I ran back home, using only the revelation of what had just happened for energy. How could I help loving the girl who snuck out at night to lie with me under the stars, protected by the thick branches of a silver maple? A girl who might truly love me?
As these thoughts came to mind, I was reminded of Carla. Leila could be exactly like her. I could end up in the same dark pit. I wanted to believe that Leila was different. I didn’t know, but I tried to believe I did.
I didn’t know how long this was going to last. Was forever a possibility? How could I love someone who was perfectly able to hurt me?
How could I not?
I quickly climbed up to my second story window and lay down on the bed. Was this what life was destined to be like – in and out of relationships with girls who hurt you and never truly loved you?
Before I could search for an answer, I fell asleep.
I dreamt of dew-glazed grass under the moon with a mysterious girl that I loved.
I woke up the next morning with only groggy eyes and faint memories of the past night. I had dreamt of her.
Quickly, I went down for breakfast. Mom was sleeping, but there was never a night that passed without her returning home drunk. Dad was somewhere in North America, but I was never sure where. He almost never came home. Sometimes I struggled to remember what he looked like.
Most days I was on my own. The only thing that kept me going during the day was the thought of sneaking out at night.
Hastily, I shoveled down a bowl of cereal and took a walk.
The morning breeze was cool, but it felt good. I shoved my hands in my pockets as I kept walking. Was there anything in life for me that was positive? I snuck out at night, only able to dread the day that would come in less than ten hours. Where would I stand if there were no darkness?
I thought back to the night, only a week ago, when Leila came into my life.
I could see someone in the distance. I didn’t know anyone else who came here at night. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who used the darkness as their escape, late-night escapades. Was it possible someone else needed an escape, too?
She neared me. Long, deep black hair fell just below her shoulders and hazel eyes as black as the night sky lit up when she smiled. She wore gray boots, dark jeans, and a navy sweatshirt with a small diamond shape plastered on it. Finally, she reached the spot where I was perched under the tree.
“Hey,” she said.
“I guess I’m not the only one who sneaks out at night,” I replied flatly.
She laughed. It was light and bubbly; I loved it. She replied with a short, “I guess you’re not.” She sat down next to me as if she’d known me all her life. We looked at the stars together. Finally, she asked, “What’s your name?”
She gave hers in return. “Leila."
It sounded beautiful, perfect, like it was meant to be. Just how I felt about that moment.
At the end of the night, when we knew the sun would peek out over the horizon in less than an hour, she got up, brushed herself off, and said, “Tomorrow night. Throw a small rock at my window. I’ll know it’s you. Meet me back here.” Then she left.
First I questioned whether I should.
But I knew I would.
I smiled to myself. There was nothing I needed to have more than someone else in my life, someone that would take me away, to a place that seemed unrealistic.
Because when you weren’t ready for it, reality hit you hard and fast. And I was never ready for it.