Grandfather's Star This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 17, 2010
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Chime one. The music of an old yet faithful grandfather clock dances along beside me as I tiptoe through the darkness. Blanket in hand, I’m led by the light of the night sky to our front door. It creaks as I gently coax it open, as if to tell me it shouldn’t be in use so late at night. As I step out into the cool air, the last chime sounds. Midnight. My favorite time. The start of a new day; the gift of a second chance.

Making my way down the weathered front porch steps, a breeze blows through the air and the dead fall leaves crunch beneath my feet, the two working together to alert my senses. As I take a deep breath of the night air, I spread the blanket across the evergreen grass and lie on my back facing the stars. There it is. No, wait. There. I’ve found it. Gazing up at the brightest star, I’ve found him.

For as long as my memory allows, he’s been there.

“Look up at the stars,” my mom would say. “Which one is the brightest?”

“There it is!” my brother would soon claim. Sitting beside him in the heat of a summer night, I’d follow his gaze into the vast sky and see the brightest and most beautiful star. Smiling along with us, my mom would shift her glance towards the shining light.

“It’s your grandfather,” she assured us in the honey sweet voice only mothers seem to perfect. “And what is he doing up there in the stars?”

“Watching over us,” mine and my brother’s voices chimed together. Then giggling, we’d go back to our childhood games. Back to catching fireflies. Back to the small amazements, like the way a single bug could light up a jar.

But tonight is no place for childish games. Just inside the house before me, there’s a cell phone angrily flashing red, full of unanswered texts and missed phone calls. There’s a brother who rarely speaks to me anymore. There’s a fog of insecurities and regrets clouding up my bedroom, making it hard to breathe. Yet here, alone in the black, there’s fresh air and a bright star.

My mind unravels and my voice spills out as I tell everything to the one who will not judge. The breeze drifts around me and the stars grow more defined as the night grows deeper. I speak of the pain, the stress, the worry, and the fear. I tell my secrets. I reveal my darkest side, the pessimist within me, threatening to break free and consume. I expose the insecurities, the endless fog, and the fear of it thickening. I ask why I never seem to be enough, why my best friend is angry, why my parents are disappointed, and why the one who holds my heart in the palm of his hand doesn’t love me anymore. Not needing answers, just needing to speak. Solace found in the simple release of the words. Finally, someone who will listen.

In the distance I hear a familiar chime escape the clock. Yet tonight, it’s a different grandfather I seek to hear. Tonight, it’s simply me and the brightest star.





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