Kiss Me at Midnight By Scarlett Kol
“I’m cold.” She crossed her arms over her chest and shivered as the autumn breeze whistled through the maple trees.
He draped his varsity sweater over her shoulders and sidled closer, wrapping his arm around her. “Better?”
She nodded and pulled her arms into the sleeves, nestling against him as they disappeared underneath the canopy of trees. The radiant moon filtered through the awning of half-naked branches creating an ethereal haze, the occasional fractured shards of light leading their way. Cinnamon and crimson leaves crunched beneath their feet, every step familiar and yet somehow new as her fingers laced around his bicep, his skin pebbling at her touch.
He rested his chin on the top of her head, drawing her into him, the need to be nearer to her growing stronger as the minutes faded. A piece of himself at risk of floating away and leaving him unfinished forever.
“Are you okay?” She mumbled against his chest, the words vibrating through him and shaking at his core.
She slipped her hand in his, hearing the lie and wanting to believe it. Wanting to be okay too. Knowing it would never be.
They stopped on the old wooden bridge over the winding creek, the water an inky-black canvas, a shimmering picture of the moon and sky painted upon it in shades of blue starlight. She rested her elbows on the railing, staring out into the dark unknown, as a fathomless sigh escaped her lips and swept away with the wind.
“Do you ever wonder if maybe this is all just a dream?”
He placed his hands on her hips and spun her around, her skirt puffing out between them. Her eyes darted over his face, every feature, every pore, committing them to memory like beautiful words from her favorite book. A story of him to recall in those dark times when she needed the inspiration.
He slid his nose against her cheek, the cold, chill melting against her flushed skin, and whispered. “It can’t be. I could never dream up someone as wonderful as you.”
He breathed a kiss upon her neck, and she giggled in his arms. The lilt of her laughter echoed through the trees, the sound, sweet and rich like caramel.
He held her tighter as the wind twisted around them, the night shifting. Later. Darker. One small tiptoe nearer to dawn. Her hair danced in the updraft, and he smoothed the strands behind her ear as the spark in her gaze dimmed, the lateness beginning to weigh upon her shoulders.
"Walk me home?"
He nodded. If only the night could stretch on forever, just once. To let them walk on until their feet blistered and they collapsed in each other’s arms, able to watch the sun rise over the horizon. Together.
He took her hand, drawing circles around her knuckles with his thumb as they strolled slowly, their pace inching closer to stopping the further they walked. Finally, he creaked open the ornamental cast iron gate and they slid inside, taking the well-worn walkway through the yard. About halfway, they deserted the path and stepped into the pristinely kept grass between the rows of statues and the stones.
A particularly sad stone stood out among the rest. Plain marble etched in grief, and years of dirt and moss. No flowers. No footsteps. Undisturbed and forgotten as the years had passed.
August 3, 1940 - October 31, 1957
Her eyes blurred as she stepped closer to the inscription, the pain of all she'd lost pulsing through her, pounding like tidal waves on a forgotten shore. She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of his sweater and curled her fingers into the cuffs.
"I'll miss you," she said. "I always do."
“This never gets any easier, does it?” He placed his hand upon her cheek, his thumb catching a stray tear that squeezed past her matted lashes. "But you know I'll always come back for you. I'll always wait."
He pressed his lips against hers, her salty tears mixed with a longing both of them knew would never be fulfilled. She held him close, her arms wrapped tight around his ribs as her fingers gripped at his shoulder blades, hoping he wouldn’t slip away like the quickly passing time.
In the distance, the church bells chimed. One, two, three…twelve. Twelve times. Midnight.
She placed her hand over his at the side of her face, a bittersweet smile breaking through her sadness. "I'll always love you."
"I know." He placed his forehead against hers, drawing in the scent of her. Blooming roses and a hint of delicate vanilla. A breath of summer day in the middle of the cool autumn evening. “I love you too.”
The moonlight filtered through the trees across her skin, her form fading into mist until his skin lay cold and empty, except for the night breeze. He hung his head and stuffed his hands into his pockets, then continued down the small rows of stones. He read each inscription as he passed, wondering who these people were and if anyone out there still cared. If someone still missed them too.
Three rows away he stopped and stared into the dark sky. The stars peeked from behind the clouds, calling out with their twinkling light. Time to go home. He closed his eyes, the white light of the moon bright behind his eyelids. Maybe one day there might be an end to this star-crossed existence, and although he knew there likely never would be, he smiled for the collection of moments and memories it had allowed him so far, dreaming of what another night like this in another year might bring. He steadied himself against the cold stone slab in front of him, as the weight of his limbs eased away from his joints, his body unravelling, dissolving into the ether of the night. The autumn wind swirled, waving its last goodbye, a subtle applause as the leaves rustled against the stone marker.
February 12, 1939 – October 31, 1957
Scarlett Kol is the USA Today bestselling author of dystopian, paranormal and fantasy novels for young adults. Born and raised in Northern Manitoba, she grew up reading books and writing stories about creatures that make you want to sleep with the lights on. As an adult, she's still a little afraid of the dark.
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”