Let The Stars Shine In This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I’m running faster than I’ve ever run before. The scuffed black boots on my feet hit the dry desert ground with a sickening thud and echo through the heavy, humid air. The enormous, wooden building taunts me with the invitation of cool air that lies behind the vast doors. But today, the air means nothing. The thought of safety means nothing. I am living in the night terror I’ve been having for nights now. I thought they might not mean anything for once, but it seems I was completely, horribly wrong.

My body screams at me to stop, my lungs demand me to breathe for the first time in what seems like hours, but I know every moment wasted is a moment of not knowing. As much I wish to never, ever know what lies behind those doors, I have to know. The truth will find me one way or another.

Finally I’ve made it. I run full force into the heavy doors and they creak open. The marble floors are pale and flawless as always. The frosty air engulfs me but cannot soothe me this time. I enter through the tall, intimidating doorway to the main room. It seems endless and, as it has for as long as I’ve known it, holds the feeling of agony and cold, hard reality.

One thousand faces turn to greet me, and then look away in pain. The silence tells me everything. My bleary vision slides across the sea of black, over the unreal flowers one of the visitors must have brought from their home, and the long, silver casket at the end of the room.

At first, I can’t comprehend what this means. I know it in my heart, but my mind won’t accept. Confused, I run my rough hands through my overgrown, dirty hair. But then it can’t be denied anymore. I’ve seen death with my own eyes. Now, here it is again, right in front of me.

I sprint like mad to the end of the room. As I go, each person in every row rises and bows to me. “My prince,” they mutter with pity, but I barely hear them. The blood rushing in my head is making it hard to notice anything except for the gleaming silver coffin in front of me.

The stairs catch under my feet and I stumble hard in front of the casket. I’m on my knees, my dirty cargo pants pressing against the deep red carpet lain for this special event. The lid is closed, and without thinking, I throw it open.

There she is, lying on the purple cushions; the color of royalty. Her blond hair, identical to my own but streaked with grey, is splayed out underneath her head. Her cloud colored skin is freezing cold as I lay my hand on her face. I realize with a wave of sheer terror I’ll never see my mother’s cheerful smile or see her lively eyes.
Suddenly, time stands still. I wonder if I’m hallucinating, but life seems too real for me to ever dream again. Everything I’ve said is proven false in that moment as her eyes fly open, bright blue and observant as always.

She smiles at me sadly, but does not move to get up. In a foolish moment, I wonder why she takes so long. Doesn’t she want everyone to know she is still alive and well?

“My handsome son,” she whispers. Her voice is like sand paper, like the desert ground outside. “Forgive me.”

Then, without warning, she is dead once again. I shake her gently, praying she’ll open those cerulean eyes once again. And then I’m mad. I’m given one last chance to see my mother, and I am too stupid to realize that was my final second with her.
I tell myself that I am not allowed to cry. I am to be the ruler and master of these people. If they believe I am weak, I don’t stand a chance at survival.

But I cannot help it. Life begins again, and the young lady behind me, dressed in black drapes, lays her hand on my head. I shove my fist in my mouth to silence the sobs, but nothing can be done about the tears that pour down my face.

The grand window above my head allows the stars to bless me with their pale light. They illuminate my mother’s nonliving face.

I know that for the first time in my life, I am alone. Alone when what I need most in the world is help.





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