The night sky stretched over her head, moonless. The soft sound of the surfs, the mild wind against her eyelashes, the smell of the ocean – she felt complete! She sat at the edge of the sand, the warm waves caressing her toes with the ebb and flow of the tide, the stars hanging low in the sky. She watched as each one of them fought for their moment of glory. She switched her glance from one to the other, trying to pick her favorite. Some twinkled relentlessly, a zillion times a second, some a lot slower, managing only a million! Some larger and brighter, some smaller but working really hard to stay in the running! She could stare at them all night and not tire even for a moment! The longer she stared, the more stars she could see! It was the most thrilling feeling to watch the sky come alive in the dead of the night! It was satisfying for her, that the world as she knew it could melt away so easily.
She had no idea how long she had been sitting there. It didn’t matter. Suddenly the same ‘time’ that she had been running against all day, meant nothing any more! A pair of familiar palms on her shoulders startled her, jolting her back into the present, as he came and sat right next to her.
‘I knew I would find you here’
‘You know me…!’ she shrugged!
‘Mhm! Any excuse to launch yourself out of this world and back to your home planet’
‘Hey!’ she quipped frowning!
‘Just checking if you were really paying attention’
They both grinned as they sat in silence a while. Her smile slowly fading away.
‘You know my favourite part about being here?’ she asked, still looking up at the sky
‘Me!!’ He said playfully hopeful, pointing both his thumbs towards himself!
‘Can’t blame me for trying!’ … ‘But I do actually know the answer to that!’
She turned to him raising his eyebrows and looking a little surprised ‘That’s pretty confident, alright, so what is my favorite part then?’
‘The quiet.’ He said tentatively . . .
She looked back at the sky as she fought back the over bearing voices in her head that she had battled all day! And then after a long thought she said ‘Let’s Go?’
‘Really? Ready to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere!’
He rose up to his feet, dusting all the sand off himself. She followed suit and picked up her footwear in her hands. He could tell she didn’t want to leave. She could tell her sitting there was worrying him! They could both tell, they needed to do this for the other! They walked back in silence. Just as they were getting off the sand, and back to the road, he stopped and turned to her.
‘You did everything there was to do!’ he said.
She nodded plainly ‘I’m fine’ she said rather confidently!
‘Yes, that you sure seem!’ he scoffed!
‘Well, what do you want me to say?’
‘Talk to me!’ he said calmly as he stopped walking and turned to her. ‘Stop running from yourself, or from me!’
‘You won’t understand’
‘Because you think the reason I come here is for the quiet’. She spoke in an even tone as she looked back at him plainly. A part of her was disappointed he had got the answer wrong, a part of her was glad he had not been able to read her as well as he claimed. She smiled a little and turned to walk on. ‘Let’s Go!’
He watched her back as she walked, and took a slow and deep breath! ‘Stars inspire you!’ he called out, ‘They are the underdogs on a full moon night, when the sky is its prettiest. And on moonless nights, when most people don’t care to notice, the stars are the ones striving hard, to light-up the sky! And even then, even after all the neglect, as they break away and disappear into the oblivion, they shoot across the horizon and grant the on-looker their every desire.’
She slowed and then stopped in her place entirely as she hung on to every word. Her back still facing him, she knew she had lost this battle. Her right eye welled with the smallest tear as her feet sunk into the sand, as if rooting her permanently to the spot. She wanted to turn and walk back to him, and there were things she wanted to say, an apology maybe? But the growing lump in her throat made that entirely impossible. She stood, motionless, as the waves seemed to get louder and the wind just a little stronger. Was that her imagination? She couldn’t be sure.
He walked up to her, right by her side and continued to say softly ‘No matter how much you try, there will be times you will screw up! It doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough! It just means you screwed up! . . . See that little guy there?’ He said pointing to a large fluffy white cloud covering a big chunk of the sky. She blinked away her tear as she looked up to follow his finger. She nodded slow. ‘He is making it really tough for the guys behind him, but do you think they are still twinkling their brightest, even when they know they don’t stand a chance?’
A small tear raced down her cheek as she smiled and nodded! ‘I’m sorry’ she said softly as she looked at him!
He nodded and smiled! ‘We still have a couple of hours before sunrise, and it is still your birthday! So, if your party here is over, maybe you can celebrate with the mortals too! I’m starving!!’
She flung her arms around him snug and whispered – ‘Yes, please!’