The Stars Will Go on Forever

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
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Submitted: April 05, 2017

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Content

Submitted: April 05, 2017

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He lay the blanket down and dropped a picnic basket along the checkered cloth, delicately placing rocks on each of the blanket’s corners so the wind wouldn’t blow it away. She watched him take out all of the basket’s contents, rubbing her shoulder as the cool breeze made her feel a chill that moved throughout her body like water rushing down a mountain.

“Seems a little late to have a picnic,” she said lowly, looking out at the sun dipping past a line of trees that seemed as far as a drawer could sketch. “Sun’s already going down.”

“It’s the perfect time for a picnic,” he said, and he started to unpack the basket’s contents as she moved a bit closer. The fresh couple had been dating through long-distance for months and were a bit quiet since it was their first time meeting – she couldn’t help but wonder what was in his head as she saw it move from a glowing orange to a faded blue, the dark sky hovering over. The stars were coming out and she smiled at them as she remembered the sweet things he would say to her over the phone; on boring nights, on happy nights, and most importantly, on dreary nights. Ever since she was a little girl there were evenings where she would get home and look up at the moon, wondering if her love was looking at the same blue sphere, at the same time, with the same idea.

There was a certain night where she opened her window with a cup of tea and looked out frowning at how badly her day had come and gone when the phone rang. She walked over and it was him, his voice making the open window’s breeze feel like a warm hug, his words giving her lift as if she could grow wings and fly right out the sill at that instant, and she felt it again as she saw him unpack the basket, his eyes gleaming at her as if she were some rare precious stone. She walked over to him and sat along the cloth as he took a thick and snuggly blanket out of the picnic basket followed by a dish of apple pie.

“For my apple pie,” he said, carving out a slice as she felt the same warmth she’d felt all those times the phone rang. “Look,” he said, peering past a little pond. “Do you see?”

She squinted her eyes and saw instantly what he was referring to – the full moon’s reflection on the glistening water. “Yes,” she nodded, wrapping her body with the fuzz of the blanket. “Did you know,” she said, “that the moon was once a part of the earth?”

He nodded his head and cut a slice for himself, smiling. “Yes, I did actually,” he said, “It’s like a dead part of the earth, right?”

“Sort of,” she said, and the stars shone bright above them, “an asteroid struck earth and a hunk flew off and got caught up in earth’s orbit. That hunk got smoothed out in its orbit and is now our moon.”

“I didn’t know that part,” he said, scrunching his chin as he took a bite, “so much destruction and disaster. It’s such a terrible beginning.”

“And a beautiful ending,” she said, smiling as she took a bite of the pie. He could see the moon’s light beaming in her eyes and it made this song play in his head – it was the distant song of the ice cream man that passed his boyhood home ever so slowly. As a young man, he’d run out with his dollar in excitement to catch the song, running at the van so hard that it warmed his chest, and as he looked into her eyes he felt this same warmth.

“This apple pie is cold,” he said, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she said, “I like apple pie cold.”

“Really?” he asked, and she began to laugh.

She looked down at her slice and shook her head. “No,” she said with a grin. “Not really, and honestly I didn’t expect this as our first meeting. Why are we having a picnic at night? It’s a little…” She looked past her shoulder at the isolated, dark scenery, “cold.”

“There are so many people here during the day,” he said, his eyes diverting hers, “you can never enjoy the park in peace. Night is the best time to have a picnic.”

She looked up at the part of the earth that had broken off of its lively core, the turning piece of broken self that was a depressing reminder of past disasters every night. “I don’t agree with you,” she said suddenly, “I don’t think the moon is a hunk of dead earth. I think it’s beautiful.”

He smiled at her disagreement, enjoying that there was some perspective, like the other side of the moon, he’d never seen before, and took a loaf of bread out of the basket along with some sliced meats, cheeses, and as many condiments as one could think of. “How so?” he asked.

“It’s a different kind of light, a dim light.” She put her thumb to her mouth and shook her head, chuckling. “I don’t know, it’s just - I’m a bigger fan of the faint glimmer rather than the obvious sunshine.” She smiled and lowered her shoulders. “So I agree. Night is the best time to have a picnic.” Their eyes adjusted to the dim light and they each made their favorite kind of sandwich. Before she bit into her creation he stopped her.

“Wait,” he said, “I have an idea.” She lowered the sandwich slightly and frowned.

“What?” she asked “Is there something on my face?”

“No, babe,” he said, slightly grinning almost to the point of laughter, “your face is perfect.”

“Nothing’s perfect,” she said, looking up at the moon, “even the moon has its flaws,” and he stared up along with her, paying close attention to the craters – the scars of unhealed impact.

“Well,” he said, placing his hand along hers and covering a bit of her shoulder with the blanket, “you’re kind of a big deal.” He looked down and shrugged, taking a deep breath, “It may sound like a silly idea, but I think we should switch sandwiches.”

“What?” she laughed, staring down at what he’d made and how she’d never dare to create such a concoction.

“We should eat one another’s sandwiches,” he said, “so that we can get to know each other’s… well… sandwiches.” He laughed nervously and she laughed along with him, switching their paper plates instantly so that the opposite sandwich was before them.

She took a bite and her eyes widened, “Oh my…” she took a few more chews and began to laugh, covering her mouth, “It’s… It’s amazing.”

He laughed a laugh that made a flock of birds fly from a far off birch tree and she laughed along with him. “Now let me try,” he said, and he took a hearty bite, his insides warming as he chewed and looked into her eyes. “Mine is amazing too,” he uttered, and then he looked up at the stars that began to twinkle brighter as the sky turned a dark purple. He frowned slightly and she felt the aura of sadness coming off him, and they looked at each other with concern. “It’s just that,” he said, looking down at his sandwich, “This sandwich is going to end. Everything’s going to end. Do you ever think about death?”

“Doesn’t everyone?” she asked, her eyes looking up at the stars just as he was.

He then smiled as he looked down from the stars and into her eyes, which were just as bright and inspiring – stars that burned in her face, that turned the dark night into bright day. “But at least we’re here now,” he said, and he took another bite of her favorite sandwich.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she said, and she sighed as she looked up at the sky once more. “It makes me sad sometimes that the stars will be around much longer than us.”

“Even stars die,” he said, and she shook her head suddenly in disagreement.

“I think the energy is constantly moving,” she said, “Once one star dies, another is born.” She tilted her head slightly and smiled in a way that made his heart sing the lullaby of the ice cream truck. “In a way,” she said, looking far, not in any certain direction, “this moment, this time, right now… It will always be here. No one can take this moment away from us.”

“You’re right,” he said, “This moment is ours.” He looked down humbly and cleared his throat. “I have a confession to make,” he said, straightening out the cloth of the checkered pattern. Her face grew serious as if she were about to hear something she’d heard so many times before – some flaw, some artifice that had yet to reveal itself. “I decided we should have a picnic at night not just so we could have peace, but so that I could have a little peace as well.” He looked nervously to his left and said quietly, “I have a bit of social anxiety.”

Her concerned face quickly dissipated and she began to laugh, almost with relief. “Well, you’re talking to me, aren’t you?” she asked, and she grasped his hand just as he’d grasped hers. She looked up at the moon, its scars and craters. “I’ve been through a lot,” she said, and a slight scrunch on her forehead showed a line of stress, one that looked like it had grown accustomed to appearing, “and I don’t want to get hurt again.”

“I would never hurt you,” he said to her, and he moved a bit closer so that he could get a better look at her face as she looked down. “You’re beautiful,” he said, and she looked up, the line of stress along her forehead fading away into a smoothed-out surface as she smiled.

“There you go again,” she said, giggling, looking into his eyes. “Giving me wings.” She shrugged and rolled her eyes, “I have a bit of social anxiety too, and I think that’s why I enjoy video games so much. It’s like a dream world – a beautiful escape into another reality.”

“Exactly!” he said, his eyes widening as if she were reading a piece of scripture engraved into his heart, “a world one can create for themselves can be much more beautiful than the world they’re given. Does that make sense?”

“Of course it does,” she said, “reality can be whatever we want it to be,” and then she imagined a world with just he and her, a dream world where the two of them would could be wandering through their own color and smell, a reality forever and ever, one that they’d shaped for only themselves as if the outside were inside. She felt the stars on her back and suddenly felt warm enough to disrobe the blanket and feel the cool nightly air. She looked up at the moon, feeling the blue light soak her body as she shut her eyes. “The moon is moving further and further away from us,” she said with a tinge of solace, “each year just by a little bit. The fact that it’s going away slowly makes me sad, but knowing it will be just as big for the rest of our lives is good enough for me.”'

“That’s like all of us,” he said. “We’re all fading away slowly and slowly, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t here. Like I said, this moment is ours. The stars we see are here, right now, and nothing can take them away from us.” He stayed in the same position, but felt as if he’d moved closer to her, like he could peer inside her, through her and beyond her, and he felt that she was looking at him the same way.

She grinned and took another bite of his favorite sandwich, then swallowed an admirable piece of cold apple pie. He did the same and the two sat in silence for a bit, enjoying the sound of leaves rustling and owls cooing their babies to sleep. “Some of these stars are millions of light years away,” she said, “which means that the light we’re seeing now is millions of years old. For all we know, the stars could already be dead, but the giant burst of light wouldn’t be visible to earth for another thousand years or so.” She smiled. “Maybe one day someone will see the light shining from our sun and think the same thing.”

“Or maybe they already have,” he said. He looked down and chuckled as he chewed, covering his mouth so that he could finish his sentence. He swallowed and smiled, “I know it sounds silly, but ever since I was a boy I would look up at the moon and wonder. I would wonder if the love of my life was staring at the same moon, at the same time, with the same idea.” He shrugged and took another bite, looking down at his food.

She sniffled a deep inhale and tears flooded her bottom eyelid. He saw the sparkling droplets fall from her cheeks like shooting stars and thought he said something wrong. “What is it?” he asked, “are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said, her cry turning into a laugh, “It’s just… You’re so great.”

“So are you,” he said, and he looked up at the sky once more as he took a deep breath. “If there is a light that will never go out, it’s those up there. The stars will go on forever,” he said, and she held his hand.

“Forever and ever,” she said back.


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