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Under The Stars

Thea:

It’s getting colder.

I needed to grab a heavier jacket tonight before leaving around four in the morning. I had stepped out of the door and the second the air surrounded me, goosebumps raised on my skin from the cold wind.

So now, instead of my lightweight sweaters i’ve grown fond of, I needed to add a fleece to the mix tonight.

I’ve just dipped under the chain to the park when my movements halt suddenly when I hear voices.

It’s rare to see people at this time, especially in the woods. So this is certainly new and quite frankly, scary.

I’ve read enough books to know that these people could most certainly muggers, or kidnappers, or murderers!

I slip my bag off my shoulder and place it behind a tree as I gently pick up a rather large looking stick. I weigh it in my hands and practice a few swings. I think this could work to take out a murderer or two.

What if they have guns?

I freeze, the stick still in a batting position. Is this really a good idea? Should I really be playing hero? I know heros have the whole ‘sacrifice for the greater good’ mentality, but I don’t necessarily believe I would sacrifice myself. I’m no hero or vigilante.

I can’t do flips or pack a punch. The best I have is this stick.

The voices start getting louder, heading in my direction.

My body is on alert. If they have guns, and they really are dangerous, they may shoot blindly if I make a noise.

My body lurches back when the two figures pop up behind me, hands on my shoulders jostling them.

“Ahh!” I fall backwards onto the ground and scream as loud as I can. My eyes are closed, stick long gone now, all I can do is continue screaming until something happens, whether it be losing my voice, hurting their ears enough to get away, or someone hears me and comes to find my dead body so at least I can have a proper funeral.

Thea Gray- you will be missed

If it was a better time to do so, I would scoff. Missed by who?

“Fucking shit! What the actual fuck?”

My eyes open cautiously in case i’m mistaken, but that sounded suspiciously like Benny.

“Thea?”

My eyes are now fully open and alert as I look between Connor and Benny. “Uh-hi″ I smile a little up at them and wave my hand.

“I think you broke something” Benny says as he holds his ear. I scrunch up my nose at him.

“Then don’t go scaring people in the woods like murders”

Benny chuckles “why did your brain jump to murders when it’s probably more logical that we were two guys just walking in the woods?”

I give him a pointed look “at four in the morning?”

He shares a look with Connor “yes”

“Any reason why? Or have you all just become vampires overnight?” I ask

Again, they share a look with each other “it’s a nice night, may as well enjoy it right?”

I blankly look at him but don’t say anything.

Benny rocks on his heels “what are you doing out here?”

I push myself up from the ground and wipe off the dirt from my pants. I cringe when I feel the roughness of my jeans scrape across the tender spots on my hands from school “As you said, it’s a nice night”

They purse their lips at my obvious use of their own words to avoid my real reason. But if they can do it, then so can i.

“Well, why don’t you come with us? We were going to the park if you want to come” Benny asks

I was going to the tracks, but obviously they can’t follow me there. It would put my anonymity at risk. And to be honest, I don’t have a back up plan considering this has never happened before. I guess I’ll have to go with them.

I’m not going to pretend i’m not excited, I’ve never really had many friends to hang out with, so I’m going to take advantage of the moment. “Yeah, I wasn’t really headed anywhere anyway” I lie

Benny gives me a perplexed look but drops it as Connor guides me in the direction they were headed.

“It’s not too far away, maybe ten minutes or so. It’s a park I used to come to when I was younger. It’s pretty nice. Especially at night” Benny explains as we walk

I look over to him “why is it better at night?”

“Well, it’s tucked in closer to the edge of the trees, away from the lights on the streets so on certain nights the stars are more visible. In my opinion, it’s gorgeous” Benny takes a hand and runs it through his hair and chuckles nervously “it’s a little silly, but I guess I grew up with it so it means more to me”

I look at him seriously “it’s not silly. Its beautiful, and incredibly cute that you enjoy it so much”

His head jerks back “cute?”

Connor clasps his hands together and looks at us “aww! Benny is blushing!”

Benny glares at him and rubs at his face as if his pink cheeks would just wipe away with his touch.

As we continue walking for a bit, we cross the street and step onto the curb of the beginning of the park. The grass is soft under my shoes and we get farther from the light illuminating the street, and closer to the playground, which is set farther away, tucked into the darkness.

While this should seem creepy, walking to an empty park with two guys you aren’t even sure are your friends in the dark, it’s not.

The atmosphere is almost calm. The cool air sweeps around us and the silence isn’t awkward. It’s like we’re all moving with the same goal, varying emotions.

Personally, I’m excited. I’m eager to see the park, sit on the swings, go down the slide, all while the stars are starting to shine down. Like twinkling glitter in the sky.

“Thea.. Connor..” Benny says slowly and quietly

We look over to him, confused at his tone of voice. I shriek and my nerves jump when he loudly calls out “race you to the swings!”

When I’m composed, I dont spare Connor another glance before I take off running. “Oh shit! I hear Connor exclaim from behind me.

I love a challenge

So while I gain on Benny, Connor catches up to me. As Connor approaches from behind me, he calls out “cmon Thea! We can beat him. He cheats because he knows he’s slow!”

“Screw you!” Benny Calls as we begin to pass him

I basically throw myself at the swings when I get there about the same time as Connor

Benny comes running over and collapses onto the grass “holy crap you’re fast”

I giggle at him “try to not underestimate your opponents next time”

Connor snorts “or overestimate yourself”

Benny rolls over onto his back as he sticks his tongue out at him. I giggle again and Benny Hops up from the ground and moves behind my swing. I twist around to try and see him but I immediately center myself when I feel a push on my back and my swing goes upward.

I hold the chains next to my swing, my feet in tune as Benny pushes me higher.

Connor, who is still close to the ground, turns to look at Benny and flutters his eyes “wanna push my swing next?”

Benny’s expression is thoroughly unamused “no”

Connors shoulders fall “oh c’mon. How am I supposed to get any higher without help?”

I release my grip from the swing and push my body off and for a second I’m flying. Then my feet land hard on the ground. I turn and run behind Connors swing “i’ll help you!”

“Thea!” Benny whines “we were supposed to team up!”

I point a finger at him “Connor is our friend, Benny, we’re nice to friends”

It’s then I notice that I just classified us as friends. Everything in me seems to pause. I wait for the moment of rejection. Laughter, something to show me how silly im being.

This all may be because i’ve never had much success with friends, or maybe because i’m really pulled to this group of guys, but either way, I internally freak out about what I just said.

However, Connor just laughs and points at benny “ha”

Benny rolls his eyes and moves back to the front of the swings and resumes his position of laying on the grass.

On his back, he looks up to the sky and instinctively I do the same. And the sight before me is breathtaking. Stars cover the sky in thousands of lights. They look as though someone tossed glitter up and it stuck.

Occasionally an airplane would fly across with its blinking lights, sometimes clouds would pass over, but it never failed to astound me. “It’s beautiful” I whispered

They both hum in agreement while we all look up to the sky. Sometimes I wonder if others are looking down from somewhere far far above. I would hope they look down and see me and be proud. I would want my mom to be proud of what I do and why. After all, I paint for her.

I would hope she would be happy to see me as I am. I know I’m not the most ideal for really anyone. I’m shy, awkward, and quite frankly not much fun to be around, but I’m trying. And I hope she’s proud of the progress I’ve made.

I startle when I feel a hand on my shoulder. Connor looks at me and smiles softly “it’s nice isn’t it?”

I nod and glance back up at the glittering sky “so gorgeous”

Connor starts to lightly push me on the swing “we used to come here, all of us. It’s not all that much but I suppose it special to us”

“Why would you come here?” I ask curiously

I look to Benny when he sighs heavily. “It was late at night. Around this time I suppose. My parents can be-” he scrunches his face for a moment while he struggles for the right words “overbearing..sometimes. They can just get a bit much and one night the house was just too suffocating. So I went out”

It quiet for a moment before he continues “I just wandered for a while. For a few moments I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back. But I was only fourteen and knew I wasn’t going to get very far, no matter how unhappy I was”

I can’t help but frown in the darkness. Why was he so unhappy? Why were his parents overbearing? I want to know the answers but this is his story, and he’ll tell it when he decides.

“It was actually a mistake. I didn’t mean to come to this park. But as I mentioned, it was late and dark. So I ended up coming upon it by mistake”

He sighs “I’ve always loved the stars. They make everything just so.. Magical. I guess it gave me peace of mind. And it just became my spot to come too”

There’s still just so much I want to know. But I don’t talk, glad he shared what he did. “Thanks for sharing”

He hums but doesn’t say much else. When Bennys watch lights up, he flips his wrist to read whatever pops up on the screen. He suddenly tenses and I’m extremely startled when he sits up quickly and spits out “damn it!”

He stands and starts brushing himself off. Connor is instantly alert “what happened?” he sounds like he may already know whats going on, but im very lost.

Benny turns to me “i’m so sorry Thea, but we need to leave. We’ll walk you home if you’d like”

I shake my head lightly “it’s okay. My house isn’t that far, i’ll see you guys at school”

Benny bites his lip “i’m not sure i’ll be at school tomorrow”

I give him a quizzical look and he flicks his eyes up to the stars for a moment before returning to mine. “Doctors appointment” he mutters

I tilt my head. I’m not sure what happened. Things seemed so nice earlier, now the atmosphere is anxious and thick. “Are you okay?” I ask not about his appointment, but his reaction to whatever notification he got on his watch

He nods and holds his hand out to me. I take it and he pulls me gently from the swing “i’ll see you soon okay?” he says as he pulls me into a hug

It’s my turn to nod as he releases me and we go separate ways, me back to my house, and them to somewhere I don’t know.

When I return home, I make my way up towards the shower wondering what exactly happened back there?

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