Incoherent negotiations, a hug goodnight, and I'm out the door, down the stairs, pulling on my jacket. Night soaked up the day's warmth while I was inside, and, still thirsty, it sucks heat from me. The campus is deserted at this hour on a Monday, and the unexpected chill of the air matches the unexpected unease that seeps into me. Here I am alone, walking in the dark. The streetlights cast my shadow on the ground before me, a slight figure fringed by the shades of my hair fluttering in the cool.
Under the lamps, boys in baseball caps and backpacks wait for the bus. My road leads away, half a mile between the trees. I shiver, and wish you were with me. Irrational, but I feel abandoned. What's the use of a warm hand on my back when we're inside in the light? Now that the cold has wrapped around me, I need a warm arm, a solid presence. But you are back there in the building, so I walk home alone. I feel so small in this vast night.
But I get back safe, and later you apologize for not looking out for me, and I know that in the bright morning, the fear I felt walking tonight will seem as distant, as inconceivable, as the darkness that permeates the world now.