttered, careful to keep the venom out of her tone at the thought of Mary.

“Well, wouldn’t she be worried about you staying out so late?”

“You know Mary doesn’t give a rip about what I do or don’t do anymore.” Katey sighed as she led the way out of the backroom.

The store was relatively empty most of the day. Occasionally their usual customers would come in, browse the same section of books and leave. The walls were painted in earth tones with new brown carpeting that the owner installed a few months before. They were still in the process of reorganizing the shelves after the upheaval. Books and magazines were shelved along the walls with half a dozen rows of bookcases in the center. The owner of the store sat up in the front and manned the cashier’s desk if he wasn’t in his office.

Beth peered at Katey. “I don’t know if I believe that sometimes.”

Katey shrugged and began shelving books from a donation bin. “She’s just a foster mother. She gets those tax breaks just to feed me and keep a roof over my head, not to care if I’m out carousing at some lame party.”

“I know, but it’s still kind of messed up. Do you think you’ll move out after graduation?” Beth joined her in shelving the books.

Katey’s lips tightened into a thin line. “I don’t know. I don’t have anywhere to go yet. I don’t make enough to afford my own apartment or anything. I already looked.”

“Well, you know if I didn’t have my two siblings I’d let you stay with me.”

“I know and thanks for the offer,” Katey replied and gave her an assuring smile.

Even if it were possible, Katey wasn’t sure she’d want to move in with Beth. It’d be such a crowded house with a big family like hers and it would take her a while to get used to having so many people around. Not only that, but Katey didn’t want to risk the friendship that she and Beth had. They were good friends, but knowing too much about one another probably would have caused dissention between them.

In the back of her mind was the nagging warning to not let anyone close, to keep her distance and not screw things up with her sour mood swings. For now, it was better to live alone; at least until this phase passed.

 

***

 

Katey followed the paper signs that were posted on the side of the road as she drove out of town. For the first time in a long time, she felt something. Butterflies. She’d never been to a party like this before and hardly knew what to expect.

She nearly missed the turn down the dirt road and came upon what would have been a beautiful open field. Cars and trucks were parked along the outside of the field near the tree line while a bonfire roared in the center. It looked like half of the senior class turned out for the party.

She could already hear the loud music that blared from someone’s stereo system, the obnoxious laughter, and hysterical chatter. The butterflies metamorphosed into vicious beetles that clawed at her nerves. She didn’t want to be here at all.

Katey slung her hands deep into her hoodie pouch and stepped out into the cold night air. She meandered around, searching for a friendly, familiar face. She knew Beth wouldn’t be here, but there were still other girls she hung out with on a regular basis at school that might be seen at an event like this.

It was a total scene of debauchery with students smoking and getting drunk off the cheap beer someone brought in kegs and distributed from the back of their pickup truck. Some couples were dancing, but the rest were mingling. No one noticed her, the outcast lurking in the shadows just beyond the rim of firelight.

The party was supposedly for the comet, but it was turning out to be just another excuse to pass the time in a boring town on Friday night. The moon was already making its appearance above the jagged tree tops and they would all miss the big event that only came every eighteen years.

Katey couldn’t find a single person she knew well enough to talk with. With a huff of frustration, she went back to her jeep and sped away from the party. On the bright side, no one would even know if she was there so there would be no embarrassment come Monday morning.

There were not that many places to go in Crestucky. There was a movie theater that played only outdated shows, a skating rink, and a bowling alley, but all those things seemed about as interesting as the party she left behind.

Then a thought entered her mind and she smiled.

Katey made her way back into town and turned off onto a sparsely populated road. It wound for miles until pavement became dirt and trees closed in on either side. They called to her, beckoning for her to explore their dark depths.

A few miles more and she found herself at a dead end and a cemetery. It was a place she had been to a few times before, but not for the reason most visited there.

Katey always thought graveyards to be peaceful places and lately, it was the most logical place for her to be. Her spirit felt as dead as the corpses that had been lain to rest in the ground. If anyone were to walk past her, they’d think she were mourning over a loved one and leave her alone.

And tonight, she needed solitude. There were too many things to think about and home was not the place for quite meditation. Mary made that house like an asylum and Katey refused to be her fellow inmate.

The sky was clear and the moon gave enough light that allowed Katey to read the writing on the stones. Katey parked the car and wandered amongst the graves. Her steps were slow, her shoes treading across the well-worn path between the rows of stones and statues.

This graveyard wasn’t monitored or gated, allowing anyone to visit at any time of the day or night. She could take her time and breathe in the earthy smell of the woods that surrounded her. Maybe later she would take a trip into the trees if the silent company of the dead couldn’t quench her soul.

One burial plot was for a couple who had died early in their marriage, another for an infant who was born and died in the same day. Another was for a child who apparently had died of cancer at the youthful age of five.

Such tragedy, such loss. Sometimes Katey wondered if she’d become insensible to it all. There might have been a time when she felt her heart ache for the deaths of these people. But, she felt nothing and it was that nothingness that scared her the most.

Katey found a comfortable corner of the cemetery next to a grave of a boy who died during his eighteenth year.

She stared at the quote engraved in the cold, unforgiving stone. “Good night, I love you. See you in the morning.”

Katey never understood what the quote meant.

She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She found herself smiling and she didn’t know why. Maybe it was the cool gentle breeze that played in her hair, or the chorus of cicada bugs, or the way her isolation wrapped around her so completely.

It was that inexplicable stillness that she hungered for. The effects went deep, seeping into her. She wanted to laugh with relief. Maybe this was her breakthrough. That’s all she needed. A breakthrough. Something to stimulate her dying soul so she could feel something again and hope for better. For the first time in over six months, she felt it kindle to life. What made this night so different from the others she had spent in seclusion at this cemetery?

A twinge of panic touched her mind as she began to wonder what exactly changed to make her feel this way. It couldn’t have been her surroundings alone. Maybe the moon? Maybe the comet that was to come soon? Or maybe…

“Someone you knew?”

Katey’s heart jolted. She gasped and looked behind her, staring up at the figure of a stranger.

She couldn’t see him well because the moon’s rays shone from behind him, shadowing his features. He was no more than a silhouette in her sight and he was far too close for comfort.

She didn’t hear him walk up. It took her a few minutes to recover from her minor heart attack before she could talk or breath.

“What?” Katey asked, forgetting what the stranger had just said. He chuckled a little; his laugh so deep she could feel the sound waves vibrate in the earth and Katey shuddered.

“Was he someone you knew?” he asked again, motioning his head to the grave plot.

Katey looked at the tombstone and shook her head, sitting up straight again and avoiding the urge to look up. She knew she shouldn’t be talking to strangers, especially in a dark place, out in the middle of nowhere. She then remembered that her cell phone was in her car, so far away that if she needed help she couldn’t even call for it.

Fear flooded through her, but would not latch its claws around her heart just yet. She was afraid, but not that afraid. It was as if two conflicting emotions were battling with each other inside her. She trembled for a second or two, but then she inhaled and the peace came with the air in her lungs. It was a tug of war that she couldn’t comprehend or accurately explain.

“Then why are you just sitting here?” he asked.

Katey looked up at him, perplexed and suddenly brave. “Why are you here asking me why I’m staring at his grave? Was he someone you knew?”

The stranger shrugged and shook his head. “No, he wasn’t. I was just curious if you did.”

“How long have you been standing there?” she asked accusingly. “I didn’t even hear you walk up.” Her eyes flitted over him, but she still couldn’t make out too many details. If she could, perhaps she could tip the balance over these conflicting emotions. The fear of the unknown was strong, but Katey was determined to be stronger.

The stranger chuckled again, sending oddly pleasant chill bumps down Katey’s spine. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

He then stepped forward and sat down next to Katey.

Katey bolted from the bench and backed away under the shade of a nearby elm. She could see him clearly now.

His hair was black as the night sky above with thin blonde highlights that looked natural in the way they weaved through his hair. Yet, the color combination was so peculiar that it couldn’t have been natural.

In the moonlight, his almond shaped eyes appeared light blue, almost grey, a striking contrast to his dark hair and tanned skin. A slender tapering strip of dark stubble traced along his bold jaw. He was strikingly handsome; so much that Katey had a hard time holding in a grin. To have him looking straight at her like that gave her unimaginable thrills. He looked like someone off of a rock band poster, dangerous and yet attractive.

The scale was tipped in favor of trusting him, but her mind would not trust her heart in this matter. Even the most beautiful roses had thorns.

Katey looked him up and down warily, remembering every detail of his appearance and outfit in case she had to repeat it again for a police report. What stood out most about his fashion was the black and blue paisley bandana tied loosely around his neck. The colors nearly matched his hair and eyes. No one wore things like that anymore, but he pulled it off well.

He looked up to her and smiled, his eyes smiling with him. “Wow, I’m sorry. I’m being a bit forward, aren’t I?”

Katey snorted. “Try creepy and forward.”

The stranger then stood and offered his hand out to her to shake. She eyed it questionably and studied him in the dim light.

“My name’s Logan. And yours?”

“Why should I tell you?” she asked, still skeptical.

“Because I was kind enough to tell you and it’d be rude to not give me your name as well.”

There was an old-world characteristic of him that she couldn’t quite place and it didn’t make sense with his modern style. It was in the way he smiled, the way he looked at her, his mannerisms, and the aura he emanated.

Katey stared into his eyes. They seemed to have a certain luster to them that she couldn’t describe. It was as if he honestly cared what her name was and wasn’t just trying to be polite. It made her feel valued somehow and that was something she hadn’t felt in a long time.

She took a deep breath and replied, “My name’s Katey.”

Logan retracted his hand that she had refused to shake. “I’m assuming that’s short for Katherine?”

“What would it matter?”

Logan grinned. “Boy, are you the edgy one.”

“I kind of have a right to be,” she retorted. “You just showed up out of nowhere and I’m all alone out here. For all I know, you could be a murdering rapist or something.”

Logan’s smile faded. “But, I’m not.”

“How can I know that?”

“If I was, I would have done it already.”

Katey had to admit that he had a point. She glanced towards the parking lot and her jeep. She wondered if she could make a run for it. She looked back to Logan and he was still gazing down at her with a look that seemed to be a mix of contentment and utter satisfaction. It was eerie, but oddly soothing at the same time. Even if she wanted to run, her feet wouldn’t respond. They were listening to her heart, not her head.

Katey stepped forward and extended her hand to him to absolve her previous rudeness. He gave her a friendly grin and shook it firmly and briefly.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Katey,” he said.

“Yeah, you too, I guess,” she replied, trying to hold in the smile that was threatening to show on her lips. Her palm tingled with an inexplicable energy long after their hands released. “So, what are you doing out here? Visiting someone?”

Logan shook his head. “No, not really. I just come here sometimes to relax and get away from things. A graveyard is the perfect place to be alone, don’t you think?”

Katey was stunned. That’s exactly how she felt, but she wasn’t about to admit it. She wasn’t ready to let her guard down just yet. “Except right now. Neither of us are alone.”

Logan sniggered. “I suppose so. Why are you out here then?”

Katey pause, wondering what she should reveal and what she shouldn’t. “I just came from a party and I came here instead of going home,” she replied, looking away to the flourishing grass on top of the grave.

She couldn’t help herself but glance at his ragged jeans. They didn’t look like the kind of jeans that could be bought with holes already in them. These looked like they were torn up naturally.

“Why didn’t you stay at the party?” he asked. His voice was mature, deep, and like a balm to her upset nerves.

“It was boring and I didn’t know anyone there. They were all just dancing and drinking. Not my kind of scene.”

Logan laughed. “But graveyards are?”

Katey felt flustered. “Well, no… Not really… I don’t know.”

“Sorry, it was just a question. Didn’t mean to rile you.” He waved his hands up in a gesture of apology.

Katey shrugged and looked away. “I guess I came here for the same reasons you did… I spend all day being around people and sometimes I just need to get away and be with myself for a change.”

He nodded thoughtfully. “Well, then let’s be alone together. Follow me.”

Logan then turned and walked off towards the center of the cemetery. He had a peculiar walk; smooth and graceful, yet masculine and commanding. He stopped and looked back at Katey with an encouraging smile.

“It’s okay. Come,” he said, jerking his head a little before he continued walking.

Katey gave in, despite her better judgment, and followed him. She kept a few feet behind and compared their heights and estimated weights. She was so vulnerable. It would be nearly impossible to defend herself against him. But something told her that she had a greater risk of being attacked by a shark out in the middle of this graveyard than to be assaulted by Logan.

Now she knew the source of that peace. It must have been him. Just like her teachers, Logan radiated that same confidence in everything he did and said.

He stopped at the edge of a pebble-stoned area, surrounded by a concrete perimeter. It reminded Katey of a sand box, minus the sand. There were no tombstones so it was kosher to walk on. It must have been a reserved plot for someone whose heart was still beating.

Logan stepped over the little concrete wall and onto the pebbles, his heavy boots crunching against the rocks with each step. Katey watched and waited as he laid himself down on the bed of stones.

He let out a content sigh, folded his hands on top of his stomach, and looked over at Katey with dazzling eyes. She could see that he was extremely physically fit. His waist was trim and from the way the light hit his tight, black shirt, she could see the ridges of his rock-hard abs underneath. His broad chest steadily rose and fell with each steady breath in a rhythm that Katey could watch all night. She hadn’t been able to see his upper body before because of the jacket that obscured the majority of those enticing traits. He motioned for her to join him.

Katey raised an eyebrow at him.

“Okay, I know it looks weird and I know what you’re thinking, but I’m really not the kind of guy to hurt someone. At least not on purpose…” His eyes sparked with momentary hesitance. “But this is pretty relaxing and it’s a perfect view of the sky for when the comet comes,” he said sincerely.

It was then that Katey realized she had never been alone with a guy before, let alone lay down next to him. Her common sense screamed at her, begging her to leave now while he wasn’t in the position to chase her. But the part of her that didn’t want to be numb anymore vetoed the idea. As long as she was with Logan, the depression was a distant memory.

She joined him on the pebbles – keeping at least a foot of distance between them – and gazed up at the night sky, letting it fill her vision. She’d never realized how many stars there. The city lights blotted out such natural beauty and Katey wondered why she hadn’t noticed it before.

With each second that became the past, the restlessness that Katey had been feeling for months, began to ebb away. Her tense muscles released and she felt she could breathe for the first time. Her chest no longer ached with loneliness. Her mind wasn’t engulfed in the black fog of despair and doubt.

Katey felt, for the first time perhaps in years, at home. This was her breakthrough.

“Do you feel it yet?” he said softly.

“Feel what?” she asked, her voice sounding loud even in her own ears.

“That weird sensation of peace like the world is all right.”

“Yeah,” she replied with a grin. “How’d you know?”

“Because I feel it too.”

Katey rolled her head to the side and met his gaze. She didn’t realize how close he really was, but somehow, she didn’t care anymore. His presence no longer frightened her.

He grinned and Katey couldn’t help but smile too. It was a true smile, not faked for the sake of friends and teachers. But, a true, sincere grin that she was slightly embarrassed to reveal to such a perfect stranger. Why did he deserve a real smile when not even her friends could solicit one out of her? She felt her face flush and turned back to the gazing at the sky.

“I come out here probably twice a week. It’s almost like therapy,” he said. A moment of silence passed between them and she spoke again.

“Today is actually my birthday.” She didn’t know what provoked her to share this detail with someone who she just met when she never even told her best friends. “A little before midnight I’ll be officially eighteen,” Katey said. She didn’t really know what time she was born; she just set a random time. Eleven fifty-five at night seemed as good a time as any. Beth had always bragged that she was born at three o’clock in the morning while Lily’s parents told her she was born exactly at noon.

“No kidding? Well…” he pulled out a watch from his jacket pocket and peered at it in the darkness. “In the case that either of us leaves before then, happy birthday.”

Katey giggled. “Thank you. And how old are you?”

“I turn nineteen in about month,” he replied.

“You look older than that.”

He shook his head. “I get that a lot. You don’t look your age either.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she replied.

“Good. I meant it as one.”

They spent the next several moments in comfortable silence. A gust of wind rolled above them and Katey shivered as the cold leaked through her hoodie.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she mumbled with a sigh.

Logan ignored her and sat up to shrug off his heavy jacket. He handed it to her with a severe look that commanded her not to argue or refuse. And she didn’t. Katey took his jacket and joked how heavy it was. But once it was around her shoulders, it blocked out the cold perfectly. The residual warmth in the cloth from his body made her grin like a fool.

They reclined back down, but this time Logan folded his hands behind his head, displaying his muscular body for her. Katey shivered, but not because of the cold. This all seemed too good to be true. She was alone with one of the sexiest men she had ever seen and he seemed so interested in her.

“So, do you live around here?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Katey replied with a note of apprehension.

“Where?”

“Why? Are you going to stalk me?”

“Not unless you want me to.”

Katey rolled her eyes at his teasing. If he had made that comment any earlier, she wouldn’t have taken it in the way it was meant at all.

“You have heard about the comet, right?”

“Yeah, who hasn’t? That’s what the party was for. Funny thing is that everyone’s going to be too drunk to even pay attention when it comes around.”

He laughed. “And you really are not afraid to be out here all alone?” he asked, looking back to her with sympathetic eyes.

“Nah. There aren’t any wild animals around and I can usually take care of myself,” Katey said with a level of counterfeited confidence that even made herself smile.

“But you get freaked out over a stranger trying to be friendly to you.”

Katey shook her head. “I was just trying to be careful.”

“And I still managed to get you to lay down here with me.”

Katey laughed off his comment. “Whatever.”

“And that thing about wild animals isn’t necessarily true,” he said softly.

Katey looked back at him. His expression was shadowed and somber, as if everything had been merely a joke up to this point. He was perfectly serious and he wanted to make sure she was aware of it.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“I’ve heard that wolves are making a comeback in this area,” he said, keeping his eyes on the moon. They looked like they were changing colors, becoming lighter and lighter, mimicking the paleness of the moon. It took a moment for his words to sink in.

“Really? Are you serious?” she asked.

“Very serious. They spotted three just the other month from what I heard.”

He must have been pulling her leg. If they spotted wolves, it would have been all over the news. She rolled her eyes and shook her head.

“You don’t believe me, do you?” he asked.

“Not a bit,” she replied. He didn’t press the matter or try to convince her that he was right. Instead, he resigned to silence again.

The moon made its gradual ascension into the sky, slow and majestic in its climb.

Katey had no idea how long they had been laying like that before a dull exhaustion crept in. She closed her eyes, but seemingly seconds later Logan spoke.

“And… happy eighteenth birthday, Katey. It’s midnight.”

Katey didn’t reply, but smiled all the same. She could feel his eyes on her, but she didn’t move or look at him in return. She was too wrapped up in her own thoughts. She was finally considered an adult. She could leave Crestucky, leave Mary, and start a new life.

But with that revelation came the knowledge that if she did leave town, she’d be leaving far more than a bad home and a dreary town. She’d be leaving her friends behind. They were all she had.

And before she could stop herself from thinking it, she knew she’d be leaving Logan too. It was silly. They just met and he suddenly became a factor in her decision to leave town or not.

“Hey, Katey… Look.” Logan knocked his hand a few times gently on her arm and she opened her eyes to take in the midnight sky. Just below the moon, a small streak of pale blue light, the color of Logan’s eyes, shot across the sky. She watched in wonder as its tail left a trail of stardust in its wake. Katey had never seen anything more glorious.

All the sudden, she felt small. In the vast workings of the universe, she realized that she was just a small speck of dust, no bigger than the pinhead of a needle compared to what else lay out there for man to discover. Now she understood why people could be so obsessed about space.

But Katey wasn’t concerned with space, just her place in it. She was afraid that the depression would return and she tried to force the thought out. But it wouldn’t leave and instead of giving her feelings of grief and sorrow for her own insignificant life, it instilled something else completely different.

Katey wanted to find her place in the world and not simply accept the idea that she might not have a place. She remembered how good it felt to help Mr. Myers with his car earlier in the day. It was the feeling of fulfillment when she helped someone in need. She wanted to feel it again. She wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had a purpose and that she was on the right track to finding it. It may not manifest tonight, tomorrow, next week, or even in the coming year, but she knew it was there waiting for her. That impatience swirled in her gut and she knew that she couldn’t just ignore it anymore.

Katey looked over to where Logan lay to tell him all about her new revelation, but he wasn’t there. She didn’t even hear him leave. Just as suddenly as he appeared, he was gone. Rocks surrounded them, but somehow, he managed to get up and walk away without making a single sound.

Katey sat up and swiveled her head around, searching for him, but couldn’t see him anywhere. She began to wonder if she had fallen asleep and only imagined Logan. As she looked around more frantically, her heart began to pound in her chest with the thought that she was alone again. Logan had stolen away every ounce of peace she gained that night and she knew she didn’t want to be alone ever again.

She jumped up and ran to her jeep, stumbling a little on her way. Just as she stepped over the threshold to the parking lot, she heard a long, solemn wolf howl coming from the forest beyond the graveyard.

The sound reverberated through the air like a haunting call, chilling her blood and then making it boil all at the same time. It was a bizarre sensation as she froze and listened to the last dying notes, captivated by the howl and how it chased away the fresh wave of dread.

Was it really a wolf or just a lone dog? She had heard stray dogs bark and howl before, but none of them sounded so majestic and regal as what she just heard. It wasn’t the mangy wailings of a mutt. Could what Logan said be true?

She quickly hopped in her jeep and sped away from the cemetery. It took her that long to realize that she was still wearing Logan’s heavy jacket. Now she knew that he must have been real and not just an illusion.

 

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