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Stars

By @TheBookishOne

The sky is dark, still, presenting me with its omniscience. Stars twinkle in their places, winking down at me like they know something I don’t, like they’ve unlocked the secrets of the universe. Sometimes, I’m jealous of the stars, their fixed positions and their well-known lifespan. A star goes from nebula to star to supergiant to supernova to black hole. I sometimes wish my life was laid the same way.

I want to know what will happen to me. Something in my brain decided to make me detest surprises. If my life was like that of a star, I would have known what my mother was thinking before she left.

She didn’t tell any of us. This morning, she was in the kitchen, smiling in a sort of haggard way as my little brothers and I gobbled up the breakfast she had made, put on shoes and easy smiles. When we got home from school, all that was left was a note.

I love you. It’s not your fault. Don’t try to find me.

Three sentences are supposed to comfort a sixteen-year-old budding scientist, two ten-year-olds, and a trusting middle-aged man. Three sentences are supposed to make it all okay. 

Dad has stopped making calls. Mom is not with her parents. She is not with her friends. The last call Dad made was to the police. I heard him through my bedroom wall, begging the authorities to help us. It was useless; they told him the note meant she left of her own accord. They couldn’t intervene.

I am lying on the roof, and I am staring at the stars. Mom bought me a telescope when I was eleven, and we spent many nights up here, gazing at the universe. I don’t know why I thought being in our special place was a good idea.

Tears leak from my eyes, and I bite them back. I read somewhere that there’s no reason for people to cry when they feel emotion. Tears are meant to lubricate the eyes. Crying because my mother is gone and I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again is biologically nonsensical.

The attic window opens, and my father climbs out. A coffee cup is clutched in his hand, and he perches next to me.

“What’s that for?”

“The coffee? In case she comes home tonight.”

“She won’t.”

“I’m a dreamer, Rosie,” he confides.

“You’re a romantic.” I am not interested in his romanticism. Maybe that’s what made her go, his need to sweep people off their feet, to make them feel loved. Maybe he tried so hard to fix her that she broke.

“Ah, but my romanticism brought me my children,” he confides, smiling. His arm wraps around my shoulders and I snuggle against him. “We’ll get through this.”

I am no longer jealous of the stars and their certainty. If I were a star, I would never have gotten to revel in the genuine love that fills this moment with my father. 

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