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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20. Twenty: Seize the Night

 

 

"There is no they, only us."

- Anonymous 

 

    My room was quiet save for the steady patter of rain on the window. It was a warm night, and the rain made it uncomfortably sticky, but it was alright. Everything was alright. I couldn’t remember ever feeling so light and free, and laying back on my bed, I finally got the chance to drink it all in.

    After telling Sebastian, I felt like like a hole had been punched in the box I shut myself in. I felt like I could be myself for the first time, and not be afraid of leading anyone on or getting myself into something that I couldn’t follow through. When Sebastian had walked me home that night, he hugged me, and I was nothing but grateful for him - for everything he had said, for his very existence. 

    Sebastian had some sort of family thing all day, so I hadn’t seen him, but that was okay. I loved that we didn’t have to spend every minute together to still be best friends. I was still riding on the high from the night before, humming as I sat on my bed and checked my mother’s dating site account. She had three new messages, all from guys who didn’t look like total creeps. Grinning, I took my laptop and headed downstairs, finding my mother working on her nightly paperwork on the couch, the news playing in the background. 

    “Mom,” I said. “You have prospects.”

    Kim looked up at me, setting her folder aside. “Oh dear.”

    I sank down next to her, showing her my screen, presenting each guy like a contestant in a game show. “Meet Frank. He’s a computer programmer, fifty one, he likes Elton John and Stephen King, and his ideal date is a picnic in the park.” I showed her his picture, a smiling but otherwise unremarkable white man in an orange t-shirt.

    “Hmm…. Pass.”

    “Okay,” I said, moving on to the next without hesitation. “Next we have Raul, forty five, who is a business executive who likes classical theater and a good glass of wine. His idea of a perfect date is dinner at a restaurant, then a show. He’s also allergic to dogs.”

    My mom shook her head. “He’s handsome,” she admitted, eyes on the carefully groomed man in the photo, “but not really my style. Besides,” she continued, raising a brow at Romeo who lounged on the armchair. So, who’s the last one?” 

    “Roger,” I said, clicking onto the next picture of an African American man with a wide, friendly smile standing with hand hovering just above a small but perfectly formed tree. “He owns his own restoration garage, he’s forty eight, likes traveling, a good cup of coffee, and making himself feel tall by standing next to tiny trees,” I read, then snickered. “His ideal date is an escape room.”

    My mom glanced up from the screen at me. “What’s an escape room?” 

    “It’s like a puzzle thing where they lock you in a room and you have to solve a bunch of puzzles to escape before time runs out,” I told her, then looked back at Roger. “That’s a really interesting choice. Locking yourself in a room with a stranger is bold, but least you’d see what the other person’s like under stress.”

    “Are there any escape rooms around here?” she asked. 

    “Yeah, there’s one like a half hour away. Sebastian talked about going once,” I told her. 

    Kim looked down at the picture again. “That sounds interesting. How does this work?” she asked, waving a hand at the screen.

    I grinned. “You want me to set you up a date?” 

    “Why not?” Kim replied. “He looks nice. Provided you internet stalk him and make sure he’s not a mass murderer first.”

    “Awesome,” I replied. “When are you free?” 

    “Thursday or Friday nights should work,” she answered. 

    “I’m on it,” I told her, taking my computer to head back upstairs, a smile plastered on my face. My dad was getting married, my mom was getting over him, and I… well, I had the best friend I could ask for. Everything was finally starting to turn around. 

    When I made it to my room, I turned to shut the door behind me only to hear a knock on my window. Jumping, I spun around to find Sebastian perched on the tree branch, water dripping from his hair and a pleading look on his face. Dropping my computer on my bed, I hurried over to open the window. 

    “Seb, what are you doing?” I demanded. “It’s raining.”

    Sebastian grinned, making no move to come in. “I see that,” he answered, his voice full of excitement. “Come out with me.”

    I stared at him. “It’s raining,” I repeated.

    Rolling his eyes, Sebastian replied, “We’ve been over that. You won’t melt, come on.”

    “Why?” 

    “You said that if I wanted to be part of some of your firsts, you had to be a part of some of mine, right?” Sebastian asked, his eyes sparkling.

    I nodded. “Yeah, but-“

    “I’ve never danced in the rain.”

    Blinking, I replied, “What? Not even when you were little?” 

    “Never.”

    I deliberated only for a moment before pulling my phone from my pocket and putting it safely on my bed. “Well, we have to change that, don’t we?” 

    Sebastian’s smile was blinding as he said, “Meet you at the bottom!” 

    I rolled my eyes as he climbed back down the tree, then headed through the house to the front door. I didn’t trust my climbing abilities on the slick wet bark. My mom looked up as I rushed past her, but didn’t say anything as I headed out the door without a coat. I didn’t even bother to put on shoes, instead padding over the wet, muddy grass in bare feet. 

    “You’re no fun,” Sebastian said, meeting me at the edge of the road. “Doors are for squares,” he told me. 

    “Squares are pretty edgy, though,” I replied. 

    Throwing his head back in a laugh, Sebastian let the rain fall against his face like there was nowhere else he would rather be. “Come on,” he said, dragging me by the hand into the middle of the road. It was late, and there was no one in our little suburban neighborhood, so we danced there on the concrete, with sheets of water falling all around us. We danced and spun and laughed and splashed in puddles and twirled each other around and laughed.

    Eventually, we tired, standing in the middle of the street panting as the rain fell to keep us cool. Sebastian grinned at me. “Well, there’s one thing to cross off my list.” 

    “I’m glad,” I replied. And I really, really, was.    “I was thinking there was one more thing we could cross off tonight, but only if you want to,” Sebastian hedged, looking hopeful and just a touch uncertain. 

    “Does it involve changing into dry clothes first?” I asked, plucking at the wet fabric that stuck to my skin. 

    Sebastian shrugged. “It doesn’t have to.”

    “What is it?” 

    Taking my hand again, Sebastian tugged me off the road and under the tree in my front yard where we had first really met. “Here, I have the list,” he said, digging in his pocket and coming out with a folded piece of paper in a Ziplock bag. He handed it to me. 

    I pulled the paper out, reading it aloud, “Things I’ve Never Done, but I’d Like To.” I glanced at him. “Good title.”

    “Keep going,” Sebastian encouraged. 

    “Go ghost hunting,” I read. “Unless you know of anywhere that’s haunted, we can’t do that tonight.”

    “That’s not the one. Keep reading.”

    “Go to New York City, or DC,” I continued. “Drink eggnog. You’ve never had eggnog?” I asked, looking up. 

    “Nope,” Sebastian replied. His eyes darted back to the paper, and I figured that meant for me to keep reading. 

    “Dance in the rain. Check,” I said. “Watch every Harry Potter movie in a massive marathon. Good plan.” I moved to the next bullet point. “Get my driver’s license.” Looking up, I cocked my head. 

    Sebastian gave a little smile, and the sadness in his eyes was only slight. “I think it’s time.”

    I knew he was thinking of his brother, and I couldn’t find anything to say. Sebastian shifted his weight in the corner of my vision as I turned back to the paper. My stomach tightened in apprehension as I read, “Be in a Queer Platonic Relationship with someone I really like.” I looked up, and Sebastian was looking at me, his eyes wide and hopeful.

    “Only if you want to,” Sebastian re-iterated. “I did some research, and I know they’re all different, but I think we can figure out what works-“

    “Check,” I interrupted, the rain pounding as hard as my heart

    “What?” 

    “Check,” I said, helpless to stop the grin that was spreading across my face. “You can check that one off, if you want.”

    Sebastian beamed. “Can hugging be an acceptable part of this arrangement?”

    I nodded before he was even done talking. “Absolutely.” 

    Taking a half step forward, Sebastian wrapped his arms around me, and I hooked my chin on his shoulder. We were both soaking wet and my heart was hammering, but it was in the best way. 

    I had never been in a QPR, and I didn’t know how everything would work. I didn’t know what would happen when summer ended or how long this would last, but for the first time, the future didn’t scare me. The boy in my arms had carved out a place in my life and changed the lens through which I saw the world. He had pulled me from my room and made me not only appreciate the beauty of the night, but embrace it.  

    There was a first for everything, and there was no one I would rather share this first with. 

    In the darkness, in the rain, I smiled. I beamed. I heard people say “carpe diem” all the time. Seize the day, as if light was the most precious time. But Sebastian wasn’t one of those people - he didn’t deal in cliches. Carpe noctem, he would argue. Light was beautiful, but so was the dark. 

    After all, some people belonged to the night.

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