Midnight struck and her voices would not stop screaming. Unruly things. They were mostly just complaining that the sun was missing, ignorant of, or perhaps just ignoring the fact that if they quieted down and slept through the hours the sun would come back, big and brilliant as ever. Jevva was getting better at numbing herself toward them, but there was still an ache in the base of her bones from the pitch of them. She didn’t think anyone could completely disregard their voices. Not without ghosting, becoming a bit of the dark.
Jevva kept her head down, and her hands deep in her pockets as she worked her way around the last bend in the road before the bridge. The moon had slipped out of the sky last night, its last ice-white sliver winking out into complete blackness, so there was no reason for her to look ahead. She couldn’t see anything but the gray edges of the road a few feet in front of her toes. The river gossiped in its bed as she approached, not caring that she could hear it, or that her ears were burning, safe in its solitude in the middle of the night.
At the bridge, Jevva waited.
The trees rustled, too far off the road, too high, too reedy for them to seem real.
The breeze kissed her cheeks soothingly.
Jevva wrapped her arms tighter around her chest, holding her coat tight around her neck and shoulders.
And finally, she heard the echo of a footstep on the wooden bridge.
“Are you there?” Ter asked, hesitant in the dark.
She took a careful stop onto the bridge as well, letting her heel fall heavily on the first board. Then she stopped. “Of course,” she whispered back.
“Then you’ve been hearing it, too?” he asked. There was already relief in his tone. She hated to crack it again, but she didn’t know her way around it.
“Mine are always loud,” she murmured.
There was a pause. Then he laughed dryly at himself. “Right,” he said.
She looked away from him, blinking at the river she couldn’t see. It took her a moment to feel silly, turning away from one blind thing in favor of another. She smiled to herself, and was glad he couldn’t see it.
“There is something coming, I think,” she said. She had meant to sound speculative. Her quiet made it gentle and earnest. “It’s always easiest to feel it in the dark.”
There was a long pause. Ter didn’t respond. She assumed he was nodding.
“I don’t think it’s as big as it feels though,” she said. Her bones ached, and she wasn’t sure how she could say that with the same verity. But there it was. Her smile stuck, held, wrote itself deeper into her skin. “The dark dramatizes everything, too.”
“So…” Ter said. “I dragged you out of town in the middle of the night for nothing?”
Jevva almost laughed. Then she just shook her head. “No,” she told him. “Just not for a disaster. Which is good. If you always brought me disasters, I might stop agreeing to meet you.”
“Right,” he said. And she thought she heard him on the edge of laughter, too, maybe even dangling his toes over the fall.
“I do have enough disasters of my own,” she reminded him.
Ter chuckled in the dark.
Jevva took a deep breath, and let the cool ease into her bones, smiling wide.