Blackened Stars

By , El Paso, TX
They didn’t realize it at the time. What it meant--all the stargazing in the bed of His truck and the stolen cans of beer from under His father’s kitchen sink. She fell for Him like you fall asleep--slowly at first, with His brown hair that was always standing up, like He’d been shagged, and His awkward demeanor, with His routine habit of spouting random facts-- “Did you know that Arthur Conan Doyle derived ‘Moriarty’ from the Latin mori art ti, which means ‘dying is an art’?”--and then all at once.

She wasn’t too good for Him. She wasn’t shy or outspoken, somewhere in the middle. Her teeth were naturally straight--imperfectly so, according to Him. There was no starlight in Her wake. She was a bit of a writer, clacking stories out at night on the typewriter, with Her hair messily pushed back and Her glasses crooked on the bump of Her nose. She fell onto a pile of bricks when He was eight--He’d pushed her for calling His clay model of the universe stupid--and Her nose had never been the same.

Not that She’d cared.

When He was sixteen, He landed a small role in an upcoming movie as a busboy. He appeared in the fraction of a scene, pushing a large roll-on suitcase out of the way of the star of the movie--some big shot name that eventually dissolved into stories of drug overdose and incessant divorce. She was so desperately jealous of him--every morning for exactly two days He would walk proudly to the hotel downtown, with His gold ten-cent buttons gleaming on His pressed black jacket. She knew He’d spent forever last night polishing the buttons with the end of his shirttail. And She would stand out there, in the cold, blowing on Her hands and hidden behind a bulky cameraman, just to watch Him wheel the damn Gucci case out of the Barbie’s way.

She was coming out of a coffeeshop one day, staring at her phone and walking crookedly to the car. She crashed into Him, and Her coffee went flying all over His jumper, soaking the notebook He’d hugged to His chest. Before She could comprehend what exactly had happened, He’d offered to buy her another. And He did. Or rather, She let him. They sat awkwardly in the corner booth for twenty minutes before She bet him five dollars to ask the waitress for a carton of sugar cubes. He forgot how crazy She was and decided to do it anyway, what the hell. He asked for a whole bag and later laughed along with Her at the waitress’s expression. He asked what exactly she wanted with hundreds of sugar cubes and She said “Let’s build wonders!” Together they made the Pyramids of Giza out of sucrose.

The owner finally kicked them out halfway into the Sphinx. He invited Her over to his house, and She hesitantly acquiesced. He made them burnt swiss sandwiches for dinner, and they drank beer that he’d nicked from his dad’s house awhile back. It tasted more than slightly stale.

They ate out back, leaning against the edge of the mouldy brick building, watching the few and sparse stars blink slowly out. They fell asleep there too, sitting back and waking up when the trash pickup clanged by.

By then, it was too late. It was past the point of no return and nothing could stop either of them from falling too fast too far.





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