Short Story: First Date

“I can’t believe we got lost!” Emma exclaimed. She looked intently at him making sure he knows that it’s his fault.

Noel sighed, “I just wanted to see the stars. You didn’t have to come along.”

“How can I not come along? With your bad sense of direction, we’d probably be looking for you all night.” she pouted.  Then silence filled the air.

It was twilight. The forest trees were tall and sullen which made it difficult to find the path back to the campsite. But Noel wasn’t looking for camp. He was still roaming around, looking for something, despite carrying a small flashlight while she followed. “Why?” Emma trying to break the silence. “Why are you so keen on looking for this place just to look at the stars? We can perfectly see it at the campsite.” Her voice trailed off; failing at her attempt to make him talk. He didn’t answer.

After carefully navigating through the trees for several minutes, Noel spoke. “It’s my special place.” The silence of the forest was overwhelming. Once in awhile an owl would hoot. Sometimes the sound of the wind colliding with the branches would rattle. It was almost half an hour of walking when he found it. “We’re here,” Noel said.

He turned to Emma and said, “Close your eyes.” “What?” “Just do it.” She did as she was told. He held her hand and guided her at the middle of the field. It was an open space in the middle of the forest. It wasn’t that big but it was enough to fit several people. It was slightly elevated and grassy. “You can open your eyes now,” he said. Almost an instant, when the stars’ light hit Emma’s eyes, she froze in amazement. She was speechless. Noel turned off his flashlight and laid a blanket on the forest floor. He was prepared. He pulled Emma’s hand down signaling her to lie down beside him. She was still in awe.

The silence continued. No one spoke for several minutes but the atmosphere seemed to change. It was the perfect place to see the milky way. The stars’ light shone brighter because of the darkness, it didn’t bother them that they couldn’t see anything other than the stars. “I’ve never seen anything like this before, except, you know, in books. But it can’t be compared to this.” Emma’s voice was soft and calmed. “We used to come here a lot. Before,” he paused, cleared his throat and said in a whisper “you know, the….. the accident,” he looked away and tried to remain calm. Then looked up and continued to say “this is our favorite place in the whole world because, this was the only place where we could forget our troubles, our mistakes and forget about being us. Here, we are free. Bound by nothing but be in awe at everything that our eyes have missed. It makes you remember that everything is not about you. When you make a mistake or fail or even die, this world will still keep on spinning.” She looked at him with compassion and said: “You’re right. This is even kind-of therapeutic. Thank you for letting me tag along.” He held her hand and smiled. Silence roamed but it was pleasant.


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