Shooting Stars


It was a particularly clear night, and the skies were filled with stars, like millions of flashlights in a dark cave.

He pulled at a blade of grass next to the blanket, tearing it out of the ground. Then he let it go, and the wind caught it.
It flew away like a green little bird.

The wind was picking up. It was a rather chilly night. Summer was coming to an end. He looked to his left, where she lay, her face upturned, bathed by the moonlight.
“A penny for your thoughts,” he said.
“I’m not thinking. I’m just lookin’.”
He smiled. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
She nodded. “Yeah, it’s amazing.”
He propped himself up, his left elbow sinking into the blanket.
“Looking at all this magnificence, I feel insignificant and significant at the same time,” she added.
Then she took a deep breath and let it out slowly, closing her eyes, relishing the breath.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“Just a little bit.”
“I’ll get the sweater from the car.”
“No. It’s okay.” she touched his arm. “Stay.”
“Alright.”
He sat cross-legged on the blanket.
“Hey!” he said in a tone to suggest he just discovered the wheel.
“What?”
“I have a question for you.”
She looked at him.
“What is it?”
“Well… do you love me?”
“What kind of a question is that?”
“Well, do you?”
“Of course I do”.
“Then why are you leaving?”
Now she sat up too.
“Didn’t we have that conversation already?”
“I don’t want you to leave.”
“It’s not my call.”
“You can stay at my place. I’m sure my parents won’t mind.”
“Tim…” She touched his thigh with manicured fingers. “Tim, I can’t. I have to be with my family.”
“Then you don’t love me.”
“Tim…”
“How can you say you love me and then leave? If you have no problem leaving, then you don’t really love me. If you loved me, you would’ve stayed.”
“Tim, it’s not forever. I’m not leaving you. I’m leaving this town.”
“Same thing. And don’t tell me you won’t meet another guy in the big city… come on, they’ll be all over you like flies. They don’t take no for an answer over there.”
She turned her face towards the stars again, saying:
“You don’t need to worry about it.”
“Oh, really?”
“Really. And you’re ruining this beautiful night for me. For us.”
“Well, you’re leaving in the morning.”
“Exactly, So I want this night to be special.”
He dropped on his back again, pouting. She shook her head.
Suddenly, her eyes caught something.
“Look!” she said, pointing up.
“What?”
“Up there! A shooting star!”
He followed her finger and saw it. Saw them, A group of shooting stars flying across the night sky from east to west, like streams of confetti.
“Oh, they’re beautiful! Go on, Tim, make a wish! I’ll make one too! Quickly, before they disappear!”
He looked up.
She looked up.
And then the shooting stars were gone, vanishing behind the horizon.

After a while it started getting cold, so they went back to the car.
Tim turned on the heating, but it didn’t seem to work.
He punched the dashboard with frustration, shouting: “What a goddamn jalopy!”
“Relax,” she said.
He grabbed the wheel, pushed the gas pedal, and turned the car around, ready to leave the hill and descend down the path.
But before hitting the marked dirt road, he stopped the car, and turned his face to look at her, grabbing the steering wheel so hard his knuckles turned red.
She put her hand on his shoulder, and smiled a smile as soft as sunrise. The car was cramped and small, but he managed to put his arms around her, and hugged her fiercely. She, in turn, put her arms over his back, sliding up and down, up and down, comforting him.

When he let go of her, he felt that his cheeks were wet. There was also this buzzing anger inside of him when he saw that her cheeks were quite dry, but he decided to let it go.
“I’ll write to you every day,” he said, “or at least every two days.”
She laughed.
“I’ll come visit. I promise” she said. And after a pause, added: “I wish things were different, but that’s how it is.”
“It’s okay, I understand.”
“I’m sorry if you’re hurting.”
“I’m okay.”
She studied him.
“Okay,” she said finally.
They sat in silence for a few seconds.
“I don’t wanna drive back to town,” he said. “I just wanna stay here with you.”
“We can stay for a little while longer. Mom’s doing most of the packing anyway.”
He smiled and leaned back, opening the window, saying,
“I’m suddenly hot. Go figure.”
He looked out. The moon was hidden behind a cloud.
“Can I ask you what you wished for?” He said.
“You’re not supposed to tell.”
“I know. But you won’t even tell me?”
“Okay, I wished the heating in your car will work.”
“You’re lying.”
“You got me.” she laughed.
“Come on!”
“Nope.”
“Alright, then. I don’t mind telling you what I wished for.”
“You wished that I won’t leave.”
“Am I that obvious?”
“You are.”
“Hmm… And you?”
She took a deep breath.
“Well, it already came true,” she said.
He seemed confused. “What do you mean?”
She shrugged.
“I wished to stay up here with you for just a little while longer.”

And a tear rolled down her cheek, just like a shooting star.

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