“But for me, the comet brings no fear. No, I glaze joyfully. At this bright star, having traced it’s parabola, With inexpressible speed, through immeasurable space seems suddenly to have stopped like an arrow piercing the Earth. Stopped for me.”
The skies were beautifully clear, the sort of night one could only see in their wildest dreams. Stars dripped down from the clouds, while others shot across the sky. Shiori cuddled up against the wool blanket she had brought with her outside, barely large enough to fit over her whole body. A small pillow lay under her resting head, her dark hair sprawled out above it. Despite the wide array of space in front of her, Shiori’s eyes focused solely on one star.
“Rumi,” she whispered, turning her head away from the shining ball of brightness. “Rumi. I’m so sorry.”
Her head had fallen off the pillow and onto the wild, itchy grass, as her hair began to tangle up in the falling leaves. She couldn’t bear to look at the star anymore. Not her star.
They say that on this night the two star crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi can see each other from across the Milky Way, and even then only when there’s good weather and clear skies. Shiori glanced up again, looking towards the moon, with it’s faint halo and crystalline round shape. Slowly, she lifted up her pointer finger and traced around the outline of a rabbit on its surface.
“Remember, Shiori,” the voice rang through her head, a memory from long ago. A voice that drifted through her memories often, but was never truly gone. Her grandmother’s voice. “The moon rabbit will always be there, in the sky. It will always be with you.”
The image of the rabbit was stuck in Shiori’s mind now, but it still didn’t bring her to sleep, nor did it allow her to forget what she needed to remember. Memories are painful, that way - only gone when we don’t want them to be, she thought. Only gone when the world dictated so.
Rumi’s star still shined bright, but Shiori ignored it, instead directing her eyes away from the moon and onto the whole sky. It looked almost like a chunk of lapis lazuli, speckled with pyrite stars and lazurite space in between them. It was no wonder to Shiori that the stone was compared to the heavens by the ancient Egyptians, even if she had never seen the Egyptian horizon. But, of course, it was just another reminder, each and every night of what she had lost.
Rumi. The only one who stayed by her side. The last one to leave.
She was gone, and yet, still, she was the only one left. The others still whispered to her in the dead of night when she needed them most, but Rumi was gone, placed in the stars for eternity just like the moon rabbit.
She would never be back.
None of them would ever be back.
A faint breeze came over Shiori, blowing the baby blue wool blanket she was clutching close to her away. Firmly, she held onto it, though the wind fought hard against her. The blanket held no special significance other than the necessity for it on such a windy day, though Shiori felt a strong attachment to it in the moment. Perhaps she just needed something to hold onto.
From the corner of her eye, Rumi’s star glistened, taunting Shiori. Look at me, it seemed to say. It's me, Ori. Just look at me.
But Shiori wouldn’t listen to her own mind, tempting her with false perceptions of reality. Rumi may well be in the sky, but there was no way for her to communicate with those below her. She was just as gone as the rest of them. Even worse, Shiori could see her every time she looked up at night. She could see her twinkle through the atmosphere, see her illuminate the sky. Once, she even looked through a telescope, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of her bright blue eyes, but all she could see was the pure white of the stars.
She was gone. Gone forever.
Forever lost into the void that was the sky.
Shiori remembered the exact moment when it happened. It was about a year ago now, when the two girls were both around seventeen. They had been looking at the stars, of course. Even then, Rumi’s eyes were on the stars. They never wavered.
Never wavered once, not when the wind whipped against her long black hair tied up neatly in a hairband. Not when the sea below them splashed onto the docks, or when the clouds parted in the sky, revealing the moon. Full, just like tonight. Not when the car’s engine moaned and groaned from across the street, or when it backed up right into her shoes, black like her hair. She only turned away to look at Shiori as she called her name, desperately calling her name, grabbing her wrist, trying to get her away from the dock.
And then their eyes met - lapis blue of the sky and silver like the stars, met right before she fell. “Ori,” she had said, her wrist slipping down from the harsh pull of gravity. “Ori…”
And that was it. She was gone. Gone, like the wind that had blown against her hair, like the sea that had splashed up against them, like her blue eyes, blue like the sky, lost in the halo of the stars.
But before she was gone, her eyes switched silver, just like Shiori’s own. Just for a moment, before she fell, they reflected something - either the stars above or her own eyes from the moment she and Rumi’s met, but silver, nonetheless. As silver as pyrite is gold - false, fake, not legitimate, but still looking the same. And pyrite was what the Egyptians thought of when they saw the stars, after all. The same stars that Rumi wouldn’t take her eyes off of. Not until it was too late.
And then, somehow, Shiori looked up, following her glance as she fell. At this point, the sky had turned a sort of navy blue, not like the azure eyes Shiori knew so well. But those silver orbs had moved, and somehow, just somehow, they were above her now, twinkling seamlessly in the sky. She had made it into the stars.
It seemed impossible, but Rumi was known for the impossible. If anyone were to make it up above into the sky, it would be Rumi, with her head in the clouds and her eyes on the horizon. She was the most nonchalant person she knew, yet simultaneously the most passionate about the things she cared about, as well. And there was always her obsession with the stars. It seemed only natural.
So many people had left Shiori. Her grandmother just the year before, and her friends would each follow suit, either moving away or drifting apart. Rumi was the only one who stayed. She would never leave. And now, selfishly, Shiori realized that she never could.
It was all her fault. All her fault that Rumi was gone, all her fault that she’d never get a proper funeral, all her fault that she was stuck in the night sky. If only she had gotten to her fast enough, all would be well. But she didn’t, and therefore, it wasn’t.
“I’m so sorry, Rumi,” she whispered again, letting tears fall down her cheeks and into her hair and pillow beneath her. “I’m so, so, sorry. You don’t deserve this.”
Finally, Shiori’s eyes landed on the star once again. The star that had dictated her life for so long, the star that had once been her closest friend. The star that was trapped behind an atmosphere, just like the moon rabbit, forced to watch over Shiori for all of eternity.
Always there, but forever gone.
They say that on this night the two star crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi can see each other from across the Milky Way, and even then only when there’s good weather and clear skies.
Silently, the star - Rumi’s star - leapt across the lapis blue horizon.
(Author's Note: Hey guys! I really enjoyed writing this story, because despite it being a myth retelling, it's still very vague, not very direct in its approach, and not a myth I was previously very familiar with, like most I end up writing. I have some other ideas for stories this week, too, and my online school was hacked, so I have a lot of time on my hands. Also, all Japanese name puns were entirely intentional in the making of this story. Oh, and also, someone commented that the author's notes at the end of these stories somewhat take away from the stories - what do you all think, should I stop writing them? Write them only in the comments? Any other suggestions? Well, thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving!)