40 comments

Submitted on 07/24/2020

Categories: General

The stars above me twinkle like thousands of diamonds suspended on an ebony backdrop. Gazing up at them, I wish I could freeze this moment and live in it forever. I can hear your laughter in the soft night wind and feel your presence in the whispering leaves. I don't ever want to leave here, to go back to the trials of my life. I don't want to face them without you. 

   Mama cries every time your name leaves someone's lips. She is like glass, fragile, and thin, always on the verge of shattering. Boo tries to hide the pain he feels, but his smile looks as though it has been chiseled from stone. All the life and fun that used to glimmer behind his eyes has faded. Papa’s face is grey and slack, and he moves slower these days. We all do.

   Remember, Chloe, the day that little Brian came home from the hospital? He was so tiny then, his little fists waving as his face crumpled and tears streamed down his rosy cheeks.  

The two of us gazed down at him with wide eyes, unsure what it would be like to be the big sisters of this screaming bundle. Ever the bold one, you reached out and offered him your knuckle in replacement of the binky that no one could seem to locate. He latched on and his whole face relaxed. Right then, we locked eyes and made a silent vow to love him and protect him, and to teach him how to be a Bretwell.

    And as he grew, you played peek-a-boo with him so often, calling “boo!” as you revealed your shining blue eyes, that he became convinced that he was called Boo himself. I guess it just stuck. 

     At your funeral, when one of our stuffy great-aunts would waddle up to the line of family to “pay their respects,” calling him “dear little Bryan,” he would firmly correct them. “It’s Boo,” he would say,  “Boo Bretwell.” It was his last tribute to you, I think. 

    And remember….remember the road trip we took to Oregon, just the two of us after I got my license? We were walking around Portland arm-in-arm, laughing and talking in between bites of ice-cream. Strawberry; our favorite. You dropped your cone, and this little scruffy mop with legs came running out of nowhere to lick it off the hot asphalt. 

You lifted him up and cradled him in your arms. 

“Well, hey there!” you said, your eyes crinkling with laughter in that way that I loved. Before I knew it, that dirty puppy was in our car on the way back to Idaho with us. Mama didn’t have the heart to say no to your or the puppies’ big, wide eyes and so he became a member of the family and was deemed Gulliver. 

    He’s been my companion since you left. I love Boo to the moon and back, but he won’t talk about you the way I need to. He just pretends everything is fine, even though neither one of us will ever be fine again. I suppose we're all handling your absence in different ways. 

     At least Gulliver just sits and listens. He misses you too, I can tell. Sometimes, I find him curled up on your bed, whining for you. 

     I’ll never forget the day you came to me, your eyes puffy and red. Another boy had used you, and hurt your gentle soul. I held you as you cried and I remember feeling a surge of burning protectiveness as only an older sister can. I never wanted anyone to hurt you again. When Asher came along, I didn’t want to let him get close to you. I couldn’t bear it if he left you crying. In my eyes, nobody deserved you. 

But he was gentle and kind and funny, and I was soon forced to accept that he was right for you, maybe in a way that none of your boyfriends had ever been.   

I wonder Chloe, do you remember that terrible night? Do you remember going out with dear Asher? You were just two sixteen-year-olds without a care in the world. I try to imagine what happened in between the time you left our driveway in his red pickup and the moment you left the Earth. 

  I picture you pulling onto the freeway, giggling at Asher’s praise of your new blue dress and blushing when he leans over to kiss you. And then, there is the impact as the drunk driver swerves into Asher’s car. 

Glass shatters. 

Metal grinds. 

And you are both gone. 

Is that how it happened? I suppose I’ll never know. 

      I’m standing here over your grave now, Chloe, and I don’t understand how this cold slab of stone could possibly be the marker of the place where you lie. It has none of your life, your spirit, your fire. It’s just a rock. How could this be where you end? I had always thought there would be a plume of brightly colored flowers growing on the spot where you were buried. Doesn’t nature see how special you were?  Will anyone but me remember your energy and the love that poured from you every day? Or will they stand and recite the things they are meant to say to someone whose sister had died? “ She’s in a better place…it was her time to go...there’s a reason for everything…” All that they say to me seems so polite and so “understanding” and yet so horribly wrong. The words they say could be about anyone. They understand nothing, and they didn’t know you at all. This Earth didn’t deserve you, Chloe. 

     One thing Meemaw said helped me to understand, at least a little, why you had to go. We were sitting outside on the balcony at your wake because I couldn’t stand to look at one more pitying face. I asked her in desperation why God had taken you so soon. I hadn’t cried up until that point, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t broken inside. 

         All of a sudden though, the tears burst forth and wrenching sobs wracked my chest. Meemaw didn’t say a word but sat and rubbed my back until my weeping slowed and I couldn’t cry another tear. That was when she said softly;  “The brightest stars burn out the fastest.” 

  Now, looking up at the billions of tiny white lights suspended in the vast, dark sky, I know that of all the brilliant stars in the universe, Chloe, you outshine them all.   

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

40 comments

Charles Stucker
14:53 Jul 29, 2020

You have a very natural style that manages to minimize use of passive voice. Every structural element is in the right place and the grammar is close enough to flawless that I can't spot anything. Even the title fits both tale and ending. If you win on this prompt, I'll understand why.

Reply

Helen Jett
15:00 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you so, so much. Your comment made my day!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Selene Sweck
13:13 Jul 30, 2020

Beautifully written story. You definitely have talent. My only constructive criticism is who was telling the story. It was just a bit confusing. I’m assuming it was her sister because it wasn’t written from Boo’s point of view, even though he seemed to be a huge character. As a young writer, I’d say you may well have found your career. Good luck! 🙂

Reply

Helen Jett
13:22 Jul 30, 2020

Thank you for your feedback! Yes, the older sister who standing over her younger sister Chloe's grave is telling stories of their family from the past and present, basically how different things are without her. It's then that she mentions their younger brother Boo. I'm sorry if that was confusing :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Conan Helsley
21:31 Jul 29, 2020

Hi! You are my 20th follower so I just wanted to say thank you for following! I look forward to more of your work, too.

Reply

Helen Jett
12:12 Aug 03, 2020

You're welcome! Keep writing!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rhondalise Mitza
15:20 Jul 29, 2020

Wow, stories about the impact of drunk driving always leave me crying, usually because they have to be really well written to tackle that subject gracefully. I wrote a poem about this subject too, it's called Much Too Soon, if you'd check that out I'd be ever grateful. But yeah, you did a really great job with this and I liked how it was directed to the main character's sister. It made it feel just the right amount of personal, really. And I love stars, too, so this prompt made me happy in general. Yay to you for living up to the title! :D

Reply

Helen Jett
15:22 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you so much for your feedback! I would love to check out your poem! 💛

Reply

Rhondalise Mitza
15:23 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you and anytime!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Spider Baby
13:47 Jul 29, 2020

This story is so sad, elegiac even but yet so indescribably beautiful. I really adore the depiction of each of the mourning rituals and how you depicted each character's level of dealing with the stages of sorrow and their individual yet collective grief. I simply love the descriptions of the character, Boo, and the implements of the stars and the role that they play throughout. Your word choices are memorable to say that much and the ending was a bittersweet lamentation. This was indeed well-written. Though, I have never lost a loved ...

Reply

Helen Jett
14:38 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, it seriously made my day! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Hannah B
20:40 Aug 06, 2020

What a beautiful, heartbreaking story. Lovely, personal writing that hits home.

Reply

Helen Jett
22:37 Aug 06, 2020

Thank you!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kiko Van niekerk
07:46 Aug 05, 2020

Helen, can you guess my age from my story?

Reply

Show 0 replies
Kiko Van niekerk
07:35 Aug 05, 2020

Helen, guess my age from my story! can you?😜

Reply

Helen Jett
13:59 Aug 05, 2020

Haha. I don't know if I can. You story is told in a style that really could be multiple ages. My guess would somewhere between 17 and 20? It's really good :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Avery G.
17:06 Aug 04, 2020

Hi! I really liked this story! It is sweet, but sad. I love your writing style! I can't wait to read more of your stories! Great job!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Kiko Van niekerk
08:20 Aug 03, 2020

hey, its me again!💖sorry for asking, but how old are you? your story's are so good that it could only have been wrote by an twenty-two year old!💕

Reply

Show 0 replies
Kiko Van niekerk
07:37 Aug 01, 2020

hey, that was a really good story!!! oh and you might remember me. you were the first person to like my story "stars". thanks alot. and you really have good talent!!✨

Reply

Helen Jett
12:15 Aug 01, 2020

Thank you so much! I do remember your story; it was amazing!!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
10:50 Jul 31, 2020

This is heart-wrenching. I too have submitted a story with the same title. But it fits your story better.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Courtney Stuart
23:26 Jul 30, 2020

this was such a beautifully written story! very strong, too.you managed to keep a bittersweet tone throughout the story, and the way you conveyed the feelings of grief very well, and the language you chose is both beautiful and very effective in telling your story at the same. no words were wasted at all. i also really loved the concept of how you had your narrator address Chloe. there's something cathartic about speaking to the dead, and i'm always drawn to stories likes that, so please believe me when i saw you did such a great job with t...

Reply

Helen Jett
23:49 Jul 30, 2020

Thank you so much!! 💛

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
21:58 Jul 30, 2020

Amazing job! ~ᗩEᖇIᑎ! (P. S. Would you mind checking out my story ‘A Poem By A Star (No, Literally)’? Thanks!)

Reply

Helen Jett
23:03 Jul 30, 2020

Thanks for reading! I will definitely check your story out!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lydia Jett
15:34 Jul 30, 2020

This brought tears to my eyes! Very well done!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Keerththan 😀
07:46 Jul 30, 2020

Beautiful story. Touching story. Well written. Your grammar was very good. Loved it. Keep writing. Would you mind reading my story "The secret of power?"

Reply

Helen Jett
13:16 Jul 30, 2020

Thank you, glad you liked it! I'd love to read your story :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sjan Evardsson
22:59 Jul 29, 2020

I'm not crying... I got dust in my eye. (Okay, maybe I am crying a little.) Heart-wrenching, warm, funny, sad, sweet... there's a little bit of everything in there. Top-notch writing.

Reply

Helen Jett
13:25 Jul 30, 2020

Thank you, I'm glad you liked it!! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Christina Hall
19:01 Jul 29, 2020

Very well written, and touching. Thank you for sharing it.

Reply

Helen Jett
19:05 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you! 💛

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kim Quinn
18:10 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you for reading my story. I like your story. I am now following you. If you can, please follow me.

Reply

Helen Jett
13:26 Jul 30, 2020

Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! I'm now following you as well.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Conan Helsley
16:42 Jul 29, 2020

This was just magnificent. So haunting and beautiful and chilling. I got goosebumps, and it's been a very long time since someone gave me goosebumps. Just a masterful telling of simple grief. If grief can be simple. Only one thing stuck out that I would change, but that may just be stylistic differences. I'll put it here just for charity's sake (The stars above me twinkle like thousands of diamonds suspended on an ebony backdrop. Gazing up at them, I wish I could freeze this moment and live in it forever.) I don't believe "Gazing up at t...

Reply

Helen Jett
17:11 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you so much for reading, and for the feedback. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. As for the correction, I think you're absolutely right :)

Reply

Conan Helsley
17:13 Jul 29, 2020

Keep writing. We need more like you in the world.

Reply

Helen Jett
17:15 Jul 29, 2020

Thank you 💛

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply