Reflections at midnight

The research project took me late into the night. By the time I headed out of the lab, midnight was almost upon me.
The first thing that struck me was the how empty the whole campus felt. The pervasive emptiness surrounds me with its silence, enfolds me in its embrace, and fills me with its intensity. I breathed in the night air and started walking. The night was so quiet. I listened, I closed my eyes. I heard the whisper of the wind, occasionally punctuated with the crunch of fallen autumn leaves underneath my feet. The noise of the city, a sound that I have learned to tune out so long ago, is startling in its absence.
I looked up at the night sky. When was the last time I’ve done this? When was the last time I stared at the silvery halo of the moon or counted the stars or tried to piece together the constellations? I was reminded of a time under the same starry sky, except for I was much younger and full of light and hope. That was a much simpler time then, a time when I had all the time in the world to count the stars without the fear for the deadline or feeling guilty about not using my time productively. I can only imagine what the me back then will think of what I have become; will he be glad that I have made it so far through the university, or will he be sad that on the sacrifices I have made over these years?
The chill of the night wind brought me out of my reverie. I shook my head to clear it; no matter how I slice it, essays aren’t going to write themselves. I hunched my shoulders and strode down to the bus stop, telling myself all the way that I’ve got to do what I have to do… but then, why can I still feel the disappointed gaze of a young pair of eyes gazing out from under the starry sky of another time?

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