The Starry Night This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 2, 2011
A chill filled the air that clear, summer night; and the stars, so visible in this country town, practically vanished under the light of the bright full moon. The sound of a billion crickets broke the eerie silence that surrounded us, and except for the occasional reminder of a plane landing at the airport, the world seemed to disappear. We couldn’t even see my black car veiled by the shadow of an enormous grandfather oak.

I could hear the leaves rustling in the cool wind as I stepped out of my car. Closing the door, I cringed; afraid that the noise would shatter this surreal world we had discovered, the way an alarm clock stops a dream before you find out the ending. Looking over, I noticed that he didn’t seem to care about waking up. He looked as laid back and unaffected as ever. Nothing bothered him, not a failing grade, not even a fight with a friend. I often wondered what I would have to do to force a reaction out of him. I didn’t intend to do it that night.

He walked around the back of the car and wrapped his arm around me. Shoving my keys into my pocket, I enfolded my arm around his athletic waist; and we moved, together, down the hill toward the center of the soccer field. We stood there and stared at the night sky. From some distant corner of the park, the words of a song echoed through the fields of tall grass and groves of strong trees. He knew that I would start singing along at any moment (I did it all the time, and still do), but instead of covering my mouth with his hand, or hitting my arm until I shut up out of fear of bruising, he sang along with me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him look at me. Without moving, he turned his head, leaned down, and tilting my head toward his with the touch of a finger, lightly kissed me.

My eyes widened in surprise. All we had ever been was friends. People always thought we were more, but we each dated other people and agreed that our friendship was too important to ruin it with any sort of romantic involvement. Without speaking, we walked toward the picnic table beneath the young maple trees. We laid back and stared, in silence, at the beauty of the sky. Shivering, more from thinking about what had just happened than from the cold, I rubbed my bare arms briskly with my hands.

“Are you sure you don’t want this?” He checked, pointing to his flannel jacket.

I whispered, “Yes,” and rested my tired head on his chest instead. Shifting my weight, I moved so that he could wrap his strong arms around my waist. As if reading my mind, he slide his hand down my arm and rested it on my hip. He traced imaginary circles on my stomach with his index finger. The rhythmic beating of his heart and the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed, lulled me into a familiar trance, like when a mother holds her baby close to her and gently rocks him back to sleep. My eyelids felt heavy as I continued to gaze at the points of light in the dark blanket of the night, and eventually I closed them, completely shutting out the rest of the world. I could feel the warmth of his hand on my side as I slipped into the world that exists only in my imagination.

I snapped out of that trance when he moved his hand, and although he now caressed my cheek and ran his fingers through my hair, I could still feel his arm around my waist. Blinking, I tried to open my eyes but lead weights pulled my lids down again. A chill ran through my spine as his lips brushed my ear and he whispered, with hesitation, “I love you, Abby.”

I didn’t know what to say! My best friend was pouring out his heart, leaving himself open to the pain and embarrassment of rejection; and what comes to mind but, Why did you have to say that? I just looked into this eyes, like an actor looking for her cue card at the back of the stage, hoping that the answer was swimming in those pools of dark blue. Without talking, or thinking, I leaned over and gently kissed our friendship good-bye.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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