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The Man With the Black Hood knocked on my door last night, but I refused to answer his calling card. He came around and tapped on the window glass of my bedroom and that’s when I knew I couldn’t ignore him any longer. My mother always told me to never look him directly in the eye, but sometimes I don’t listen. Tonight proved to be my biggest mistake. His eyes met mine and with one fearful gaze he held me spellbound. I couldn’t resist the pull from the palm of his hand as he placed it against the windowpane. Drizzling rain oozed between his skin and the glass. I reached up and placed my hand against his and watched as the water turned red at my touch.
The Man With the Black Hood motioned for me to open the window. My shaking hands unlatched the bolt and opened the shuttered window. Cold wind whistled past my face. I love the rain at night when I’m trying to fall asleep, but tonight I hated it. Even the smell of fresh, wet dirt couldn’t entice me to relax. I feared this night all my life and now it was here. Where would he take me? What would he tell me about my destiny?
With a fluid motion I crawled out the window and stood facing him. If I didn’t let go of my fear this very moment, it would follow me for the rest of my life. I needed courage, craved it, must have it. So I dropped the terror from my heart and stamped it into the ground. Water sloshed over my bare foot sending chills up my leg.
He took my hand and together we walked into the night. My toes squished through the soaked grass and the hem of my nightgown turned a mixture of brown and green, sticking to my ankles with an icy dampness. The rain blinded me and stung my eyes. I hoped we didn’t need to travel a long way. The Man With the Black Hood followed the path leading to the family cemetery and to my surprise he stopped at the gate. Turning to me, he pushed me forward, through the opening. The gate is rarely left open but tonight it swung freely as if it expected my company.
“Why are we here?” I asked, but in my heart, I already knew. I had never said goodbye to him. My heart broke when they took him away. I didn’t want to face life without him. He nudged my shoulder to move forward and I walked on toward Colton's grave. I stopped reverently beside his headstone. Falling to my knees I traced his name with my finger while my tears mingled with the raindrops on my cheeks.
Rain pelted down, splattering the mud-covered mound of dirt plastering his grave. No flowers decorated the gravesite. No sun warmed the earth. No friends gathered to send their condolences. Only cold, stinging rain.
"I don't want to be here," I screamed out. "Please. Take me away."
The Man With the Black Hood touched my cheek. Even through the freezing rain his hand felt warm. With his touch, he transported us to the lighthouse over looking the sea. Far below the cliffs, waves splashed madly against the rocks. I couldn't look down. Fear mocked my heart, saying Colton's lifeless body might still be there.
Before I could tear my eyes from the terrorizing view, we were inside the lighthouse. The very spot Colton first kissed me. He asked me to stay with him forever and I promised. I said yes and his happy laughter followed him over the side of the cliff as he ran from me, begging me to chase him. To follow him. But I couldn't.
The Man With the Black Hood removed his hood, letting it fall gently around his shoulders. When he spoke, all he said was my name. At first.
"Kaleah? You promised you would never leave me. You promised to stay with me forever," he whispered.
I trembled with joy.
"Colton? It's you?"
His lips brushed mine and his sweet scent filled the air. I melted in his embrace.
"Promise to never leave again. Promise me, Kaleah."
"But I'm not with you now. I couldn't follow you over the cliff. I knew it was dangerous. I tried to stop you, but you wouldn't listen. I was scared. I'm so sorry, Colton.
He took my hand and walked back to the edge of the cliff and pointed. I looked down, to the crashing water, foaming on the rocky beach far below. When the waves rolled back, there lay Colton's still form. I lay next to him, my fingers wrapped in his hand.