Stars This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 8, 2017
By , Jamaica, NY , NY

Nova; a star showing a sudden large increase in brightness and then slowly returning to its original state over a few months

Stars are bright. Stunning. Untouchable.

That’s what she was. She’d run and the only way you would know that she had been there was the fading trail of her laughter. Her smiles would light up an entire city. It could shine light on the darkness that no one would notice.

The freckles on her face reflected the beautiful constellations in the sky. Her eyes shone even brighter than the stars.

Her spirit ran wild. Never being caught, unless she allowed it. Even then, it was always ten miles ahead. Her mind raced faster than anyone else but always stopped to show kindness. Her childhood innocence warmed the hearts of many. Especially, her family.

Her papi would lift her up high, making her feel all mighty. He would spin her around and the world would pass by her in a blur of vivid colors. Her mami would send warm smiles down at her and watch over her carefully. Her brother. Her brother was her inspiration.

He was strong. He would outrun anyone, even her. He could come up with the solutions to any problem, in a second. He saw everything in color. He was her hero.

He would take her up to their roof, despite their mother’s warnings. They would lay on the blanket that he had laid out and the stars were their guide.

Perseo. Osa Major. Toro.

He’d point at them and say their name. With each one, he would tell the story behind them. Sometimes, the stories were so silly that she would giggle throughout the story and would still be giggling long after the story ended. Sometimes they were so sad that tears swelled her eyes and he would have to pause and wait from the tears to stop. And sometimes they made no sense and she’d just stare up at the stars and let the story play as background noise.

Stars became the warm and fuzzy feeling she got in her tummy.

As years went on, the stories of the stars became a part of her. She could recite them word from word. Yet, she would always pretend to forget a part so that he would tell her the story again. When he raised his eyebrows at her, her face would heat up and she would turn her eyes to the stars and refused to look away until the story began. She never saw the tiny smile that tugged on the corner of his lips or the shake of his head.

She grew brighter. She was still stunning and untouchable, maybe even more. But her mami and papi weren’t so bright.

New lines joined the other lines on her papi’s face. His muscles would ache and he didn’t move as fast as he did. Her mami’s smiles weren’t as warm and didn’t stay too long on her face. They didn’t share a sweet, gentle kiss every morning anymore. Instead, they would be yelling at each other in the mornings before stopping abruptly and plastering on the strange smiles on their faces.

So when her papi left, she shouldn’t have been so surprised. But she was. Tio was angry. She had never seen him like that before. His face was red, veins strained along his neck, his fists were clenched so tight that blood was drawn, bad words flew from his mouth. Soon fat tears came down and his voice soften. He fell to his knees, hands wrapped tightly around himself, begging softly for him not to leave them.

But papi left anyway. He didn’t say goodbye.

Stars fade.

Mami was weird. She didn’t speak much, only low good mornings and goodbyes came from her. She became thin and frail. Her head always down and shoulders tense as if the world was pushing them down.

She wasn’t around as much. Always saying that she was working. Working to give them food and clothes, but there was never food on the table when they returned from school and the clothes started to become tight and holes formed.

When she did come home, she reeked of alcohol. Her eyes were red and tears stained her cheeks. Her hair was askew and her face was filthy. When she was home, angry words feel from her lips in a slur. The only things that could be heard were glass breaking, incoherent yelling, and children’s pleas to stop. When she was home, a storm arrived leaving behind devastation and misery.

When she was gone. Tio was the one who worked. Tio brought home food and new clothes. Smart, bright Tio dropped out of school. His smile never faded through. It wasn’t there as much but it was there when she needed it. Tio was strong.

But she knew better.
She knew when mami was home, bruises appeared on Tio’s skin. He would say that he tripped or there was an accident at work but she knew better. She knew why Tio would send her to the roof and block the door so that she wouldn’t go down. She knew that was the only safe place.

While the screams of Tio and mami meddle together, she’d cover her ears. She would look at the stars, never looking away, and recite the stories. She would ignore the sting of the tears and the daggers to her heart and pray to the stars. Pray that her hero would be saved.

He never was.

Tio wasn’t so bright anymore. He still smiled but he wasn’t happy. He always wore hoodies no matter how hot it maybe. He would shy away and snap at anyone who gave him attention. He became strange. He always told her what to do if anything happened to him.

She never understood but she would listen. She would remember and recite back word for word what to do. She would run. She didn’t think she would ever have to, until one night she did.

Tio wasn’t moving. He wouldn’t wake up and the blood wouldn’t stop. So she ran. She ran without a destination. She ran yelling for help. She ran covered in the blood of her hero.

That night, while she ran, the stars were no longer bright. They weren’t warm. They were cold. They were mocking. They were the pitying stares of strangers. They held the whispers of how sad the whole ordeal was. They were strangers.

That’s one thing she learned. Stars aren’t bright forever. They fade, just like Tio.

Stars can be reborn.

After Tio, things were never the same.

She ended up with her papi. He had a wife, a pregnant wife. He said he was sorry and he still loved her and Tio. He was kind to her. He gave her a room, he fed her, her gave her clothes. He gave her many things and he didn’t ask for anything back.

She hated him.

She hated him for leaving. For hurting Tio and mami. For coming back too late. For not saving Tio. For having a new life. For being happy.

She knew it was selfish but she didn’t care. Why should he be happy when Tio suffered. Why should he still smile, when he made Tio’s smile gone forever. She hated him and it wouldn’ t change.

She wasn’t okay. The stars were cruel and so was life. She didn’t smile. She was no longer bright. Instead, she’s now the darkness no one notices.

But one day, someone does.

Fae was so different from Tio. She was much younger. She got angry quickly. She held grudges. She didn’t see the world the same way. Stars held no meaning to her. Yet, for some reason, she seemed so much like Tio. And just like that she had a friend.

Stars are confusing.

She never grew to love the stars again. She never looked at them, never told their stories. They were just a bittersweet reminder that she wishes would just leave.

So imagine, her surprise when the stars is all she has as she dies.

The stars are bright that night, filling up the darkness with their light. Yet at the same time, glaring down at her mockingly.

She scoffs causing blood to rise up her throat and out her mouth. The blood flows steadily from the wound in her stomach. Weirdly enough, the stories of the stars become rushing back to her.

Stories that she hasn’t thought of in years are replaying in her mind word from word. Tears blur her vision, she can’t decided whether it’s from the wound or the memories. Either way it hurts. Through her blurred vision, the stars form Tio.

Tio, her hero. He’s offering her a hand. With what little strength she has left, she reaches out and lets one more tear fall. Tio’s warm hand grasps her cold one tightly and after so long, the forgotten warmness is there.






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