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To Dance Amongst The Stars

The heat from the fire cascades over my body, blistering the plastic on my sneakers, casting a deep, red hue over the night world; I scoot closer into the fire. I breathe out into the frigid night air. I trace my frosty breathe as it curls into small wisps licking at my lips, and then suddenly dissipating into nothing. The night stole it, it’s just gone. I stare back into the fire. My eyes focus on the hottest embers burning at the bottom, crackling as they too dissipate, dissolve, burn, and finally turn into nothing but specks of ash at the bottom of our make-shift fire. I slowly raise my eyes over the fire until I can fully see my friend curled into her brother’s jacket, the one she stole years ago.

But it’s all different now.

She shivers into it, her face stained with tears, her hair falling over her eyes in dirty, greasy clumps. Traces of dust and dirt cover her face, most likely sticking to the level areas where sweat has caked on over time, and the dirt came along with it, settling into her as if it was supposed to be there. The person who cuddled into the jacket, almost desperately, was no longer who she used to be, she rarely smiled, laughed… she rarely cared. Along the way somewhere, the kid in her just left, disappeared. Life had changed her. I guess… life changes us all. I am not sure who was inside the shell-of-a-girl’s-body these days, not sure she wanted anyone to be, and not sure she cared anymore what was on the outside either.


Its funny how if you look close enough, you will see all the things that just disappear… the things that just go, without a farewell; how if you are not paying close enough attention, your world can come crashing down around you before you’ve even raised your eyes to see the oncoming. I guess we were both tired of things that disappeared. Childhood innocence, and curiosity, and our love of life, and our joy, and our interest, and our care, and our lives, and our happiness, and then our everything. It was all gone, like breath in the air, wood into a fire… just nothing anymore. And if you really look closely, none of it was meant to be; warm breath forms a smoky fog, but this warm fog cannot survive once outside of you. It dissolves into some distant abyss, as though it were unimportant or just…….

Nothing.


“Do you want a marshmallow?” She doesn’t respond.
“Anna? Do you want something to eat?” She looks up at me, sighs, and then looks back into the fire.
“Do you want anything, anything at all?” I’d give her anything she wanted. I give her the world if she asked me… I’d give her my life if she really wanted it.
“I want to get out of here.”
“Out of the campsite?” I say, a bit confused.
“No out of here…” she tries to keep her voice calm, under control, but it starts to tremble—she sounds so tired. “Out of HERE.” She repeats harshly.
“Then lets go to the moon.”
“It’s too white.”
“Lets travel amongst the stars.”
“Oh shut up.”


I look back into the fire, it moves around with the wind, letting the wind take control of it, and move it this way and that. I think Anna is like the fire. I don’t think she hates me, but I don’t think she really cares either way—whether I am here—whether I am gone. To her nothing matters, she can just turn a cold shoulder to the world; she doesn’t have to deal with anything. When you don’t care, you can’t get hurt.
But when you don’t get hurt, you don’t feel.

I grab my lighter and a cigarette, recreating the giant flame sitting before me, but much smaller, more controlled. I light it and inhale the smoke, holding my breath for a second. The world spins on without me, as I hold my breath; everything around me seems to stop. Anna looks up, asks me if she can have one. I exhale the smoke in a quick puff, watching the smoke curl into the sky, watching it dance amongst the stars until it disperses, and can no longer be seen. I grab another from the almost-empty pack, walk around the fire, hand her it, and the lighter. I sit down next to her, watching as she inhales, and exhales. She inhales almost as if she needs the smoke more than anything, and then exhales as though the smoke was a waste, just sends it into oblivion. She looks down at me, just stares for a bit. I notice for the first time that her eyes aren’t quite brown, more of a milky hazel color, and under her eyes are soft rose pedals, a purplish color. I wonder how long it has been since she slept. I throw my cigarette butt into the fire, and lay down, wondering why we were so broken.

It starts raining, slowly, and the fire crackles as each drop hits it, and evaporates into nothing. The world quickly becomes drenched, and the fire soon weakens, as little flares burst into air, then slowly diminish. But the rain is nice, my clothes are getting wet, and there is nothing I can do. The world is washing away around me, and yet I feel like I am simply a part of it. I look up at the stars. They seem to be dancing, as the rain obscures my view of them, and the light from it reflects differently, being scattered… so it looks as though they dance around. They dance for me. I jump up and begin to dance with the stars, just dance, and I am running circles carelessly around our dying fire, and I don’t care! I just dance, and move and I feel so free.
Then I hear something I haven’t heard in awhile… Anna laughs. It starts with a snicker, as she tells me how stupid I look, but soon she is cracking up, laughing in uncontrollable heaves. And soon she is crying. I can’t tell the difference between her tears and the rain that runs effortlessly down her cheeks. Perhaps the rain is god’s tears, and now they are crying together. I put my hands on the side of her face, and look into her eyes:
“Stop hiding from the world. Please, just stop.” She tries to push me away from her. But I hold on, even as she spits “fuck off!”
“You’re not alone. Goddamn it, you’re not alone. I’m here! I’m right here, and I always will be. I promise Anna, just let me.” And now she is balling, she pulls her face away from my hands and curls back into her jacket, hiding from the world, as always. I reach out my hand, and pull her to her feet, and wrap her in my arms, and she cries on my shoulder, and I cry into hair. She lets out a sigh, the sigh she has been bottling up in her for probably forever. We dance together, amongst the stars.
The rain falls around us, it turns the dry spot where she was sitting wet, and it soon puts the fire out. Things change. But sometimes it just takes a little wakeup call to remember what life is about. I look at the stars, I look at the trees, I look at Anna, and I am happy to be here. I am happy to be alive, even if I had forgotten what living was, what it really is. Anything that is broken can be fixed, so we’ll dance amongst the stars, like the cigarette smoke, until we disperse into nothing. At least we have something for now.




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waiting_to_be_found said...
Jul. 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm:
Hmm... I know everyone here wants feedback... but could someone please tell me if they like it, or don't like it. I don't know if I did something wrong with it, or what.
 
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