Later that night, Veronica had already gone to bed. Atlantis couldn't sleep, so she quietly got out of bed. She walked to the window and looked out. A shadow walking down the sidewalk caught her eye. Curious, Atlantis quickly pulled on her old black leather boots and a jacket. Quickly and quietly, she ran out of the room and underneath her window. The cool, humid air seeped through her thin golden-yellow pajama pants and pale grey shirt. Shivering, Atlantis considered turning back when she heard footsteps ahead of her. Pulling her blue sweatshirt tighter around her, she hurried on, tailing whoever was in front of her. She followed them past the dorms and through the courtyard. Finally, they stopped at the fountain in front of the school entrance.
"Basta, enough of this," called a masculine voice. "I know you've been following me."
Atlantis stepped out of the shadows and into the yellow light from the streetlamp. "What's your name?"
"Raul. Who are you?"
Raul smiled. "Named after the famous mythical city that mysteriously disappeared. Are you going to follow your namesake's example, or will you come and sit with me?"
Atlantis smiled. She walked to the fountain and sat next to him on a bench next to the fountain.
"So do you usually take walks at night?" Raul asked.
Atlantis shook her head and looked up at the moon. "No. I couldn't sleep tonight."
Raul nodded. "I understand. I haven't had a full night's sleep in a long time."
Raul shook his head. "I won't say."
Atlantis shifted her gaze to him. He was a handsome boy, with thick, wavy black hair and chocolate eyes.
He smiled. "Because it is of no consequence to you."
Atlantis returned the smile, suddenly feeling better than she had in months. "You'll find out that it's hard to keep secrets from me, Raul."
Raul laughed. "And you will find out how good I am at keeping them, Atlantis."
She smiled wider and looked back up at the moon.
"Something is bothering you, Atlantis, something very big."
Atlantis' smile fell. "It's something I'd rather forget about. Or at least try to."
"Aha! There was a boy who broke your heart and you have come to the Scuola D'arte Venete, so your heart can heal and you can get over him!"
Atlantis smiled and shook her head. "It's more complicated than that. Way more complicated."
Raul nodded. "I understand the complicated secrets. I have a few of my own."
"Everyone does," Atlantis said quietly.
"Very true, Atlantis. Very true."
"So if you can't sleep, do you walk out here every night?"
Raul nodded. "Sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in on me, and getting outside is the only way for them to stop."
Atlantis gave Raul and sideways glance. "You have vivid nightmares, don't you?"
Raul turned and stared at her incredulously. "How did you know?"
Atlantis returned his gaze. "Because you have a haunted look about you, like you can't escape part of your past."
"You have the same look about you, Atlantis."
She looked down at the brown cobblestone street. "Because part of my past won't let go of me," she said bitterly.
Raul put a comforting arm around her. "I'll tell you my story if you tell yours."
Atlantis looked up and half smiled. "Mine's too complicated to explain. What's yours?"
Raul's eyes looked sad. "My mother died when I was young, and my father was an alcoholic. He blamed me for her death when he was drunk, and he'd beat me for it. When I was sixteen, I couldn't take it anymore. When he came for me, I fought back and threw him against the wall. He hit his head so hard he got amnesia. He doesn't remember me, or anything that happened. I wish I was that lucky."
Atlantis hugged him. "Sometimes bad things in our past inspire who we become."
Raul hugged her back and smiled. "You should remember that, Atlantis. Whatever is haunting your from your past, remember that it will inspire goodness in your future."
Atlantis closed her eyes. I hope so, she thought.
Raul let go of her and looked the sky. The moon had set and the sky was starting to lighten in the east.
"We talked all night," Atlantis said.
Raul smiled. "And it was a very nice conversation. I hope we can continue conversating like that."
Atlantis smiled. "I think we'll be able to."
Raul stood and offered her his hand. "May I walk you back to your room?"
Atlantis took his hand and stood up. "I would be honored."