A Shooting Star

By
Maggie looked up at the house that she called home for seventeen years of her life. The gray walls were worn with time and the windows were barely fitting in their frames. Something was different about the balcony and Maggie could not see what was happening. She backed away, staring intently at the balcony. The doors were open to her older sister’s luxurious quarters. The silk lavender curtains swayed with the breeze of the cold autumn night. A shimmering light from a candle still flickered as the evening turned to night. A faint sound was heard, but Maggie would not dare climb the stairs to look. Her sister, Elizabeth, shut herself away in her bedroom since the war started a month ago. Only the servants were allowed in her room. Elizabeth mourned the lover her parents never knew about. The dark handsome man who Elizabeth called Eric had been sent to war. Their parents were unaware, as infants are to the meaning of simple words. Their parents thought Elizabeth was going through a phase, maybe just a time of evaluating her womanhood. They would never understand.
As she stood, her eyes fixed to one spot, her sister’s shadow passed by the portal of the balcony. Maggie’s heart was tearing for Elizabeth, but she knew that she could never imagine the pain. Maggie looked down at her feet with disgust. “Why am I just standing here waiting for her misery to be over? I should be with my sister, having fun, laughing, doing something!” A welling of anger rose from within her stomach. “I should be helping her, not those servants! I am her sister.”
Maggie’s footsteps were like thunder on the wooden stairs. She drew in a deep breath, waiting, watching the door to her sister’s room. The door flew open, making Maggie jump back, sending her toppling down the stairs. She picked herself up. Daggers from her glistening eyes were shooting toward the stairs. “Stupid servants! Stupid! Stupid!” She could hear the light movement of feet creeping toward the top stair. A slim shadow stood fixed, straining to see Maggie standing at the landing below. “OH MY GOODNESS!” Elizabeth was standing at the top of the stairs dressed in her night coat. Maggie stood startled, and Elizabeth seemed just as shocked about the strange welcome from her sister.
Elizabeth was now gliding down the steps toward Maggie and swept past her younger sister without a sound. Maggie stood, shaken, and then quickly took after her sister toward the courtyard. Elizabeth was now sprinting across the pasture, her coat and dress billowing behind her and her hair flickering in the wind. Her pace quickly faded; her cheeks flushed, her eyes watering, her lips quivering. Elizabeth’s head hung into her hands as her shoulders shook vigorously. Maggie slowly approached the trembling mass of her sister. She knelt beside her older sister, wrapping her arms securely around her. Elizabeth slowly raised her head, her face wet and glazed. “Eric has been killed. Maggie, I need you to go with me to see him one last time in his resting place. We need to go now.”
The request was simple, yet Maggie could not comprehend death. She could not comprehend the motionless figure lying before her. Elizabeth stood quietly staring at the soldier. Her face was pale and her eyes gray with fear. Her hand rose toward his still figure, and shot unexpectedly to her mouth. She closed her eyes in pain and turned quickly to her left. Elizabeth caught her breath and turned back toward her beloved. Her hand left her mouth, and she stepped into the shadow of the coffin. Her hands lay on his chest, and brushed his face softly. The long summer nights they spent together were lost in eternity with his soul and in her broken heart.
They left the wake and walked slowly, without words, back to their house. The dirt roads dusted Maggie’s dress hem. She glanced sideways at her sister’s down-turned face. A single tear rolled down her pale cheek. “As long as he is not in pain, I’ll be okay.” The words fell from Elizabeth’s mouth as she caught Maggie’s sideward glance. Elizabeth stopped walking and turned toward Maggie. “Really, I’ll be fine. Eric and I were never meant to be. Mum and Dad never even knew about him. It’s like what Shakespeare said in one of his plays. We were shooting stars, and while our paths crossed, it was amazing, but it was never meant to last.” A small smile broke on Elizabeth’s face. “My time with him was amazing.” Then, another tear fell from her eye and hit the front of her jacket, leaving a dark glistening dot where it landed.





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