Jonas and Stars

May 5, 2008
By Kayla Kozal, Wyoming, MI

Geez, this heat. It’s ridiculous. How can anyone function in this? I can feel the sweat trickling down my forehead, cheeks, back, chest, and arm pits. Even with the windows rolled down and the breeze coming in, the heat is intense.
Worse yet, my mouth is dry. It’s then I realize I haven’t had a drink in a while, and I probably won’t. I had used the last water bottle about five hours ago for relief from the heat. That relief hadn’t lasted long. So, there’s nothing but empty bottles in the backseat and not a gas station in sight.
In fact, there’s nothing in sight. It’s nothing but desert all around. I groan. I knew I should have taken the highway. However, it is a lot faster. No one is on the road, no traffic to worry about, no cops patrolling so I can do ninety down this road without a care. So, I guess it’s not that bad.
But it’s just like being stranded. Nothing and no one in sight makes things a bit more scary. Being caught a lone, anything can happen.
No, I can’t think about that. I have to keep going. I look up at the charm hanging from the rear view mirror. I can only pray the little angel gets me home safe.
After about ten more miles, the car sputters for the first time. Instant panic floods my head as I look down at the gages. The tank is on empty. I didn’t realize I’d been running on fumes for the past couple of miles. The car begins to lose speed as it continues down the road. I curse as it comes to a stop right in the middle of the desert.
There’s no other way to put it. I’m screwed.
The sun was right in the middle of the sky, baking and frying everything it came in contact with. Even standing on top of the car, there’s nothing to see except desert, tumbleweeds, desert, rocks, and more desert. Climbing back into the car, I look to my only resort, the air conditioner. I lean forward in the seat and attempt to turn it on, only to break the knob clean off. I groan in frustration as I toss the knob under the passenger seat. Cheep rental cars. They’re useless.
Sweat is just pouring now. My shirt clings to my chest as I sit in the driver’s seat staring off. My lips are dry and starting to crack. I might as well be a dog, panting in the heat. I stare at the roof of the car with my head tilted back. God, send someone to save me.
I wait.
The charm just jingles on the mirror.
I groan. Great. Just great.
Finally, the gun begins to sink a bit. There’s a bit of relief, but my mind reminds me that once night hits, it’s going to be bad. It’s going to get cold and fast. I just appreciate the diminishing heat for the moment.
I groan again, watching shadows creep across the roof of the car. My head felt light and heavy at the same time, making me a bit dizzy.
I stirred a bit at the sound of my name, but the more I moved the more I felt my mind swirl around inside my skull.
I stirred a bit more, before turning a bit in my seat. I looked toward the backseat. I had to blink several times to adjust to the light around her.
A single white hand extended to my shoulder, gripping it. She seemed all white, made of pure light, and yet at the same time, I could almost see straight through her. She spoke my name again in a whisper, but it sounded like singing.
Even with the dizziness and the heat, I still managed to smile at the sound.
“You decided t stop jingling and actually join me?”
She smiled and it lit up the whole old broken down car. She nodded to me.
I smirked a bit before leaning my head against the seat’s back, still facing her. I watched her, seeing through the brightness.
He smiled faded as the sun sank. Time seemed to speed up and yet slowly, the white light disappeared. Her hair turned raven, her eyes became dark, and the feathered masses on her back turned to black.
As the light faded, everything became cold. The sweat dried up and every muscle in my body started to shake and twitch. My teeth seemed to be butting heads in my mouth, chattering away to fill the silence. But I didn’t move. I stayed as still as I could with my eyes fixed on her. If I looked away, she might just leave.
Though her eyes were dark and deep, they seemed to reach out at the same time, pleading almost. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was playing with me. One moment, she looked like a little girl, the next she seemed older and wiser than her years. No matter what age, she remained as still as I.
Her sweet voice now seemed sorrowful. The rims of her eyes seemed to darken, as if the artist who had painted those masterpieces had drawn the edges darker to intensify the sadness.
I looked into those eyes, unsure if they were actually that way or just stars from the sky. However, I wouldn’t be able to find out. She had sung my name like a lullaby.
“Jonas. Sleep.”
It was such a sweet lullaby that worked almost instantly. As my eyes began to sink closed, her face lit up again, glowing in the darkness.
“Good night, Jonas.”
Just like the last notes of a lullaby, they were soft, sweet, and gentle. It was enough to lull me into sleep. My eyelids slid closed and her darkness covered me completely.
I woke to bright light and the merciless heat in full rage again. My eyes opened, though, I would rather have kept them closed. My dizziness had subsided a bit, but my mouth felt drier than ever. My lips were now sandpaper, scrapping across each other and refusing to move. My eyes and skin stinged. I looked at my arm and it was red. Everything was red. I groaned in pain, and looked back at the back seat.
She was gone.
I let out a breath.
Slowly and stiffly, I got out of the car, stretching in the sun. I was already feeling that laziness from the heat and fell back down into the car, just watching and trying to forget my suffering.
The sun was starting to get higher in the sky. There wasn’t a single cloud to offer relief. Just pure blue skies and the red-hot sun. The light was real intense, burning my face more and more.
But the light was familiar. I sat there for a while longer, before the spinning began again. I was almost praying to hear that sweet voice again, but I didn’t.
Finally, as the sun hung in the middle of the sky, I began to wander around, watching the horizon dance and the road twist and turn like a snake in front of me. It slithered around, playing around as it reached for the sky. A tumbleweed blew passed me and I reached out my hand to touch it, only to stop and watch my hand for a moment or two. The lings around my fingers blurred and morphed.
My head gave another sickening turn.
I looked up the road, and there she stood, all black still in the blazing heat. She stared back with light in her eyes. Though, this time, I didn’t want to see her. Something didn’t seem right.
Her voice was sweet still, but almost commanding.
I stood staring at her, confused for a moment or two, until my mind functioned and told me about the guitar sitting in the trunk.
One moment I was watching her, the next I had the guitar in my hands and I was back standing in the middle of the road. I didn’t remember moving at all. My eyes strayed up to her as I swayed a bit under the sun. Her light penetrated my eyes as she stood glowing at me. Everything surrounding her was light except her eyes. Nothing was in them, but darkness. My mind had no choice but to agree with what was going on.
I took her encouragement and obeyed her command. My fingers worked as I played.
The sun had begun to sink by the time I dropped my hands. My fingertips stung now just as much as my skin. I looked up to see her only to find empty road. My head spun in place, feeling beaten down. I looked at my hands again. They were tipped with red now.
Letting out one last, long breath, I turned away from the road to retreat to the car. As I stepped toward it, my mind blinked again, fazing out for a moment before coming back into focus.
My eyes were stung with light in front of me, but everything else was dark. Night had somehow fallen. I looked at my hand saw the red lighter laying in my palm, before I focused back on the light in front of me. It was giving me heat.
What was on fire?
It took me several moments to register before I realized it was my guitar I had just been playing. I wanted to reach in and save it, but there was no point anymore. I just let it burn, taking in the heat to save myself from the cold and yet mourning the loss of my guitar.
But as I stood there, I looked up and saw her standing in the flames.
I looked at her in shock and strangely, fear, while she had that pleading look in her eyes again. Slowly, I began to back away, not wanting to be near her. She was pure white in the flames, but as it licked at her more, the more heat revealed her darkness. She stepped forward out of the flame, the feather still smoldering on her back, but they were all raven colored now.
I backed away more.
“Jonas. Please.”
I didn’t trust her.
I had had enough of this desert.
I turned and ran back to the car, locking myself inside. I looked back at the flames to see she had disappeared again.
I fell asleep to the sound of chimes.
I woke to the sound of pounding.
Slowly, my eyes opened and I looked out the window at the first real person I had seen in three days. I drew back a bit, but still rolled down the window.
“Are you stranded?”
I looked at him with my red eyes as the words registered in my clearly mixed up head. Slowly, I nodded.
“Well, come on. I’ll give you a ride to the nearest town.”
I nodded again, getting out of the car. The semi-truck rumbled on the road, ready to start moving again and continue on it’s way. I walked around the car, grabbing my things and going to the semi. I cast a last glance at the car.
There was no angel charm hanging from the mirror.
I pulled away even more, getting in the truck and shutting the door. My mind still buzzed and twisted, I was thirstier than I’d ever been in my life, and I would have died for a nice, long shower.
The truck started to move and it tumbled down the road away from the car.
In the side mirror, I caught a glimpse of her, standing in the middle of the road, pleading. I could read my name on her lips. My ears rang.

Light fills the air around me
Glowing and brilliant
Reflecting off of the surface

It’s magnificent beauty
It dims and fades now
Leaving an absence behind.

Light is replaced by darkness
Blinding me of sight
Beauty falls into the void

Darkness surrounds completely
Spreading fear throughout
Consuming my being fully

From the darkness come the stars
Guiding me forward
No longer without the light

When in darkness, look for stars
They always surround
Watching, they know the way home

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