A/N: Based on "Airplanes," by Haley Williams and B.O.B.
Maggie twirled the noodle around her fork and stared at her boyfriend through the tines. Henry smiled nervously back at her. It was their first date, and it had gone immediately from nice to awkward when they almost held hands and were interrupted by the waiter. Neither had spoken since their meals had arrived.
Despite the tension, they were enjoying themselves. She really wanted everything to work out, especially after Jasper had worked so hard to push them together and made such a big deal over tonight. Henry was also hopeful. He did like Maggie, and this was not only his first date with her. He'd never had a girlfriend before, and he was worriedly anticipating some catastrophe. His cousin, who also must have been expecting one, had stayed up late with him the previous night and taught him everything he knew about date etiquette. Around midnight, when Henry still hadn't learned anything, Jasper had summarized, "Just don't be you," and fallen asleep.
"Would you two be interested in any dessert?" said the waiter, practically materializing in front of their table.
"Um…" said Henry, looking across the table. Maggie shook her head. "No, thank-you," he replied cheerfully. "We're ready for the check." The waiter produced it out of a deep pocket on his apron, set it on the table, and walked away. Just as he was taking out his wallet, Henry's cell phone rang. He answered it, still looking a bit bemused with the device even after Jasper's thorough instruction. "Uncle Bryan?" Maggie watched with concern as his chipper attitude evaporated, and his expression grew grave. "We'll be right there," he said and fumbled with the "End call" button.
"What happened?"she said. He stood up and tossed a twenty on the table.
"Jasper was in an accident," he said, helping her out of the booth. "He's in the hospital."
That night was all lights and noise for Henry, nothing fitting together. Pieces of what had happened were embedded in his memory, consequences blaring at him without any reason or explanation. Uncle Bryan, sitting next to a hospital bed and crying, actually crying. Jasper, pale and motionless on a railed cot. Maggie, clutching his clammy hand and not speaking a word. A straight green line that stretched on for eternity.
Hours later, Henry was lying in his hammock, eyes squeezed shut and hoping for sleep. He couldn't drift off. It was impossible to do anything with Jasper's empty bed screaming at him. He gave up the hammock, finally, and walked over to the bed. He hadn't used one in years, and it felt alien to him, and yet somehow familiar. He curled up under the covers and sobbed quietly, until his throat was sore and his eyes were red, then he finally dozed off into a tormented sleep.
The next few weeks were a blur of wilting flowers and terrible silences. He avoided Maggie in school. He saw her, at the funeral, toeing the grave like she was contemplating jumping into it. That night, she shocked Henry by sneaking out of her house and climbing up to his window. He was sitting on the floor with his eyes closed, legs crossed.
"Were you meditating?" she asked after he let her in.
"Praying," he corrected.
"For what?" He looked down at her deep, worried eyes, something in them broken. He could see himself reflected in them, but it was hard to tell if the pain was his own, or if it came from her troubled eyes.
"I don't know."
They met again a few nights later in his backyard. "Henry, why did you tell me to come?" she whispered as he let her through the gate. "I don't like sneaking out."
"I'm leaving," he said abruptly, tasting the bitter words on his lips. Her expression crumpled.
"I can't stay here," he explained. "Every morning when I walk down to breakfast, Uncle Bryan looks at me and winces. Every night I'm stuck up in that empty room. Sometimes I can't even look at you, because it just reminds me…" His voice cracked. "My parents are in Egypt. I'm flying out to meet them tomorrow." He wasn't watching her, so he was surprised when he felt her hands on his shoulders, and then she kissed him.
Her hunger and need and guilt pulsed through his lips, but it only echoed back to her and drenched her once again in agony. She broke the kiss as something bright flew past them overhead. She leaned over his shoulder to watch it. It was an airplane.
"I thought it was a shooting star," she murmured.
"Let's pretend it is," he said, kissing her again.
He carried everything he owned in a backpack slung over his shoulder, and in his left hand he clutched a stiff ticket. He'd said his goodbyes. It was time to go. Time to escape. Time to let it all slip away. Moving away meant moving on. Forgetting. He headed off through the airport, hurrying to catch the right plane. If he didn't make that, then he'd switch his flight, and he'd be right back at it by the end of the night.