Colors of Night

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If I could, I would take this moment and fold it up and put it in my pocket. It'd be even better if I could turn it into a paper crane, but realistically, I'd end up making one of those cootie catchers that were all the rage in fourth grade. Fold the paper diagonally, cut it to make the shape of a square when you unfold it. Fold in the corners once, then once again, and place your index fingers and thumbs inside the flaps, and push up, and there it is. A folded piece of paper that can catch not only the imaginary germs emitted by the opposite gender, but all of the stars and clouds and droplets of water that form and cling to the edge of my armrest.

Four flaps meet in the center and on each of them you're supposed to spell out a color, count the number of letters in the word, and open and close the cootie catcher that many times. I would write something on each one of them if I had a pen. But I'm surrounded only by rippling waves and a fleece blanket, so all I can do is hope that later I can remember how to describe the colors of tonight. Green and purple and magenta lights flickering along the coastline, contrasting each other but reminding me of the nebulae and supernovas I can see in pictures but never with my own eye. And then I see the inky black sky and water the artificial colors are sandwiched in between, man’s harsh technologies crushed by nature’s even harsher creations. The pinpoints of brightness are no match for the darkness of the natural elements. I know that hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and the inability of the sky to remain bright without the sun will forever outweigh whatever we have the audacity to create.

You next write down numbers on each of the inner folds. I can count ten stars in the light-polluted skies. I've heard from somewhere that we're all made of recycled stars, but I wonder if that’s truth or just the poetic delusion of late-night text conversation. Nevertheless, the notion makes me twinkle just a little bit brighter than usual. If I really am part star, I should glow more often, instead of shrouding myself in the shadows of louder voices. But space has no walls and therefore cannot reflect light, so I remain dim, only an eleventh sparkle in the distance.

Once you pick a number, you open the flap and underneath is your fortune. I've done it before, so many times. The elementary school variations say things like, “You have a secret admirer!” or “You will have great wealth!” I’m expecting to see, or at least hoping to see promises of happiness and prosperity and success. But as I open the flap now, my heart pounding in anticipation, I see nothing, nothing but an inky black sky dissolving into an inky black sea. Tiny, tiny pinpoints of light in the distance.

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