Star Story

I wish you could see the stars.

Well—

Well, I wanted you to see the stars with me that night (the last night there were any). I wanted you and me to slide out the back door into the dark, breathing the still steamy air filled with the shampoo smell that the jasmine made to bring in the bugs. I pictured us laying side-by-side with grass sticking to our skin and us breathing and us wondering silently out loud to each other whether we were hanging off the very bottom of the earth with the sky spread out so deep and wide below us that it looked like forever.

That’s it.

Now the sky glows like a bruise every night, the hazy predawn purple making the hours fuse together into bright, brighter, blindness, and I miss the darkness and you and that last night is what I think about. There’s never enough light to really see by anymore, and people talk about how the squinting causes eye stress and count how many flashlights we have left in our camp but I think I’ll go crazy if I never see a sky that’s asphalt-black again. Last night before bed I prayed that the sun would go out.

You were lucky almost. Even though here is shit now I still can’t make myself glad for you that you were gone before this all started, before the atmosphere filled with dust and people made jokes about how the dinosaurs felt and then started feeling that way. I’m not mad at you anymore but I’m also not happy the way people say I should be; I’m not proud of you like somehow you knew our world was a sinking ship and that was why you jumped off. When I dream of you I see you falling out instead of down, whipping out of orbit like someone cut you loose and dropping in slow motion into the still waiting blanket of the atmosphere. I close out the light with my eyelids and imagine that maybe you made it off this rock and into the black before we got cursed and closed off from the stars. But during the day I can’t think about that. Instead I think about the last night of the stars, how the skin on my face felt tight from crying and I could press the heel of my hand into my chest and feel just there what all the poems and stories from English class meant when they told me Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. They meant—Don’t Leave Me Here. They meant: Please.

I look up at our orange-streaked sky through goggles and keep my bandana tied close around my face to keep the dust from my lungs, but when I think, I think about how if there was still darkness and there was still you I would just sit still in the darkness with you and point up, pointing out stars like we still cared. Maybe with the bugs crawling from the grass onto the hairs of our arms, the earth would still make sense. Maybe if we were in the dark.

I don’t expect to see you when I get there.

I think it might be soon.

I don’t expect it. But still it would be nice.

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