Short story: Becoming One with the Stars

May 29, 2024

Photo by Євген at Pixabay

Jack-Quwarn Francis-Manu explores poignant connections from the past

“It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions lately,” Christopher said, looking up at the stars.

“Why’s that?” Lucas enquired.

“Some days I wake up with this heaviness in my chest but other days, I wake up feeling as though there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“A little beacon of hope.”

“Exactly.”

“How does this make you feel?” asked Lucas.

Christopher sighed, taking a deep breath in, “I don’t know, at times I feel like a fraud.”

“You’re being too hard on yourself.”

“Maybe.” Christopher went silent, staring into his eyes.

“It’s been tough for a while, but I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere now.” Christopher sighed, letting out a deep breath that he didn’t know he was holding in. He felt better now, free and at ease with himself. “You know, it’s my birthday today,” he said.

“I know.”

“I wasn’t sure how to celebrate.”

“So you decided to come and see me?”

“Yeah.”

“You could’ve gone out with some friends.”

“I wanted to be here.” Soft silence hung in the air as Christopher took in his emotions.

“It’s time to let me go.”

They rocked together back and forth like two children playing on the swings

Tears fell from Christopher’s eyes, the words cutting deep. His heart ached, longing for a sense of comfort. He turned to Lucas and smiled back, forcing the sides of his cheek to rise. They rocked together back and forth like two children playing on the swings. The wind brushed against his face as he drifted, becoming one with the breeze.

“But, why?” Christopher whispered, staring into his eyes. They were a hazelnut brown, mirroring his own, twinkling with a shine, a hint of life beaming inside. He felt grounded and safe in his presence. This was his place of rest, full of pure comfort and bliss.

“It’s time,” Lucas replied.

“But what if I’m not ready yet?” he said, shaking his head. The tears began to flow now like waves in the sea. His swaying paused as he listened for a response.

The tears picked up their pace, streaming down his face. He wiped his eyes clean, trying to calm himself down. He fixed himself and lay his head on his shoulder, breathing in heavily. From his view, he could see the stars, glimmering with hope, a desire to burn bright and light up the sky. Tonight, the clouds had cleared. Nothing could block the mesmerising radiance from afar. He smiled at the sight, finding solace in affliction.

“It won’t be the same without you,” said Christopher, swaying once more. He could hear the humming of a plane engine, droning in the background. Looking up, he saw it, up high amongst the stars.

I’ll be your North Star directing your every step

“Do you remember our trip to Greece?” The question came, disrupting his thoughts. “You were always scared of planes, weren’t you?”

“Yeah, and I only got on because you were there with me.”

“You had something on your mind that night, a question you wanted to ask me.” Christopher smirked at the thought, the memory coming to the forefront of his mind.

“I asked, what do you want to be when you grow up? You just stared out the window, watching the clouds and said, I want to become a pilot so I can be one with the stars!” Christopher’s voice cracked at the end of the sentence, his smile, and his head faltering slowly.

Of course, he remembered it; how could he forget? The plane was packed, each seat occupied. It was noisy all around him, voices coming from every direction. He remembered the buzzing of the intercom, announcing that the plane was finally ready for departure. Christopher remembered chewing his cheek, his nerves getting to him as they were about to take off. It was a habit he never broke out of, tracing the scar with his fingers. The feeling sent shockwaves through his body, a sudden shudder at the thought of it all.

“I’ll be your North Star directing your every step,” said Lucas.

Christopher sniffled, his heartbeat beginning to accelerate. “How’d it feel when you got your pilot’s licence, to finally be able to accomplish your dreams?”

“It was an incredible feeling, it’s still so surreal to me.”

“How does it feel when you’re up there, as the pilot we knew you’d be?”

“It’s amazing, I feel at peace when I’m up here. My thoughts are silent and it’s just me, alone, cherishing every second.”

“The adrenaline must feel sweet.”

“It’s exhilarating. Every time I go up, I can’t believe how it feels. The take-off, the heights, the landing, everything. I feel alive all over again.”

“Has it changed your perspective, you know, on life?”

“In some ways, definitely. I think I embrace the present moments more now than I used to. No matter what you do in life, just live it to the fullest.”

Silence hung in the air as Christopher wrestled with his thoughts. “I’ll never be as brave as you.”

“You already are.”

It was a memory he never forgot, one he cherished forever

Christopher took a deep breath in and sighed, his heart rate pounding in his chest. He began to sway again, connecting with the breeze. It made him feel at ease as he stared at the stars.

“Our time in Greece was amazing. The waves in the sea, the rocking of the cruise ship,” he said, a grin forming on his face. “We ate lobster and steak for dinner. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. It was a massive and the steak was delicious. We played hide and seek for hours that day, chasing after each other. I was searching for you night and day, only to realise you kept switching hiding spots.”

Christopher smiled, taking it all in. He remembered the excursion, getting off the ship; running around with the sand beneath their toes, making sandcastles and running after crabs on the shore; watching as the sun glistened, setting across the horizon, colours of orange and gold, illuminating the sky. The music was terrible, but the experience was incredible. It was a memory he never forgot, one he cherished forever.

“Do you remember the wishing well by the park. The one we used to go to when we were kids?” Christopher said, his mind slowly drifting. “We made wishes, thinking they’d come true.”

He paused, his mind now racing. He put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a silver coin, like the ones they used to toss in the water. He weighed it in his hand, holding it firmly in his grasp.

Christopher’s gaze got lost deeper in the stars, reliving the memories

“I still remember our little tradition. We closed our eyes, threw our coins, and made wishes, listening to the water splash. I can see us there now, tossing coins with no clue about what the future would be. But it always felt magical, a place where we felt anything could happen, everything was possible. The well was always filled with water, surrounded by flowers and bees. The sun hit our faces, shining bright in the heat. One bee tried to sting me. I ran off, screaming my lungs out, thinking I was about to die!”

Christopher’s gaze got lost deeper in the stars, reliving the memories. It felt like yesterday when they were out there, having the time of their lives. They used to race each other to the well, seeing who could get there first. They would cheer as they arrived around it, doing their favourite chant.

“Wishing well, wishing well, wishing well!”

He looked back and found himself doing the fist pumps in the air.

“We’ve come so far since those days and yet now I’m wishing we could go back. It was never about the wishes, it was about us making memories that we would hold onto forever.”

Christopher spun the coin between his fingers, his heartbeat thumping. Slowly he nodded, instinctively flicking his wrist. He stared as the coin took flight, spinning in the air. Reaching up, he caught it, holding it firmly in his grasp.

“I think you’re right,” Christopher said, turning to face Lucas.

“Right about what?”

“You know what.”

“I know but I want to hear you say it.”

I’m always with you, no matter where you go

Christopher began to tear up now, his throat feeling dry. He coughed and sat up, finding the courage to continue. “I’m ready to let you go.”

He felt a light breeze across his face, staring into his brother’s hazelnut eyes.

“I’m always with you, no matter where you go.”

Christopher turned back once again to the stars, slowly closing his eyes.

“Happy birthday, brother. I still miss you every second. We’re twins for life, a bond that transcends death. I’ll carry your love with me forever. You’ll always be my North Star.”

Christopher’s voice trembled as he finished his sentence, feeling a tear roll down from his eye. He wiped it clean and stood up, his eyes shifting to the flowers on the grave. There were bouquets of all kinds, an array of colours lighting up his vision. It felt magical, giving him a sense of ease. Standing tall before him was a headstone engraved with his brother’s name and a sentence that lay beneath it.

I wish to be a pilot so I can be one with the stars.

The sides of his lips curled into a smile, as he read it silently in his head. He took the coin from his hand and reached out towards the flowers, his fingers shaking as he got closer. He placed the coin next to them and felt a breeze flowing across his face, causing him to lift up his head. The stars were shining brightly tonight, comforting him in his affliction.

Jack-Quwarn is currently studying BTEC Sport, Sociology, and Psychology. He's passionate about reading, creative and informative writing, as well as sports.

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