Noctis

Aaliyah fixed her hijab around her face, as her butt started to tingle on the stone ledge. Insomnia was a pain she prayed for a cure to constantly. Eyes tingling, she laid backward on her blanket, arms behind her head. The moon hung overhead, large and white. Its gray craters seemed darker tonight, and Aaliyah watched the clouds pass over the surface, a wispy haze that if she wasn’t paying attention to, she’d miss.

The night was quiet, except for the occasional flit of an insect somewhere in the trees behind her. Tonight was cool, and the wind blew over her blouse as she took a deep breath of honeysuckle filled air.

“It’s a beautiful night isn’t it?” Behind her stood in a man in a long, black jacket. The hood over his head didn’t do much to hide his smooth white skin. 

Aaliyah sat up, hand going into her pocket, grasping onto her pepper spray. “What do you want?”

“To see you closer, if that’s ok. I’ve worked up enough courage to say hello, so please don’t spray me with that contraption.” He was squatting on a ledge higher than hers, slowly slipping off the stone surface, his movements mirrored a shadow across the ground.

“Watch me?” Aaliyah sat up on her knees, attempting to get a better vantage point.

The man moved, but her eyes didn’t seem to catch him. Every time she blinked he got closer, until he was at the edge of her blanket. Crouching down, she could see his wide nose and narrow eyes. As he licked his lips he indicated the blanket, before him. “May I sit?” Not waiting for her response he sat down.

She tried to slow her heart down, tried to remain calm and passive as to not alert him. “I think I should leave actually.”

“Don’t be afraid, I swear I won’t hurt you. I couldn’t anyway.” He sat down on her blanket, his hands the color of the moon. He tried to smile, patting the area next to him. “You have a hard time sleeping, I can tell you why.”

As he turned his face towards Aaliyah, she noticed how black his eyes were, the whole pupil seemed to cover his sclera, it made a chill race down her spine. “I have to go home. It’s cold, keep the blanket.”

Aaliyah walked as fast as her legs would carry her, stumbling into her car, she fumbled with her keys to start it. Looking back over the field she noticed he was laying down now, arms behind his head as he observed the moon.

For the next week, she didn’t go back to the field. Aaliyah paced in her room, making her mother knock at her door at 3 AM. “I can hear you pacing and typing in here. Why don’t you go for your walk?”

She didn’t want to alarm her mother about the strange man. “I don’t know, I’m sorry. Am I keeping you up?”

Her mother crossing the room, touching her uncovered hair now. “You don’t want to take the pills?”

“They give me horrible nightmares. I can’t remember anything from the day before.”

“Insha Allah.” Her mother whispered as she kissed her head. “One day this wont be an issue.”

Facing the moon once more, Aaliyah watched it slowly slip away into a waning crescent. She’d have to wait for it to be full again before she truly enjoyed the night.

On the first full moon of the month, she found a new area. It was near a small river, and Aaliyah faced the water in her hatchback leaving the radio on. The quiet singing of Steve Perry and his foolish heart, made her think of her own. No sleep was to be found tonight, and Aaliyah took out a sketching pad, attempting to draw the fireflies around the river reeds.

“Back again to enjoy my night I see, don’t run away this time.” The same voice, she nearly jumped out of her skin as he stood next to the car, his arm leaning on the vehicle.

“How did you find me?” Aaliyah looked around, hijab whipping around her face.

His smile was gummy, his eyes shrinking. “I always know where you are.”

“That’s creepy. Who are you? What’s your name?” Aaliyah drew her legs up towards her, holding the pencil tight in her hand.

Holding out his hand to shake, the mans smile faded from his face. He was serious again. “Noctis is appropriate. Though in time you may come up with another name for me.”

“Noctis.” 

Recognition drifted through her mind. “Latin for the night. Is this a joke?” Aaliyah took his hand, cool and smooth. A pleasant wave of fatigue drifted over her, some remembrance wafted through Aaliyah’s mind. She knew this man, but when and where?

“I don’t joke much. So no. May I sit?” He indicated the spot next to her. Still holding onto her hand. “Drop the pencil. I told you, I’m not going to hurt you. I swear.”

His eyes were different now, his pupils visible, he seemed more human. His hand was still clasping on hers, and Aaliyah noticed that he was rubbing his thumb over her knuckles. Why did this feel so familiar?

“You’re waiting for me to invite you this time?”

His gummy smile appeared again. “Last time I frightened you. I apologize.”

“Forgiven.” Letting her hand go he climbed inside and sat next to her. “Noctis…so what’s this about following me?”

He took a deep breath. “You’re right about my name meaning the night. You could say I am looking for my moon.” It was the way he turned towards her, deliberate and slow. Aaliyah felt her lungs fill with sweet air as he closed the space between them. “I’ve been looking for you, and night is the only place you know to find me.”

“Find you?” 

Noctis fingers crept up her cheek, cupping warm flesh as memories flashed through Aaliyah’s mind. She saw through her own eyes, but in another time, another place. 

“It’s hard for you to sleep because you’re supposed to be awake with me,” Noctis whispered, his eyes solid black once more.

Aaliyah found sleep catching her quickly, consuming her being with exhaustion. “What?” 

“I’ll let you sleep for tonight.” Noctis covered her mouth with his own, tasting her lips.

This was familiar, and instead of the shock of panic she expected to feel, Aaliyah found herself drifting into this strange man. The warmth and comfort he provided sang to her in a way she hadn’t felt since she was a child. Just as she wanted to pull away and ask him how could he do this, how did she know him; the lingering edge of sleep ebbed over her until she closed her eyes and everything went dark.



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