The End of Night by Mark Joseph Kevlock

Fiction

“So, you’re moving away soon, huh?” Jessica said.

“Yeah,” Todd said.

“To a place where it never gets dark?”

“Not for six months, it doesn’t,” Todd said. “We leave tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” Jessie said.

“Yeah,” Todd said.

It was dusk. The neighborhood was quiet. The summer was almost gone.

“I guess it’ll be weird,” Jessie said, “living in daylight all the time.”

“Sure,” Todd said.

“It makes me think of zombies roaming around at two o’clock in the morning in broad daylight.”

“I’ll watch out for them,” Todd said.

Usually after such a comment, Jessie would pinch him or punch him in the leg. Today she just didn’t have the energy.

“You’re really leaving,” Jessie said. “And you’re never coming back.”

“I guess not. My parents sold the house.”

“I don’t want anybody else living there,” Jessie said. “I don’t want new neighbors.”

“Yeah,” Todd said. “I’ll have new neighbors, too.”

It occurred to Jessie the terrible finality that change brought to life. One day everything is comfortably the same. The next it isn’t.

“I’ve gotta be packing and stuff,” Todd said. “My baseball cards and comic books….”

“Not yet,” Jessie said.

“Not yet?”

“No, not yet,” Jessie said.

“Okay,” Todd said. “Not yet.”

They stood on opposite sides of the fence, as usual. The fence itself was made of rotting, dark pickets decades past old. The whole thing, one day, would just collapse or fall over.

“We always seem to stand out here like this,” Todd said, “and we never really talk about anything.”

“I know,” Jessie said.

“We’ve been doing it since we were about seven years old,” Todd said.

“I know,” Jessie said.

“I might as well ask you, since I’m leaving….”

“Ask me what?” Jessie said.

“Naw. Never mind,” Todd said.

Objects had begun losing their clarity. Shadows were taking over.

“I guess this is your last night,” Jessie said, “in more ways than one.”

“Yeah,” Todd said. “No more darkness.”

“No more darkness,” Jessie said.

“I’ll miss the moon,” Todd said. “I like moonlight.”

“Moonlight is nice,” Jessie said.

No one said anything after that. Screen doors showed yellow kitchen light, in backyards up and down the block. Lightning bugs came out.

“We had a lot of great summers,” Jessie said, “goofing around out here.”

“Yeah,” Todd said.

“We played tag ball and made up army shows and played on your gym set a lot,” Jessie said.

“I don’t wanna go,” Todd said.

“What?”

“I don’t wanna move away,” Todd said. “Just because my dad got a new job, so what? I’d rather stay here.”

“I’d rather you did, too,” Jessie said.

“I wish I was old enough,” Todd said.

“Maybe when you are old enough,” Jessie said, “you’ll decide to move back.”

“It wouldn’t be the same,” Todd said. “It would be too late. Everything would be gone.”

Jessie took a breath and closed her eyes.

“I wouldn’t be,” she said.

“Sure you would,” Todd said. “You’ll grow up and go to college, because you’re smart. You’ll leave, too, and you won’t ever come back.”

“Maybe I won’t leave,” Jessie said. “Maybe I’ll never leave.”

“What kind of talk is that?”

“I don’t know,” Jessie said. “Sometimes I just feel like my life is here, and I won’t ever leave it.”

Todd jammed his fingertips into his back pockets. That was a sign, always, that he was getting ready to say good night.

“Well….” Todd said.

“Wait,” Jessie said.

“What am I waiting for?”

“I don’t know,” Jessie said. “Give me a minute.”

Todd began a playful countdown.

“One Mississippi. Two Mississippi….”

The fence creaked with years of weight upon it.

“Jessie?”

“Yeah?”

“I guess it’s time,” Todd said.

“I guess it is.”

“We’ll be gone early, so I have to say goodbye right now,” Todd said.

“Okay,” Jessie said.

Her sudden passivity disgusted her.

“You’ve been a great friend,” Todd said. “The best.”

“You, too,” Jessie said.

“I’ll write you from the new place,” Todd said, “to tell you how weird it is.”

“Okay,” Jessie said. She knew Todd had never written a letter in his life.

“I won’t forget you,” Todd said.

“I won’t forget you, either,” Jessie said.

Crickets were chirping. The lightning bugs were gone. It was the beginning of night.

“I’ll miss you, Jessie.”

“I’ll miss you, Todd.”

“Take care.”

“You, too.”

They each turned from the fence and took a step away. Then they both hesitated. Then they took another step.

Biography
In 2018 Mark Joseph Kevlock’s fiction has appeared or is set to appear in more than two dozen publications, including 365 Tomorrows, Into The Void, The First Line, Grievous Angel, Bewildering Stories, The Starlit Path, Down in the Dirt, and Flash Fiction Magazine. He has also written for DC Comics.

Image: Pixabay.com