By Zoë Amber
It was nighttime in the otherwise colorful alleyways of Crosstown. Every few minutes, the light from a streetlamp hid the stars. Jessica was trying to count them as she made her way to the motel. 137 so far. Though, could that count be trusted? Or had she already counted some of them double? 137 she reminded herself, taking care not to lose count. Her steps echoed a steady, slow rhythm through the empty streets. She was alone. And finally, she had gotten used to that. She smiled when a shooting star passed right over her head.
The lights turned off. “It’s one o’clock,” she thought. And she had lost her number. “S***!” The whisper of her voice tore through the silence. A bird took flight somewhere, but silence fell once more. Deeper still than before. Jessica stood in the center of the town square. Her breath drifted into the night and stopped. A soft breeze arose and got caught in her red dress. She felt a shiver crawl down along her arms and legs. But she wasn’t cold. She closed her eyes and allowed the darkness to wrap around her like a warm blanket. Time stopped. Or maybe it sped up. She breathed a deep and silent breath. With the cool summer air rushing through her empty lungs, she felt alive one last time. Surrounded by strangers; all blissfully unaware of what would happen in their sleep. Another slow breath fought against her pounding heart. She opened her eyes, looking straight into his. An invisible bat flew overhead, chasing invisible insects through the dark. A fitting metaphor. But Jessica didn’t notice. Her eyes fixed into his, she knew exactly what was coming.