“I know you’re there,” I said, pitching my voice towards the darkness. It echoed down the empty street. “We need to talk.” I waited, forcing myself not to move away, not to look away. My heart pounded in my ears and I took a deep breath to steady myself. A car moved down the road towards me and I watched it pass, the headlights glaring and then receding as it rounded the corner of the next street.
His shadow stretched out before him as he moved on to the sidewalk under the glow of the streetlamp. He said nothing, only stared at me with a bemused expression. I wanted to say something else, but found that now I could only stare back. He wore the same long dark coat and gloves he always wore, his clothes tailored, but nondescript, his hair disheveled, but not untidy. The familiar feeling of tranquility settled on me as he moved closer and my head swam as if each of my thoughts was sinking slowly through deep water. Looking up at him, his stormy grey eyes were as sad and as haunting as I remembered them.
We stood staring at each other silently, as if the other was something new and remarkable. I was puzzled by my lack of speech. After all of this time, there were so many things I had wanted to say to him. Why wasn’t I talking? Reaching up to touch my throat, I frowned, trying to remember how to voice the questions that waited patiently for articulation. Seeming to notice my confusion, his expression became strained and his eyes guarded. He stared down at his gloved hands as if he was unable to bear witness to my struggle for words.
Minutes passed and neither of us moved.
Distantly troubled, I watched as he confronted whatever demons were wrestling within him. Eventually, his shoulders slumped in defeat and he nodded to himself – an acknowledgement that a decision had been made.
Moving slowly, he took off his gloves and placed them in his coat pocket, raised his hand towards my face with infinite care, and lightly touched my cheek. He let his fingers trace the line of my jaw, his expression now unfathomable as a shiver raced down my back.
“Hello,” he said.
I finally found my voice and my eyes locked on his. “Who are you?”
“My name is Eaden,” he said.
I nodded. It was a start.
“We need to talk,” I said again. It was unlikely that I had ever been guilty of such an understatement.
He stepped closer, our bodies almost touching. I was aware of every inch of him, as if somehow he had become an extension of me, another limb once lost and now recovered. My heart rallied and sped up as I tilted my head to study him. Sighing, he raised his eyes to the sky and then closed them, shaking his head before looking back down at me, a hint of a smile dancing around his lips.
“I’ll see you in the morning, Rachel,” he said and then turned and walked away. Within a few heartbeats he was hidden amongst the shadows once again.
“Eaden,” I said and went inside.