God. Picture that night in the moment.
Your best friend, the girl you love most in the world, joined at your hip since childhood, beautiful and sweet and so, so scared of things she will not name—she’s gone. Sleepwalked right out the door in only her nightdress. You give chase in barely more.
The town is empty. Good.
The town is empty. Has a town ever been so empty, even at night, in anything but a nightmare? Are you dreaming?
She is sitting in your seat in the graveyard. She is not alone.
Hindsight and the poetry you will have liberty to muffle the vision with will repaint the dark figure as a beast, but what do you think, really think, in that instant? What is the only thing you can think of when your best friend is so beautiful, so lost, so senseless in mobile sleep and slumped half-dressed under the moonlight, open to whatever company might invite himself?
Why can you go no faster? What is wrong with your legs?
The shadow turns up his pale face. Eyes all red. Seeing you—yes, yes, you are a witness! Get away! Get away from her!
(Please, God, let him be the sort to run. Let him not have any killing thing in his hand.)
He is gone. But why does she breathe like that? Home. You must get her home. Unseen. In nightdresses, in the moon-scratched dark, through town.
Nobody sees you, not even the wandering man who stumbles by your alcove. A miracle.
(Why do you still feel watched?)