Falling Meteors, Rising Stars
The night glittered with a thousand shimmering stars of different shapes and sizes. Once in a while, flashing trails of a falling meteor would add to that dark backdrop a further splash of splendour. The alien stones murmured silence and serenity, lying unnoticed above the two who were strolling around the streets, neither saying anything. The cosmic scenery observed them, as the gentle evening breeze did the greetings. But every time it blew, it seemed as if it were trying to lessen the gap between them, prompt them to talk, to connect… to overcome the boundaries that so definitively separated them.
The young girl felt herself shiver. Against the icy air, she pulled her thin sweater tighter around her body, whilst her brows curved inwards and her teeth dug deeper into her lower lip. Any complicated, noisy thoughts were conveniently shut out by the cold, as what was left in her brain made her sigh heavily to herself instead.
The young man’s stronger body, on the contrary, allowed him to withstand the cold with much more success. He strolled beside the girl in silence, trouble and confusion decorating his eyes as he stuck his hands into his shorts’ pockets. Why did she drag him out if she was just going to wear that same passive-aggressive look since a while ago? What did he do? To say he was confused would fail to capture the extent of total blanking that his mind was experiencing. Why must girls be so different? So difficult?
Sending his brain activity to a sudden freeze, the girl turned around swiftly and stared boldly into his eyes. She opened her mouth for a brief second and quickly realised that she wasn’t ready yet to speak. Letting out a frustrated sigh, she turned her head and body around again, guessing correctly that he was following closely behind like a helpless puppy.
“See!” He began, deciding that someone had to break the silence soon. “You are mad at me.”
“I’m not.” She voiced seriously. Was she not?
“Oh, so you mean avoiding eye contact, or talking to me is not avoiding me? By the way, that means mad.” He responded quickly, feeling himself getting a little riled up for not understanding her logic at all.
They had met for the first time two weeks back. At first impression, he had thought she was just a total nerd… A nice one. But after two to three days of contact, he quickly realised that there was much more to her. Her silly jokes and infectious bursts of laughter were no indicators of who she actually was. As she helped him with an essay he was assigned, the serious look on her face, the intelligence she harboured, stuck to his mind like glue. A few days into the two-week summer school and he already felt oddly drawn to her, noticing her more, thinking about her more. Until two nights ago, when they were alone, he decided to take the opportunity to break down her wall that she kept strangers, acquaintances, and general friends at bay. Selfishly, but successfully, he entered her world and grew even more attracted to her. But only as a friend. She must be.
“I thought we had become good friends.” He added, this time disappointment overtook his voice, much to his surprise. Was breaking the ice with her just a figment of his hallucination late at night when he was desperately trying to keep open his already half-closed eyes?
They… were? She sighed heavily again. Those words did little to calm her inner raging storm. But they only had two more days to be together… They might never see each other again… What was there to lose? “I’m not mad… I’ve just been… Urgh, you’re going to think I’m creepy or weird if I told you.”
“It’s just that… I’m not mad. I’ve just been distancing myself from you.”
The five second of stillness between the two that followed seemed to have lasted much longer. Long enough for a gush of wind to take the girl by a chilly surprise that she wasn’t prepared for.
“Wh-what?” He finally managed to say. “You were trying to what? Why?” A tint of anger painted his puzzlement.
“You’ll be leaving in two days. Actually, tomorrow since it’s already past midnight now. I can’t… I just can’t…” She stuttered in frustration. Taking in a deep breath, she closed her eyes, and irrationally she decided to turn her mind off. “I’m getting too emotionally attached to you.”
“I don’t want to cry.” That was a lie because she already knew she was going to. She was sparing herself from the pain that would follow. “I don’t want to miss you.”
In complete contrast to her heavy feelings, he suddenly felt a jolt of happiness warming his core. “Awww!” He cried out. Her words were like electrical currents that gave his heart a much-needed shock, as his blood also got infected he allowed himself to throw a few victorious punches into the air.
The girl stared at his odd yet undeniably humorous behaviour, and felt herself beginning to giggle. “What are you doing?”
“That’s so cute!” He cried in excitement. “So freaking cute!”
Cute? That wasn’t what she wanted to be, nor was that what she was thinking of. Her rosy cheeks had turned stiff from embarrassment, making her feel both guilty and excited at the same time.
“But please, don’t do that again.” He begged in a strong tone. Unknown to him, he was wearing a pout and his eyes had turned dopey, almost desperate. “That’s so mean.”
Nodding, the girl was containing her urge to wrap her arms around his neck and plant a kiss on his cheek. Was she the cute one here, or him? But he was going to leave in less than 48 hours, flying off to another country so soon… Thorns poked at her chest and unbeknownst to her, she was wearing a frown again. Yet, as she laid her eyes on his smile that was full of simplicity and exhilaration from her words, it made her think that perhaps just for tonight… it was fine to do what she wanted. Even when she understood that anyone who was there with them would point their fingers at her disapprovingly.
She took a deep breath and decided on her own accord, that she would hold onto his warm arm, cuddling it like a koala would to its stick of bamboo. His arm was stiff, but he did not flinch. Hiding her face from his view, she chuckled to herself, knowing fully well that he did not dislike what she was doing but simply didn’t know how to react to it.
“Don’t do it again, seriously. That’s so mean.” He repeated, realising at that moment that he definitely did not want to go through what he went through tonight a second time. Not with her at least. That much he was sure about.
“I won’t, Sorry. I won’t again.” She answered, her voice higher than expected.
Then as she lifted her head up to look at him, instead her eyes became fixated on the starry night. “Wow!” She commented in awe, her arms slipping out from his. “The sky, it’s so beautiful!”
“Yeah it is.” He agreed.
The two took a few moments of silence to stare at the faraway stones. The girl found herself getting sucked into the darkness. The longer she stared at it, the more her surrounding began to fade. The hypnotising sensation was slowly eating into her brain, causing her to think less and less. It was as if the universe was forcing its way through into her to weaken her rationality, allowing her to act more out of impulse.
He decided to stand behind her, placed his hands on her shoulder and moved his head inches away from hers. He felt his hands wanting to slide off and cuddle her from behind, but no… He mustn’t do that. Some boundaries couldn’t be crossed. “You know sometimes stars make shapes right?”
“Mhm, so I want to say something smart but… I don’t know the names of any of the stars nor can I see any shapes or patterns.”
She laughed at his bluntness. “Well,” she pointed at the brightest star that she could see, “That’s Alberto.”
“Alberto?” He repeated. The two exchanged a few glances whilst breaking into hysterical laughter. “That’s great. And that is…. I don’t know, I need to think of a name just as funny now!”
“So…” She began whilst wiping tears from the corners of her eyes. “Who are you going to miss the most?”
He laughed. “That was straight-forward.” Most girls he had met would talk in circles, or at least tried to make him guess what they wanted to say. She was definitely different, so much so that initially it made him feel uncomfortable, but of which he definitely didn’t dislike. In fact, knowing her more now had made him really appreciate this attribute of hers.
“I want to know! Who are you going to miss the most?” She urged, feeling embarrassed but desperate to learn the truth as well.
“I’m going to miss everyone… But you the most.”
Instantly wearing a wide grin, she didn’t even attempt to hide her joy. “You’re serious?”
“Ahhhh yes I am…” His admittance of his true feelings somehow made him feel emotional. He put his hand on her shoulder and gave her a tight squeeze. “I mean it.”
After meeting her, establishing such a strong emotional bond with her, he was certain that time really meant nothing when it came to building relations with another. In fact, why should time be a factor of consideration at all? Time could mean everything, and mean nothing. After all, what was time if we didn’t name it?
She nodded, feeling his warmth seeping into her. “That’s cute. I’m going to miss you the most too, I’m going to only miss you actually.”
The cold bothered them very little as they became absorbed with each other’s stories. They each shared personal stories and hidden emotions that neither shared with their own close friends. They listened, talked and laughed together as if everyone and everything in the world had vanished leaving just the two of them on Earth. She enjoyed it very much, as most guys in her life never talked about sensitive topics. He conveyed his feelings as if he had lived life twice as long as she had, an extremely charming trait that had pulled her towards him since that night when he melted the ice between them.
He also couldn’t help but indulge in the moment. Sure he had close friends he could talk to back at home, but for some reason, whenever he was talking to her words would flow out of his mouth like water out of a broken tap. Most importantly, he genuinely wanted to share things with her as if that was the most natural thing to do. He particularly liked how she would interrupt by sharing her views, then follow-up with a story, then throw a question back at him keeping the conversation two-sided.
Just as it had been every time they had moments alone, time passed by as if it were merely the wind. Two hours had passed already, and it was the girl who noticed it first when she checked her watch. There was still one more day left, and they had better get some rest. “I think it’s time we sleep. It’s two-thirty already.”
“Is it? Wow, I didn’t notice!” He didn’t want to leave just yet, but he knew that they should.
As they headed back to the dormitory that they were staying at, a question that had been occupying the bottom of his gut since he realised that he was going to really really miss her suddenly came bubbling up his throat. “Hey, what if we don’t ever meet again?”
The question instantly put a pout on her face. She didn’t want to hear that question. True… Usually people forget the friends they make at summer schools pretty quickly. They might keep in touch for the first two weeks after the end, but keeping in touch afterwards tended to be difficult. Especially how school was going to start for them, life was definitely going to pull them further and further apart. Why did he have to ask that when she had finally managed to rid those unsettling thoughts! “Don’t say that please, it makes me so sad!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. No, we will see each other again.” He quickly responded.
“But I do agree with you to an extent. We probably won’t see each other again…”
“No!” He snapped. “I will make sure we do.”
She held his strong eyes and felt herself smiling gently at his response. For now, at this very moment, that was enough.
He let out a sigh as they reached the door to their dormitory. “I’ll remember you forever.”
She nodded, signifying that she was also going to remember him forever. Then at that moment, she caught from the corners of her eyes something uncanny in the sky. She turned quickly and caught two meteors zooming past. “Oh my god! Meteors!”
“What?” He turned around and his mouth opened in surprise. “Oh my god, wow!”
“We need to make a wish!” She exclaimed.
The two, simultaneously, clapped their hands together and closed their eyes to make a wish. The girl didn’t know nor did she attempt to guess what he was wishing for, but she knew very well what she wanted.
She was twenty-one year old, a programme co-ordinator of the summer school, just graduated from university with uncertainty in her heart every day as she worried about her ability to join the world as an actual adult. He was sixteen, a student with budding talent to fare very well in life, an observation that all the staff members at the summer school agreed upon unanimously. Five years was a big age difference for them now, and even though she had tried to deny her romantic feelings for him, at that very moment she decided to let herself loose for five seconds as she spoke to the heavens:
‘I want to see him again.’
When she was done, she found herself staring at his serious face. She smiled to herself, not making any noise, memorising every detail of his face that she knew she was going to not remember.
“Okay!” He opened his eyes whilst looking at her with a wide grin. “I made a wish.”
“No shit sherlock!” She teased.
It was wrong to tease him like that, it was wrong to have sworn in front of him. It was wrong to harbour the feelings she had for him. But sometimes, the essence of something being wrong makes you want it very badly, and only by having it does it make everything seem right.
“Hey, is everything okay?” He asked, looking upon her expression that he couldn’t quite understand. Was she cold or merely tired?
“Mhm.” She took a deep breath and broke the eye contact. “Thank you. For everything. I can’t believe we managed to establish such a friendship.”
“I have to thank you. And yes, I can’t believe it either but… I’m going to cherish it forever.”
“You’re like the brother I never had.”
He glanced at her happy expression and could only smile back. “You would be a great sister.”
Whether he meant that, she wasn’t sure. Whether he felt the same way as she did, she wasn’t sure. Whether they were going to keep in touch, she wasn’t sure. But one thing for sure, was that right at that very moment, the emotional connection that she felt with him was one that she had never felt with anyone else before. Every time he spoke was another tick on the clock, yet the bizarreness lied in the fact that time spent with him felt as if time was frozen… sometimes actually going backwards.
Before they headed off to their own bedrooms, they hugged with all their strength. She wrapped her arms around his neck whilst he enveloped her with his longer, stronger, and thicker arms. He faked his yawn and sleepy eyes, hoping that she wouldn’t notice through the tightness of his hug that he didn’t want to let go at all.
“Good night.” She whispered.
“Good night.” He whispered back.