Chapter Fifty-Five

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I woke up in the middle of the night to a pitch black ceiling and the soft hum of the heater. I could feel the soft draft against my skin, seeping in underneath the thin blanket that they'd given us for protection during the night. The bathroom night was still on, allowing a soft white glow to peek in from behind the door and allow a hint of light amidst the seemingly endless darkness.

I felt oddly relaxed. It wasn't one of those things where you wake up from an adrenaline filled dream feeling like you had to go somewhere. Actually, I couldn't remember my dream it all. It just felt fuzzy and blank. It was actually very nice, to be able to wake up without feeling afraid of my surroundings. For once, the night felt like something beautiful that I never wanted to forget.

I sat up in my bed and looked around the mostly dark room. The heater sounded so unbelievably loud in the quiet room and as I sat there, it began sounding more and more like music. That was the funny thing about silent places. If you waited long enough, you could find music in the smallest of things.

The notebook with the poem that I'd found sat next to my pillow. I'd been reading through it again, trying to decipher it to no avail. My worn boots were scattered next to my bed where one of my roommates had obviously tripped over them. My broken apart bag sat next to them, slightly open so I could put the notebook back. But it was weird, because my notebook hadn't fallen on my face or anything. It was neatly closed and by my pillow. Somebody had moved it for me to help me out. I smiled to myself, then stood up. It felt like a good night to go for a walk.

I still wasn't totally familiar with the compound, but I knew enough to know how to get to the roof. Technically, you weren't supposed to go up there unless directed by one of the generals, but I could care less. The world was ending. It was hard to find much to care about in times like these.

I tied up my boots, feeling my tired muscles awaken again. There was nothing else that I needed. I stood back up and walked out of the room, careful to leave the door creaked slightly so that I would have a way of getting back in.

The flight of steps that lead to the roof were clean and, thankfully, noiseless. The door at the top was unlocked, too, proving my good fortune. I slowly opened it and walked out onto the very top of the complex where endless stars greeted me.

From up here, you couldn't really see anything but the night sky. The ground was too far and too dark and the city was on the other side of the building. Even so, I could notice a dim glow coming from that direction.

I walked towards the edge of the building and looked down over the edge. It was difficult to make out anything in the darkness except a cut off where the ground started far below. I sat down on the very edge, not in the slightest bit afraid of that darkness. It was hard to be afraid of something that was inside of you. My eyes turned back up to the sky where the stars sat in wait for somebody to notice them.

The stars. How they could even still exist behind the clouds that had covered the world for so long was beyond me. It was hard to remember they existed even on a daily basis. They'd been there for so long...it wasn't like anyone was ever going to have to worry about missing them. It almost bothered me how undisturbed they were. Why were the stars allowed to be free from the pain and death that covered the earth while the rest of us suffered and watched them from below?

In the midst of my thoughts, I hadn't heard the door opening again as somebody else came up on the roof. I hadn't even realized somebody else had been there at all until Asten sat down beside me at the edge of the building. He looked a bit anxious about putting his legs over, but after looking at me for a few seconds, he allowed himself to sit the way I was.

"Do you just like following me?" He had seemed to always be with me wherever I was. I didn't understand how he was able to even keep up with my constant moving.

"No. I just happen to notice when you're gone easily," Asten replied with a shrug. He smiled at me for a second before looking up to the sky with me. He seemed intrigued, like he had never really taken the time to look up at the infinite beauty that lay over us.

"Why is that?" I asked. The entire earth felt nearly as silent as our room had. The only difference was that now I could hear the breeze as it hit my skin mixed in with an undertone of cars driving in the distance. They must have been coming from the Equator.

Asten tilted his head to the side, continuing to stare upward. "Because you need it." He didn't say anything else. Just those words. And I realized that for the first time in nearly half a year, I didn't feel so alone. I'd been trying to make myself feel alone so I wouldn't get hurt again like I had the first time. But I was starting to realize that maybe being alone wasn't the best option. Maybe some people were worth getting hurt for.

I could feel Asten's gaze move away from the mesmerizing sky. It was so beautiful I was tempted to just sit there forever, never moving, never going back downstairs. I wished that I could just sit there for decades and decades, waiting for all of this to be over. Waiting for everyone to come back and my life to return to how it had been before. Waiting to feel again, to feel something besides constant sadness and fear. Waiting for someone to break me out of my cage.

He was staring at me. I looked away from the sky to find his bright gray eyes looking straight at me. Out of everyone in the Snow Society I knew him the most. He'd been there in the beginning, even though he betrayed me. He hadn't disappeared like everyone else in my life. And his eyes were so uniquely beautiful underneath the starlight. The gray sparkled with life, life that was hard to find anywhere in our broken down world.

My mouth opened and a soft sigh fell from my lips. I didn't know how to speak. Nor had I realized just how close he'd sat to me on the edge. It felt so much closer now that we were actually facing each other. The world seemed to freeze for a moment and all I wanted was to hold this moment in my hands for eternity. The two of us, sitting together, equally isolated from humanity for too long, equally untrustworthy, equally in need of each other.

For once, the sadness in my heart seemed to morph into something different. A fluttering in my chest. Something so minuscule I wanted to deny it. But I couldn't.

He moved closer to me and I continued to sit there feeling my heart quicken. His face was mere inches from mine. The stars lit up the rooftop, causing his gray eyes to ignite my heart.

A soft breeze blew across the roof and the moment broke. I looked away suddenly, feeling a warm blush hit my cheeks just as the cold subsided.

"We should....go back....," I said quietly, looking down at the concrete roof. Gray. Neither black nor white, just something in between. Something that couldn't just be categorized into perfect categories. Gray. Everything always was so gray. 

He nodded and stood up, seeming disappointed. I got up a couple seconds later.

We exited the rooftop together as the immortal stars continued watching in the night.

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