Some time after they had left the diner, Amanda could only guess that they were venturing further into Queens and would soon, perhaps, be in Long Island. She kept scrutinizing the roads and the signs, looking for places she recognized. Unfortunately, she hadn't traveled very much out of Manhattan during her stay at NYU and so nothing looked familiar to her. She settled for chatting with Jesse and enjoying the view from her window.
It was almost midnight when Jesse finally pulled off a major road and stopped at a nearby rest stop. He parked the car off to the side and gestured towards the sky.
"You can't see this in Manhattan. Damn, it's beautiful."
She stared up at the sky and saw all of the individual stars that had been obscured by the pollution from the city. Amanda leaned back against the car, finding herself awed by the majesty of the sky combined with the gentle, clean breezes that swept through her hair. Away from the highway and the noises of the city to distract her, she experienced the outdoors at its fullest. She was spinning away in the galaxy towards the stars.
With a flourish, Jesse opened up the back door of the car.
"Here, sit down with me." He sat on the seat and pulled her onto his lap. Wrapping his arms around her, they gazed up together at the night sky.
"Gods, it's beautiful," she breathed.
As he brushed her hair away from her face he merely commented, "And so are you."
She turned to smile at him before resting her head onto his chest. They stayed that way for a few moments until Amanda began to feel that something was odd. She racked her brain to figure it out, still bedazzled by the night sky and the feeling of being in his arms, but couldn't think of it.
Then at last she realized what it was: her ear was up against his chest, but she couldn't feel nor hear a heartbeat.
Puzzled, Amanda wondered if it was just because his leather jacket muffled the sound, but that couldn't have been it. At their close proximity, she should still be able to hear or feel something.
Figuring that the late hour and the fatigue were doing strange things to her mind, she dismissed it as her imagination. But in the silence between them, away from the city and the noise, the only breathing she heard was her own.
I must be losing it. But as she stared up into the sky, too many things fell into her mind, persistent in their logic. Amanda had never seen Jesse during the daylight, had never seen him more than perhaps taste food, didn't know what he did for a living other than "freelance computer work", and now she couldn't hear a heartbeat nor him breathing.
"Jesse?" she queried, her hesistency showing in her voice.
Feeling him freeze behind her, she wondered if he knew what was on her mind, and thought to phrase her next words with caution.
"You're not a normal guy, are you? I mean," she continued, trying not to rush through her words, let alone sound nervous, "not that I'm…all that normal myself, and all, but…." Her voice trailed off. Amanda did not know what to say, or how to say it.
Many moments passed without a response. With great deliberateness he ran his hands through her hair, and she delighted in the feel of his fingertips as they coursed through the strands, brushing against her neck as soft as silk.
In that moment she remembered their first dinner outing, when Jesse showed her the Latin magickal text which referred to strange allegories, symbols and various arcana. She recalled that the text kept referencing "blood" in some mystical context.
"Jesse?" Her voice was quieter, and she was no longer so certain that she was crazy.
Your time has come.
Copyright 2008 by Adrianne Brennan