The night sky was a mesmerizing sight, wasn't it?
The tiny white sparkles that were speckled across the canvas with a backdrop of deep blue and purple swirls, not to mention the shining ball of soft light.
The view made Ariel feel content as waves of a certain satisfaction washed over her.
She stared at the vast space above her, not knowing how long she had been outside for. The image had consumed her, taken away all of her senses except for sight. To her, time was endless in that moment. She could spend the rest of eternity pointing out every last detail that she could find and never become bored.
Once she had started college, Ariel had begun to separate herself from the real world. She had become enwrapped in the life of studying and parties instead of the life of nature. So, after a few months, she decided that whenever she had a free night, she would lay down on the grass behind her dorm and just look at the stars.
It was hard for her to imagine anything else that made her feel so at peace. At this point in her sophomore year of college, star-gazing had become a sort of outlet for her. If she was ever feeling too anxious or conflicted about something, she would go outside and be able to calm down as she got lost in the sky.
As Ariel began to lose count of all the stars she could spot, her eyelids began to droop. She knew it was time to go back inside her dorm or else she would face the embarrassment in the morning of being found sleeping on the grass.
She slowly stood up and walked back into the building, quietly making her way upstairs to her room. Once inside her dorm, she got ready for bed and slightly washed her hair as to make sure there was no dirt or insects in it.
Ariel fell asleep while connecting the stars within her imagination.
The next morning, the young girl couldn’t help but groan when she awoke to the loud noise of her alarm. For God’s sakes, it was Sunday. How could she have forgotten to turn off her alarm?
She tossed and turned for a couple of minutes before finally getting up, knowing that she was already too awake to fall back asleep. She didn’t have much on the agenda for today, but, at the very least, she was going to take a shower and make herself look decent.
Sundays for Ariel were truly days of simplicity. She almost never had any plans during the end of the weekend, at least throughout the day. She would usually just stay inside as much as she could, watching YouTube and finishing up bits of homework that she had left from procrastinating.
It took forty minutes—longer than usual because she was still partly asleep—for Ariel to become dry and clean. She threw on a pair of black leggings and an over-sized t-shirt that had some band on it. It was strange, she could remember the concert in all of its blue lights and deafening cheers, but not the band. Using a white hairband, she put her lavender bob into a ponytail.
What could she start with today? She had some physics homework left, so perhaps she would just get that out of the way. There were only six unfinished problems and she had a really good understanding of this week’s lesson.
Yeah, it sounded like a good way to begin the day. Plus, if she got it out of the way already, she wouldn’t have to worry about doing it at 3 A.M.
Ariel put on some music and began working.
Twenty-two minutes of hard work and humming went by before she was distracted for the first time.
Her music suddenly paused and her phone’s ring tone went off, breaking her concentration. Ariel jumped in surprise to the unexpected noise. It was a soft chime, but, nonetheless, one that she wasn’t expecting.
She looked at the caller ID before sighing and answering the phone, putting it on speaker out of laziness.
“Good morning, Ariel!” Violet loudly greeted. Christ, how did she manage to be a morning person?
“Good morning, Violet.” Ariel’s voice was a whisper compared to Violet’s. It wasn’t like she minded her friend’s bubbling energy, though. It was a quirky characteristic, one that was impossible to dislike.
It was just so early.
“How are you?” Violet asked. Ariel could hear her walking around, probably making breakfast. Her guess would probably be undercooked pancakes with rainbow sprinkles.
“Oh, y’know. Tired.” As if on cue, a yawn made its way out of Ariel’s mouth.
“Same here. Did you go to sleep late?”
“Uh…” Ariel tried to recall what time it was once she had finished getting ready for bed last night. It had probably been around 1 A.M. “Yeah, I guess so. Did you?”
“Yeah.” Violet sheepishly laughed, the noise immediately telling Ariel why she had gone to bed late.
“Let me guess: you were playing that new PC game that you bought on Thursday.”
“I can’t help it! I’m addicted!” Ariel laughed at her friend’s response. “It's just so much fun.”
“I think you need to take fun in doses.” Ariel checked her work on the third homework question and caught a mistake. She hastily picked up her pencil and fixed her work as she continued talking. “Maybe tonight you should just go to bed. Try to catch up on all the sleep you’ve missed this week.”
“Oh, hey, speaking of tonight…” Ariel froze. She should have known that if someone was calling her so early on a Sunday morning, there was probably a catch. And with Violet, there was always a catch.
“Oh, no…” The response slipped of Ariel’s mouth before she realized what she was doing.
“You don’t even know what I’m gonna say!” Violet's voice was close to a whine.
“I know that it’s going to be something that I’ll end up doing, even if I don’t want to.”
“But you will!”
“Vi…” Ariel sighed, taking down her ponytail and swiftly running her hands through her short hair. “I’m not trying to sound mean, you know I love you, but it’s feels like every week you drag me into something different.”
“It’s not like you never like the stuff we do! Remember when I brought you as my guest to book club? You loved that!” Ariel remembered that meeting. Violet had told her last-minute that she had already promised that she would bring someone and, of course, Ariel was too nice to turn her down. Fortunately, she ended up having a good time since the book of the week was one of Ariel’s favorites.
“Yeah, but remember when you brought me on that double date with those twins?” Ariel cringed at the thought, practically reliving the whole awkward experience in her head. While Violet had been joking around with the brother, Ariel sat in silence with the sister. They were complete polar opposites, having only one similarity in bad conversation skills.
“Funny you’d mention that,” Violet said, nervously laughing once again. Ariel sat up straight.
“Violet. You didn’t.”
“She’s super nice! And you already know her! It’s Zara from political science and I know that you two get along really well. And she mentioned something about how she was interested in you and one thing led to another, it was kind of a blur. Anyway, I told her how you were always free on Sunday nights and that you would love to go on a date with her,” Violet babbled, talking so fast that Ariel had to take a second to process what her friend had just said.
Ariel was mute, staring down at her homework in shock.
“Don’t kill me.” Violet’s voice had turned down to a much softer tone.
“Vi…” Ariel finally spoke. “You’re lucky we’re on the phone.”
“And also I’ve seen the way you look at her so I knew that you would wanna go on a date, too!”
“Not like this, Violet. You know that!” Ariel stared at the phone with disappointed eyes.
She did find Zara quite charming. She was beautiful, what with her long, blonde hair, deep brown eyes, and perfect cheekbones. Plus, she was funny and quite smart, though sometimes she would ask Ariel about some things after class. She was so stubborn and determined, she would talk with Ariel for half an hour in order to make sure she had a perfect understanding.
One time when Ariel had been showing Zara her notes, their hands brushed against each other. Ariel had never prayed so hard that her face wasn’t a bright red.
“I’m sorry! Well, not really, because I know that it’ll go great! And it doesn’t have to be a date date. Just, like, hang out with her!”
“Oh my God.” Obviously, Ariel didn’t have to go on the date. She could’ve just refused and told Zara that it was all a big mistake.
But Violet did say that Zara liked her. And it wasn’t like Ariel had the courage herself to ask Zara out on a date.
“I don’t why I’m saying this, but fine. I’ll do it.” Ariel felt like she was falling into a trap on purpose. But maybe the consequence would be gaining a girlfriend?
“Yes! It’ll be great, I know it! You guys are already so cute together.”
“Wait, I don’t have her number or anything. How am I gonna know when to meet up with her? And where?”
“Actually, I already gave it to her and she’s supposed to text you around 12 or something. So, good luck and have a good time, I know it’ll be great! Love ya!” Violet hung up the phone before Ariel could even say goodbye.
Oh God, what had she gotten into?
A few hours later, Zara did end up texting her. At first, they just talked about Violet and how she was pushing them together, but also how it was hard to not let her do it since she was so lovable. Then they discussed a few random topics, like music and some YouTuber, before Zara finally asked where the date should be held.
Ariel didn’t want to be the one who chose the spot. But then again, she was too scared that Zara would want to go to a restaurant or something. Ariel didn’t like all the formalities that went into dinner dates. Instead, she truly just wanted them to hang out in a calm environment.
Suddenly, the perfect idea popped into her head.
Ariel gave a time and location, along with what they could do, and Zara agreed, mentioning that she was excited for later. A stupid smile came over Ariel’s face as she put her phone down, unpausing her music and finishing her homework.
For the rest of the day, Ariel didn’t know what to do with herself. She read one of her books and made some food, feeling a bit anxious about the date with Zara. It was going to be extremely casual, but it still felt scary. At least they already knew each other and it wasn’t some blind date. But what if she said the wrong thing? What if they couldn’t come up with anything to say?
No, she couldn’t let herself think like that. Ariel just had to believe in herself.
At 12 A.M., Ariel switched out of her clothes, changing into a purple crop-top and a pair of blue jeans. She brushed her hair and put on some gold eyeshadow and pink lipgloss. Wearing make-up wasn’t her favorite thing, but she felt like she should put on a little bit. After slipping on a pair of black Vans and shoving her phone into her back pocket, Ariel made her way downstairs.
Once she was finally at the back of the building, she caught sight of Zara. The blonde was wearing a black shirt with roses on it, along with a pair of blue jean shorts. Her long hair was in a braid, and as Ariel walked towards her, she could see that Zara was wearing silver eye shadow and had perfect red lips.
“Hey.” Zara spoke first, a soft smile appearing on her face.
“Hey,” Ariel said, a smile coming up on her own face. “Here, let’s go over there.”
Ariel lead Zara to one of the only trees in the area. She paused right next to it, where the branches wouldn’t be blocking the view.
“This is good,” Ariel announced before sitting and lying down on the grass. Zara followed suit to the right of Ariel, only a few inches of space left between the two girls.
“Woah…” Zara breathily said, staring up at the sky. Ariel glanced over at her, noticing how the blonde looked amazed. This couldn’t have been a better night. These might have been the most stars Ariel had ever seen during her time at the college. “I never realized… just wow.”
Ariel laughed. “I know, right?”
“Yeah, it’s crazy. And you do this all the time?”
“Well, not all the time. Just whenever I can or if I’m feeling stressed out about something.” Ariel crossed her legs.
“Wow. I never noticed that the view here was so good. I guess that means I’m pretty ignorant, huh?” Zara joked.
“No way. We’re all busy with our own lives. Not a lot of people have the time to just look at the stars.”
Zara hummed in agreement. The two went silent for a moment. There was a slight breeze in the air, causing the tree leaves to rustle and make noise in the quiet atmosphere. It wasn’t uncomfortable, though. Surprisingly. Ariel wasn’t a very awkward person, but it seemed like the quietness should have felt strained. But it didn’t.
It just felt natural.
“So, know any constellations?” Zara asked.
“Mhm. After a while, I thought that maybe I should learn some. Try and culture myself.”
“Makes sense. See any good ones?”
“Hm…” Ariel read the sky. There were four that she could immediately recognize, so she just chose a random one and began talking.
“See those four stars over there? The little cluster?” Ariel raised her left hand and pointed to the sky, hoping that Zara could follow her line of sight.
“Well, those four make, like, a rectangle. Then those two corners connect to one star each, so they have really small branches, and the other two corners connect to more, so their branches are longer. That one curls a little bit right there with those stars, and the other one meets up with those stars and breaks into two paths with those other stars,” Ariel explained, pointing to whichever stars she was talking about. “Can you see it?”
“Yeah, I actually think I can.” A tiny cheer occurred in Ariel’s mind as she put down her arm.
“That one’s Virgo.”
“Wait, really?” Zara turned her head a little bit as to make eye contact with Ariel. “That’s my birth sign!”
“Yep, August 27th.”
“Haha, nice.” Ariel made a mental note to remember that date.
“Do you what it means? Like, the story behind it or something? I’ve always wondered, but I’ve never looked it up.”
“Kinda…” Ariel recollected her thoughts. “There are different variations. You know about Pandora’s box?”
“Well, the god Astrea was the last one to leave Earth and then she became the constellation. Supposedly, when the Golden Age happens again, she’ll come back to Earth.”
“The Golden Age?”
“Yeah, it was the first time period of humans or something. That part I can never remember. But anyway, for now, she’s up there as Virgo, holding the scales of justice, which is actually the constellation Libra.”
“Wow. That’s really cool.”
“I know, right?” Ariel’s heart fluttered in her chest. “All of these stars and constellations have stories and meanings. Like how, as a Virgo, you’re supposed to be really nice and hardworking, which makes sense.”
“You think I’m nice and hardworking?” A deep blush ran over Ariel’s face. She hoped that Zara wasn’t able to see it in the darkness, but the blonde’s cheeky laugh told her otherwise.
“I mean, you’re nice to me and you work really hard in class, so how could I not think that?” Zara laughed more as Ariel’s face burned.
“Sorry, I’m not trying to be mean. It’s just funny ‘cuz that’s the same way I think about you.” Ariel’s heart was hammering in her chest. “Plus, I think about how pretty you are.”
Jesus, Zara was blunt, wasn’t she?
“Haha, I… you’re really pretty, too.” Now all of Ariel’s feelings were out there. There was no taking them back.
As if to assure Ariel that the date was working out perfectly, Zara gently took her hand and moved closer to Ariel so that their heads rested against each other. Zara’s hand was soft, just like her wispy hair.
“Sunrises and the daytime sky aren’t that bad, and sunsets are their own kind of beautiful, but nighttime is just different.” Ariel’s voice was soft. “It’s my favorite. I could just be lost in the stars forever.”
“Me, too. Especially like this.” Zara tenderly squeezed Ariel’s hand.
The moonlight shone on the girls as they kissed.