Noah lived surprisingly close to the square; it took me less than five minutes of vigorous walking to get there. It was early evening, and I was just in time to watch the switch from day to nocturnal hours. I had heard of this, the way the lights switched over at exactly twilight every single day, but I had never witnessed it firsthand. I hung back in the deep shadows cast by tall trees, across the street from the square proper, and several blocks from any businesses.
I had the feeling that I didn’t belong there, not without an Old Towner like Noah to guide me, so I hugged the edge of the residential district and watched as the sun disappeared into a soft blanket of twilight clouds, and the trees of the park came alive with twinkling white lights draped through their branches. I couldn’t count the number or species of trees that were lit up. I only knew that they were beautiful. I suppressed an irrational desire to run into the park, strip off my shoes, and climb them like the child I’d never been. Perhaps it was Fear that held me back; his icy presence was still at my elbow, motionless and saying nothing. It was enough to remind me that I was not like these folks who paused momentarily in their day’s work to stop and watch the change. Every watching face seemed enraptured, as if it was a spectacle they didn’t see every single day of their lives, and I envied them their eclectic, busy little lives surrounded by so much strange beauty. Right then, the last thing I wanted to do was go home and face the fact that I’d ditched lunch with my father, let alone broken the unspoken command that I was never ever to leave the house without protection of some kind.