Carpe Noctem

Like the beginning of a dozen cliche romance stories, Hana lives next to a cute boy, it's summer, and they're bored. But Sebastian hates cliches, and Hana hates romance. Fortunately, this is no love story.

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13. Thirteen: Heart is a Drum

 

"There is something about a closet that makes a skeleton restless."

-Unknown 

 

    “Come on, I know a place.”

    “You know all the places,” I muttered. 

    With a half shrug, Sebastian set off down the road, and I followed. “I know all the cool places within walking distance.”

    I looked at him. “When did you have time to do this?” I didn’t remember every detail about my younger years, but it seemed like school took up most of my time. Wandering around exploring the neighborhood wasn’t exactly penciled into the timetable.

    “At night,” Sebastian replied easily. “When else?”

    “When do you sleep?”

    He just smiled and kept walking. It took a good fifteen minutes to leave the neighborhood, and the road turned into a familiar overpass that I had driven over a thousand times. “Watch your step,” Sebastian advised, stepping off of the sidewalk and down a little embankment that sloped down and fell away when the overpass took shape. He picked his way across the rocks and grass, and I followed in his footsteps until we reached a little metal service platform that ran the length of the bridge. “Want to go first?”

    I surveyed the rusty structure. “Are you sure this is safe?”

    “No,” Sebastian admitted with a wry grin. “But it hasn’t failed me yet.”

    “There’s a first for everything,” I muttered as I took the first step, hanging on to the railing, rough under my fingers. I gained confidence as I went, but still declared, “I think it should be a standing rule that if I die, you should be the first stop on the investigation.”

    I could hear Sebastian’s satisfied smile in his voice when he replied, “I should make you sign a waiver.”

    “And update my tetanus shot,” I added in an undertone as some rust flakes fell away beneath my hand. We headed to the middle of the bridge, then Sebastian put a hand on my arm to stop me. 

    “We can stay here,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

    I watched as he sat down and stuck his legs through the bars of the railing, then copied his movements. After a minute of listening to the cars whoosh past, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a little square smaller than a Rubick’s cube. He turned it on, scrolled through his phone, and started some music playing through the square speaker. 

    “What’s this?” I asked as the first song interrupted the steady coming and going of the cars on the highway. 

    “My chill playlist,” Sebastian answered. “For nighttime wandering, forest walks, or introspective meditation.” I stared at him, but he was looking at the cars on the highway below. Noticing my look, he turned to meet my gaze. “What?”

    I shook my head. “You’re not what I expected.”

    “What did you expect?”

    “From a football player who dressed up as a cheerleader?” I asked, a little smile on my lips. “I’m not sure. I’m really not sure.”

    For a moment Sebastian was quiet while an Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness song played in the background. When he spoke, his voice was softer than before. “To be honest, you aren’t what I expected either.”

    “And what was that?” I asked.

    With a little laugh, Sebastian answered, “Well, I never expected you to come on these nighttime adventures with me, let alone initiate them. Honestly, I never thought you’d even voluntarily talk to me.” He gave me a sidelong look. “Maybe we’re both just full of surprises.”

    “Maybe,” I agreed. We lapsed into silence and the song shifted again to something rhythmic and atmospheric, almost like a soundtrack to a movie. “What’s this song?”

    “‘Heart is a Drum’ by Beck,” Sebastian answered, closing his eyes for a moment. “I love listening to this and watching the cars. It just feels… perfect. Like nothing is real except for the headlights coming and going.”

    I leaned my head on one of the bars of the railing and listened with him. “Just let go…”

    We stayed like that for a little while, just watching the headlights appear on the horizon and grow brighter and brighter until they were gone beneath the bridge, gone in the distance. Eventually, Sebastian spoke. He always seemed the first to break the silence. “Do you want to talk?”

    “About what?” I asked. Maybe I was more like my mother than I wanted to admit. 

    “About why you needed to get out tonight.”

    “Not really.”

    Sebastian nodded. “Okay.” He didn’t push it, just gave me a long look and a soft smile. When I sent him a questioning look, he shrugged and looked away. Almost too quiet to be heard above the music and traffic, he admitted, “It’s nice to have company out here for once. Even if we don’t talk.”

    It was nice to be there. It would have been nicer if I could crush the lingering fear that whatever this was between Sebastian and I wasn’t something that could last. 

    I would ruin it. I always did.

    

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