I was fumbling with the matches when he put a hand on my arm. In the dark, hearing the breeze search through the dry grass, and hiss when it didn’t find what it was looking for, I jumped. The house was two dozen strides behind us, too far away, and the sky felt like it was a thousand miles above my head. I was standing on the soft summer ground, and might as well have been floating between stars for all the security it gave.
“Don’t,” he whispered, pleading, though he obviously didn’t have any of my jitters.
I stared at him. It took me a long time to realize that he couldn’t see my face and gather a readable response. “Why not?” I asked.
“If you light that lamp, the dark…” He hesitated. “… turns into something.”
“Yeah,” I said. I almost laughed, and wished that I had. It would have felt a little warmer than that midnight chill. “Light. It would turn the darkness into light.”
He shook his head. I heard his collar rustle, and caught the glint off his hair. “Walls,” he said. “It just makes it four walls around us that we can’t see through, but don’t keep a drem thing out.”
I paused too, hands still ready to strike the match, but glancing over my shoulder now. I didn’t want to know what was out there that might want to get up close with us. Housecats, probably, but in the dark, they sounded the same as jungle stalkers.
“Come on,” he said. “Right now, we’re sitting in the middle of a thousand open miles.” He spread his arms. “Just give it time. You’ll see it in a minute.”
I raised my eyebrows. I didn’t care that he couldn’t see me this time.
“Don’t lock us in,” he said, voice dropping back into the quiet plea from before.
Slowly, I dropped my hands to my sides. I blinked against the dark, clearing it second by second, and counting shallow breaths while I waited. He breathed deep, and after a little while, I saw the edges of his smile.