“Um, okay. So I don't know if you remember me, I’m Ella,” I said cautiously. I sat across from a limp, fragile body of my former classmate. “I have gone to your school since seventh grade. We were classmates. Never really that close, but I’m here now,” I said.
It had been almost a month since X fell into his coma. One minute hanging with his friends, another minute his life had been turned upside down. All in one instant. X was kind of the representative of our grade: he was nice, smart, and a good athlete. He ran the student council and made everyone feel like his friend, even if they had never met before. We were acquaintances, nothing more. Even so, he was my classmate, and that was enough reason for me to stop by. I inspected his face. His brown hair was tousled, lacking the gel he usually used in such quantities. His face looked tired. There were creases in his cheeks that I had never noticed, a lack of muscle underneath his hospital gown. I didn't really know what I was doing there- we really were only classmates. I felt it was the right thing to do, supporting him. I pulled out the book I had brought with me to read. “I don't know if your remember, but we were in science class together once. You seemed to like stars, so I brought you this astronomy book. I’ll just start I guess…” I took a deep breath, and opened the heavy astronomy textbook. “Our world is a small part of an indescribably large universe, filled with infinite amounts of planets, moons, and stars….”
He pulled my baseball cap down and smiled his big smile at me. “Daddy, daddy pick me up!” I said to him. My father looked back down at me, smiling, and grabbing me, threw me into the air. I screeched with the joy only retained by an excited 6 year old. “I’m a star! I’m in the sky with all the stars!” I yelled. He placed me down and sat beside me. “You know, Ella, you can do anything you want to. You go touch the stars if you want to touch ‘em.” my dad answered. He threw me back into the air again- I almost did reach the stars. “Ill tell you a secret though, he said. “You don't have to reach for the stars, just be one yourself!”. He threw me up again.
I walked into the new school, clutching my brand new binders and textbooks to my chest. “Science,” I muttered to myself. I walked through the building, desperately looking for the seventh grade science room. Suddenly a young boy walked up to me. He chattered, “Are you looking for the science room? I saw your binder. Follow me- its right over here.” As we walked, he talked on and on about the layout of the building. Science and math were in one hallway, English and history in another. In the science class, we opened our books to a page with charts and maps. I already was eagerly anticipating all the discoveries and findings we would make that year. The teacher, eyes shining with excitement, began to speak. “Go to page 93 everyone. Today we are talking about the creation of a star. Space is a complex, confusing place. When you guys think of stars, you probably think of the little dots up in the sky, right? Well guess what?” The teacher paused for dramatic effect. “They are huge! Stars start small, from the littlest pieces of gas and dust, and they grow into giant infernos of heat and turmoil and chemical reactions!” The teacher looked around the room to see our reaction to his revelation. I looked over to see the boy who had walked me to class equally engrossed in the lesson as I was. His head bent over the book, flipping pages to try to find more information on the stars.
“Will you grab my suitcase, Ella?” my dad shouted from downstairs. I grabbed the light pack, and slid down the railing. He grabbed it and pulled me into a tight hug. Releasing me from his grip, looked into my eyes, “just because I’m not around doesn't mean you can’t get stuff done. Eighth grade isn't really that bad- just focus on the parts you like. Its great because you are learning about the sky in that astronomy class of yours, and I’m up flying in it.” he joked. “Ok dad. Come back soon!” I shouted out the door. He waved goodbye.
I looked around at my classmates. Dad was wrong- eight grade was harder than I thought it would be. All my classmates seemed to have their lives worked out for them: some played lacrosse like professionals, there was a group of girls who sang like angels, the smart people sat in the corner over there. I had laid them all out in my head- but where did I fit in? I looked across the school grounds feeling quite misplaced. Looking up at the blue sky, I smiled and knew I should be up there. I felt liberated just looking at it- everything was clear once again.
I stared at the ground, avoiding eye contact with all the people around me. They all wore black and dabbed their eyes with clean white handkerchiefs. I smoothed my blue dress over as I heard the trumpet sound. The men in uniforms brought the box out. None of their stoic faces revealed if they had ever actually known him, the man so dear to me inside the box. I scanned the crowd, searching for my father’s comforting face, though I knew he wouldn't be there. My eyes drifted over to where I knew he was. The mahogany casket had stopped in front of me, draped in a large flag. The cloth’s bright striped pattern of the American flag stood out. My eyes were drawn to the stars.
I closed the textbook and stared at X. “You don't know me. To be honest, I’m not sure if I know me. I am just a small part of such a big school, a big world, and a big universe. To most things, I’m pretty inconsequential. But to be honest, none of use really are. The biggest, most important thing in the whole universe can start as one little speck of dust. It can seem so insignificant, but soon enough, it will swell so big it will shine light on everything around it. Stars in the universe aren't more important than us because we are the same. Important, I mean.” I took a breath again. “You are just as much a star as the sun, X. Please don't stop shining”. I stood up, and walked to the doorway. I paused, and left my textbook on his table. I left it open on the page we all need most- the creation of a star.