Hannah stepped onto the damp grass and walked around to the back of the house. That’s where she first saw him. His back was to her as he stood in the center of the lawn, his head craned toward the sky. There was something poetic in his stillness. Hannah stopped, hesitating to go further.
I don’t belong here, she thought. We don’t even know each other. A week ago, they would’ve been de facto enemies, avatars for the culture wars that gripped American society. Hannah chewed on her nail. The twenty feet now separating her from Curt seemed insurmountable.
She took a step backward, prepared to retreat. When she did, Hannah bumped into an azalea bush, rustling its leaves. Curt spun around. His mouth dropped open when he saw Hannah. Her presence made him speechless.
“I, uh, I thought, um…” Hannah should have remained speechless. She couldn’t seem to string together any coherent sentences to the point that Hannah waved the white flag. “I’m sorry.”
She turned to leave, her face turning red.
“Hannah?” he asked.
She stopped her exit and faced him, again. Curt had moved closer: now only ten feet separated them.
She smiled shyly, glancing down at the ground. “I didn’t know you knew my name.”
“Of course I do. We’ve had classes together,” he said, his tone flat.
“Oh.” Maybe the fact he knew her name wasn’t as startling as the fact he’d said her name, which had never happened before.
“What are you doing here?”
“You, uh, mentioned the meteor shower earlier today in the hallway, and I thought, well, I thought you shouldn’t be alone.” She shook her head slowly. “But that was probably stupid. I should go home now.”
Once again, Hannah turned to leave.
“Well, do you wanna see the meteorite shower? You came all this way…”
Hannah inhaled deeply and sucked in the corner of her mouth. She didn’t need to be on Curt’s lawn to see the meteorites. Facing him, Hannah crossed her arms.
“Yeah, okay. So what do we do? Look through a telescope or something?”
Curt shook his head. “Usually we just lay on the ground and look up.” He gestured toward a large white blanket he’d spread out on the ground.
Hannah stared at the blanket and swallowed hard. “Just lay on the ground and look up?”
“Yeah. It makes it easier on the neck. Plus, you never know where the meteorites are going to come from, so you can’t use a telescope or binoculars.”
Hannah smiled at Curt and then walked past him. She settled onto the blanket, sitting first before she laid back.
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