Silent; the listeners.
“It’s not working,” Winnie said as she hit the butt of the flashlight against her palm.
“Here, let me see it,” Ridley said impatiently.
It was 3 a.m. in Fallwater, Nebraska, and Ridley and Winnie were likely the only two souls stirring in the frigid night. Fallwater was a town small enough that the stars were among the few treasured sources of entertainment the whistle-stop suburb had to offer.
The town had become one of the few remaining places one could gaze into the heavens and with regularity expect to see stars. Not just any stars; they were brilliant, like the embers of fireworks frozen in time against the pitch of the night. The sky was unencumbered by light pollution, which plagues the larger nearby cities. Tonight, was no exception, the stars shimmered gloriously against the deep, cloaked night, and it seemed silly all at once to Ridley that they even needed the second flashlight.
Screwing the back of the flashlight back into place and flipping the switch several times, Ridley said, “I can see just fine. One flashlight is plenty. Besides, ghost hunting is better without lights.” Ridley arced the flashlight overhead in a readied position—Winnie was unsure why he looked as though he were trying to heave it as far as he could, this wasn’t a farm-team tryout.
“NO!” Yelled Winnie. “Give it here.”
“Why? It doesn’t work.”
“I know that, dummy. But I want it anyway. It makes me feel… safe. Plus, I like that it’s pink.”
Ridley wrinkled his face in confusion and said, “I thought I made you feel safe.”
Winnie shot a sarcastic look in his direction.
Reluctantly, though without argument, Ridley handed Winnie the flashlight, but not before removing the batteries and chucking them into the night. He listened intently for the sound of a smashed window, or perhaps a loud ding as they deflected off something metal. Instead, a disappointing thud as they landed in some weeds would have to suffice.
“You’re such a boy. You just need to throw something, don’t you?”
“You’re welcome! I just made your useless flashlight lighter for you. I was being a gentleman,” said Ridley, as he polished his proverbial collar.
“No, you just ensured that it has zero chance of working,” Winnie snapped back. Both she and Ridley laughed—arguing over such trivial things, as often they did in the spring of their youth.
They were in love. They had known each other since ‘one was walkin, and the other was talkin,’ Winnie’s mother would say. It was their senior year at Wakefield High and graduation was just a few short weeks away.