Feeling fairly confident, off to calculus I went. As I listened to Mr. Modic rattle off theorems, I stopped fixating on the surreal nature of my situation and started to map out next steps. By the time class ended, and I joined Michael in the hal way, I wasn’t surprised that his next letter had the same focus. I had already drafted a similar note in my head.

My Ellie—

Now that your resolve has returned, did you spend all of calculus thinking about what we should do next? I know you well. I bet you didn’t take a single note, but instead stared out the window, dreaming up a strategy.

I did the same thing.

What should we do next? The trip to Boston definitely gave us a better sense of our natures as Nephilim, and the encounter with Ezekiel linked our births to the emergence of some kind of apocalypse. Crazy as that sounds. But we need much more information in order to act next. We need to know exactly what the Nephilim are and were—creation, history, powers, even mortality— and we need to know how the Nephilim fit into this whole end-of-the-world scenario that Ezekiel revealed to us.

But how are we going to get that knowledge—about ourselves and the end days—while playing dumb and suppressing our powers?

Wouldn’t any research we undertook—either in a library or on the ground—serve as a red flag to our parents or anyone else who might be seeking us? We need to act, but what do we do?

My brilliant, brilliant Ellie. Did you drum up any amazing ideas in calculus? We need a plan. Now.

I love you,


Between the last few periods of the day, we exchanged a flurry of letters. We each had our theories on how best to get the information we required, and they weren’t the same.

Final y, by the end of the school day, we concocted a plan we could both agree upon. It was risky. But real y, it was our only choice.

* * *

When the last bel rang, I walked Michael over to the footbal field for his practice, just as I would any other day. We had decided to keep as close as possible to our usual activities and schedule. Just in case.

Before he headed into the locker room, I leaned in to kiss him, as I always did. But today, instead of the usual “see you later,” I heard him whisper,

“good luck.”

I needed it.

I walked over to the parking lot to meet Ruth for an after-school coffee, having texted her that my cough had subsided and I felt up to our regular meeting. It sickened me to lie to her; we’d always told each other everything.

Amid al the cars and al the kids preparing to bolt from school, I didn’t spot her at first. But then I caught a glint of her red hair against the backdrop of the gray day. I hustled over to her used, green VW Bug, not sure what reaction I’d get. Did she remember seeing me fly or didn’t she?

How was I supposed to behave?

“You look really ready for a latte,” Ruth pronounced, sounding very normal.

“I am really ready for one,” I said, attempting to match her light tone.

As we got into her car, I thought how pretty she looked under those wire-rimmed glasses. I smiled a little thinking about how shocked our classmates had been when Ruth unleashed her inner runway model at the fal dance. Only to tuck that beauty away again for school on Monday.

Loyal, whip-smart, but incredibly reserved, Ruth loathed any unnecessary attention. She saved up her animation and lovely smiles for a select few, and most of Til inghast High School didn’t make that cut. I just hoped that the frank conversation I planned for our coffee break wouldn’t wipe the pretty grin right off her face.

I tried to mask my nervousness as we rode to the Daily Grind, and to bolster my courage by remembering the words of Michael’s first letter that day. We chatted away, mostly about a benign argument she had had with her new boyfriend, Jamie, about his chronic lateness. The conversation continued as we ordered our coffees and settled into two brown club chairs that sat side by side. As I feigned interest, I lifted my latte to my mouth for a sip. Suddenly, I noticed that my hand was shaking. I put the cup down on the table; I didn’t want Ruth to see and wonder why. Not quite yet, anyway.

Once she finished, I waited until the Daily Grind buzzed with noise. Then I scanned the room to make sure no one was paying us the slightest attention. Leaning over the arm of my chair, I slipped a piece of paper into her lap.

I prayed that the information divulged within wouldn’t shatter her world. More fervently, I prayed that, after she read the contents of the letter, she wouldn’t decide Michael and I were crazy and alert my parents to the disclosure—in an effort to “help” us with our delusions, of course. That would undermine everything that Michael and I were trying to accomplish.

Either way, it was a gamble Michael and I had to take. We had no other options.

Ruth stared down at the letter sitting in her lap, and said, “What’s this?”

“Just read it, Ruth. Please.”

Laughing, she said, “So we’re passing notes now? What are we, in the third grade?”

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