It was nighttime, around one o'clock in the morning. Jude put his car in park outside of a quaint house with the porch lights on, as if the residents were expecting someone of importance at this late hour. The passenger side door opened and a beautiful girl stepped out, a beautiful girl he didn't recognize. She had dark brown hair that dipped just below her shoulders and deep, penetrating brown eyes that could read his thoughts; that she was reading his thoughts.
"Thanks, I had a good time tonight," she told Jude in a low, whispered voice. She smelled fantastic, a smell he couldn't recognize but was familiar, like seeing a face in a crowd that you once knew but have forgotten. She crawled back into his car, her knees on the car seat, and leaned over and gave him a kiss on his cheek, her lips soft to the touch. She retreated out of his car again. "Will you pick me up tomorrow, before school?"
"Yeah," Jude replied; his voice was just as low and hushed, as if someone would hear them. "Will your parents be mad that you're home so late?"
"Maybe, I'll just be extra quiet," she teased. She crawled back into the car and gave Jude another kiss, then shied away. She blushed. He blushed. She closed the car door quietly and drew a heart on the window, smiled, then turned towards her parent's lighted house, as if they were expecting someone important.
Jude put the car in drive and drove off as quietly as he could. He didn't want to wake her parents or her neighbors. Jude drove through her neighborhood; each house the same, every driveway the same, all of the yards the same. He reached his home, perched above the neighborhood on a hill with three lights on, one of which was his room on the second floor.
It was nighttime again, the days blurring together till the stillness of the night took over. They were driving on an old country road. They kept passing abandoned barns and burned out houses; empty shells of a previous life, their occupants moving on. She sat next to Jude, trying to find a frequency on the radio that wasn't static. She became annoyed, her beautiful face transforming into repulsiveness as it twisted in frustration. Giving up, she sat back and relaxed, her face reflecting her emotions just as much as the moon was reflecting off of her delicate skin. He looked over at her, momentarily taking his eyes off the road. She was deep in thought as the radio hissed in static. He turned it off.
"Hey," she muttered, still in deep thought. "I have an idea for a new t-shirt."
"Oh?" Jude feigned interest, his mind and eyes now focused on the road.
"Yep, it's really cool. I'll have to show you the next time you stop by my house."
"That would be nice," Jude replied. He didn't really care about it that much; sometimes enjoyable conversations became irritating. Somehow they ended up at his home on the hill, with the three lights on. She turned off his light on the second floor. They slept.
It was the next morning and she was gone, so it goes. Jude thought it was special, but it was hard to tell. He did love her, at least he thought he did, that was hard to tell too. He crawled back into his bed and slowly pulled the comforter over his head, leaving the light in my room off. He wept.
They were in the car again and it was nighttime, naturally. It was a day or two later, she looked a little embarrassed but she didn't talk. Jude didn't talk about it either, what was the point? So they sat there in silence, driving on another country highway that no one traveled on at night. It was supposed to be haunted; the spirits luring travelers to their death, or so the saying goes. He didn't believe in it, and when he asked her, she didn't either.
"It's a stupid legend if you ask me. Just as fake as vampires, werewolves, ghosts and even god itself," she stated in a matter-of-fact tone. Jude noted her tone and disregarded her statement about God. She had a terrible childhood, or so she told him so. She told me once that her father left when she was young and that her mother committed suicide from grief. She lived with her adoptive parents who cared for her like the daughter they never had and she cared for them like the parents she once had. She still carried a chip on her shoulder.
Jude muttered something, agreeing with what she said but not meaning it. God was real, at least that's what the Pastor behind the pulpit preached. Jude wasn't sure if the Pastor was right, so he mumbled his prayers and hymns at service anyway.
She kept on talking about the universe and astronomy and how evolution disproves the existence of a higher being that burned cities to the ground because it was inhabited by faggots or that a higher power punished all of its followers for small evils committed everyday or to test a follower's faith by killing his own children in a bet.
She stopped talking, though Jude could sense that her brain was still processing the different ways that god was non-existent. He welcomed the silence; it was an opportunity to drive without having to think about her arguments. She was extremely convincing and he often had difficulty formulating his own ideas on subjects. She finally realized how one-sided the conversation had been for the past five minutes, and asked how he felt about God and the Devil, Heaven and Hell.
Jude shrugged off the question, he still couldn't decide. He told her about the Pastor behind the pulpit; she thought he was a manipulator. I told her about the hymns and prayers; she didn't understand why someone would pray when nothing good every came from it. He didn't say anything; he prays for her every night anyway.
They sat in silence for several minutes; not having anything to say. They passed several new developments, lone street lights on to welcome people who weren't coming. They passed several houses, their lights were off, save for a lone light on the second floor of a rundown cabin. We passed the home in seconds, and I gave it one last look in my rear view mirror.
"I love you." Did the words come from Jude, or her? He looked over and saw tears in her eyes. She had said it, and he didn't know what to say. She silently sobbed as he took her home in silence, her house lights still on.
Jude thought about it for awhile after he dropped her off. He found it ironic that she loved me; she can love me but not God, if He exists. Jude had never heard her tell her adoptive parents that she loved them either. It was strange that he never thought about it before, but it didn't really matter. He knew he really did love her.
It was a Sunday, a cold Sunday. She sat next to Jude at the church he dragged her to and they tried to focus on what the Pastor was saying; that they were all sinners at the mercy of God and something along the lines of if they don't repent, they will burn forever in a personal Hell. She grabbed Jude's hand and squeezed it. He looked over at her and noticed that she was weeping. The service ended and they left. The Pastor shook their hands as they walked out the door.
The next day she bought a bible, much to the delight of the sales associate at the Christian bookstore. Jude was captivated by a portrait of Christ nailed to a cross, bleeding profusely. It comforted him in a way. She came over and told Jude that she was ready to leave, so they did. He came back to the store later and decided to purchase the portrait. It cost 37. He stored it in his closet when he got back home.
Jude didn't talk to her for the next three days. She called him finally and asked if he could pick her up at her house; that she was leaving. He said ok; he was eager to see her again. He did love her, and he wanted to tell her so. Jude left his home and drove down the hill, passing yards that were cut the same, houses that were painted the same, and driveways that were paved the same. It was noon, and her porch lights were off.
She exited her house; a suitcase packed full trailing behind her. She looked different, no as beautiful as she used to look. Jude was worried. He got out of his car and helped her put her suitcase in the car's trunk. He stared at her and she gazed at him.
"So," he said to break the silence. "What's the occasion?"
"Well, I'm leaving. I locked myself in my room for the past three days, reading the whole Holy Bible I bought several days ago. Sunday changed me for the better, I'm a new person. I'm leaving to serve God and to help humanity."
Jude couldn't believe what he was hearing. She was leaving? She found god in a book and in a sermon meant to scare people, and he was now left by himself, alone. He was starting to shake. "I love you, don't you know that?"
"Yes, and I love you too, but I got to do this," a look of caring brushed over her face. "But I can't stay here anymore, in this house. I am meeting eleven other people devoted to God just like me at the airport and I need you to take me there."
Jude nodded, for what else could he do? He still loved her. They got in his car and he drove her to the airport outside of town. They got out of the car and he handed her suitcase to her. It wasn't particularly heavy, and it rested on the ground by her feet.
"Will I ever see you again?" Jude asked, grief creeping behind his voice. He felt the tears start to build up like flood waters at a dam.
"Perhaps one day you will. We'll see." They stood there silently for several seconds, and then she stood on her toes and kissed Jude on the forehead. She picked up her suitcase and headed towards the terminal, looked back once and waved. He waved back.
Jude waited till he saw her plane take off. It flew off majestically into the sky, into the clouds and into heaven. He drove home and burned the portrait in the front lawn. He couldn't bear looking at Jesus bleeding. He turned off his light upstairs and got back into his car, driving to the nearest overpass on State Highway Six, it was approximately sixty six feet off of the river flowing below it, a winding river with several ferries based at the bottom. Jude got out of his car and jumped over the side, falling head first towards the ground with his arms spread open, like a cross turned upside down. On the way down, Jude wept.