The Very Old Star and the Very Young Star

Submitted into Contest #51 in response to: Write a story that begins and ends with someone looking up at the stars.... view prompt

8 comments

Drama

The Very Old Star and the Very Young Star

by Kristin Neubauer

A very old star and a very young star hung in the inky sky, surrounded by billions of other stars – some shining, some twinkling, some shooting and some falling. 

“Look down there,” said the old star to the young star. “What do you see?”

The young star peered down, past the other stars, through the galaxy’s swirls and streaks to the speck called Earth. It was a mere particle, but no matter. For a star had the power to observe earthly activities as clearly as a bird perched in a tree.

“I see horses in a field,” the young star said.

“What else?” the old star asked.

The young star squinted.

“A girl. Looking up. At us?”

The old star chuckled.

“Not at you and me. We’re too far away. She is looking at our cousins, those that are closer, those she can see.”

“Why?” asked the young star.

“She is looking for something,” said the old star. “Or rather, someone,” he added with a small sigh.

The young star said nothing. He watched the girl, flooded with a sense of great sadness. Stars, he suddenly learned, were suffused with the thoughts and feelings of those they gazed upon. 

“I first saw her long ago, when she was just a little girl,” said the old star.

The young star studied her intently and realized she was grown. He could see faint lines on her forehead and strands of grey in her hair.

“Why is she sad?” the young star asked.

“Many years ago, a horse lived here. A powerful, magnificent horse. He’d gallop up the mountainside and down into the hollow, leading the herd. Thunderous. Glorious.” The old star fell silent and the young star waited.

“Then one day, a truck lost control and spun off the road. It smashed through the fence and into the horses before they could run. Several died.”

“The Magnificent One?” the young star asked.

“No. But he was terribly injured. Blood everywhere, he could barely stand. His people came for him and helped him into the stable. I watched for him everyday, but never saw him. I feared he died.”

“But he didn’t,” the young star prompted.

“No. One day, many months later, they led him out of the stable. But how he had changed. Unrecognizable. He had wasted away to skin and bones. His back was crooked and he shuffled slowly, head lowered, teetering, like an old man.”

The old star paused.

“Nor could he lead the herd anymore. They galloped off, leaving the broken one alone.”

The young star trembled, the closest a star could come to weeping. 

“And then the girl appeared,” the old star continued. “She was just a child then. Her mother was speaking to another woman and the girl wandered off to the horses.  She climbed through the fence and walked straight to the broken one, as though she knew him.  He did not seem to see her at first. He stood as he always did since the accident, head down, ears back, hurting, angry. But she stood there, hands clasped behind her back. I could see her lips moving. She was speaking to him. And then – ” 

The old star glowed warmly for an instant.

“And then, one ear flicked forward. He extended his nose to her. And then he took a step toward her. She stroked his head. And that was it.”

“What was ‘it’?” the young star asked.

“After that, the girl came everyday. She spent hours with him, grooming, feeding, bathing. Sometimes, I’d even see them lying down together, napping in the field. You never saw a pair so gentle with each other. And can you guess what happened?”

“What?”

“The horse began to get better. He gained weight. He grew stronger and steadier on his feet. His coat began to shine again as did his eyes. He raised his head with some of his old spirit and I started to feel the warmth of hope where once I had felt only emptiness.”

“Did she ride him?” the young star asked.

“Oh no. That horse could never be ridden again. His injuries were too severe. But he did begin to trot around the field. And every so often, he managed a canter. The girl would cheer and clap and run with him. It was lovely to see.”

The young star glowed brightly.

“But as the years went on,” the old star continued, “I noticed changes in the horse. He grew old before he should. The accident had added many years to him. After the girl left each day, he would lie down for a long time and often struggle to rise.  Nights were long for him. He had trouble sleeping. He would not eat, except when the girl was there. He began to lose weight. I started to feel something new  in him.”

“Sadness,” the young star guessed.

“No,” the old star said. “I did not know what it was then, but I have seen it since in other fading beings – even in stars. Flickers of, well, peace, I would say. Contentment, perhaps.”

“What about the girl?”

The old star sighed.

“The horse tried to hide it from the girl, but she knew something was changing. Her touches became more tender, her hours with him longer, but the sadness –"

The old star trembled and then cleared his throat.

“Her sadness was quite difficult to watch. Many nights, when she finally left him, she would stare up at us, tears streaming down her face, pleading for him to get better.”

The old star and the young star sat in silence, gazing upon the woman below.

“One day, the horse watched the girl leave. Once her car was out of sight, he turned and walked slowly to that tree over there. He lay down, let out a deep breath and then….”

“Then WHAT?” the young star asked.

“Then such an enormous feeling of warmth and peace suffused me as I had never experienced before nor since. I did not know what to make of it. The horse was gone, but all his thoughts and feelings whirled around me, engulfed me and I glowed – brilliantly with a thousand colors, I was told - as I never had before.”

“What about the girl?”

“I looked for her everyday, but she did not return. Then one day, not long ago, she appeared,” the old star said, indicating the woman below. “ I did not recognize her at first, for she had grown. I watched her walk through the field and linger at the spots where she and the horse had spent so much time. I then understood the woman was the girl, for a star knows these things.”

The old star and the young star watched her, far below, astride a horse, cantering around the field.

“She has a new horse?” asked the young star.

“I do not know. She appears regularly. She grooms and she rides different horses, but it is not as it was with the Magnificent One.”

The old star and the young star watched her gallop up the hillside and halt her horse at the top. She tipped her head to the darkening sky. The stars were just beginning to appear.

The young star felt a sense of longing, of searching, surround and envelop him. 

“She’s looking for him!”

“She is,” said the old star.

The young star twinkled furiously, dipping this way and that with excitement. 

“He’s here! He’s among us! We’ll find him for her!”

The very old star gazed back at the woman, through the billions of dancing stars, through the spirals and swirls of the galaxy, through the years that had passed and said, almost to himself, “Wouldn't it be lovely if we could?”

The End

July 24, 2020 20:43

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8 comments

Vicky S
20:50 Aug 18, 2020

Hi Kristen, I love the very old and the very young star.two different characters

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Kristin Neubauer
02:47 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you so much, Vicky! This is a story close to my heart as it is about my horse Bear (the one in profile pic).

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Vicky S
06:54 Aug 20, 2020

You're welcome and bear is very cute

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Daniel R. Hayes
03:59 Mar 11, 2021

Hi Kristin, I know you said looking back on this story you cringe, but I must say that I thought it was a very beautiful story. I love that it's based on your beautiful horse Bear. Your writing has come along way, and I can see silver strands of greatness within this story. A prelude of the greatness to come :) I wanted to share with you a quick special memory. I had a hectic day today, and I thought about your story "Lumpy and Rooster." It made me smile, and I remembered something I had forgotten a long time ago. I was living with my Gra...

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Kristin Neubauer
20:29 Mar 11, 2021

I can't believe Buck was sold out from under you! What a shame, but at least he gave you a special memory to hold onto. I love all animals - even cows - but they certainly aren't as magical as horses. My trainer - who is now in her 80s - tried to ride a cow when she was 14. It didn't work. Thank you for thoughts about the story.....Bear was such a special fellow that I hope to write his story one day. But I haven't figured out how to do it. Hopefully it will come to me at the right time.

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Daniel R. Hayes
22:56 Mar 11, 2021

She tried to ride a cow? Wow! That's really cool. I'm laughing right now :) When you do write Bears story, I'm sure you will make him proud. I would love to read it when you get the words out. Yeah, Buck was sold away. I can't believe I forgot about that, and like I said I was thinking about your story at work and the memory just came back to me. It was a sad ending but a great everlasting memory that I won't forget again.

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Kristin Neubauer
20:29 Mar 11, 2021

I can't believe Buck was sold out from under you! What a shame, but at least he gave you a special memory to hold onto. I love all animals - even cows - but they certainly aren't as magical as horses. My trainer - who is now in her 80s - tried to ride a cow when she was 14. It didn't work. Thank you for thoughts about the story.....Bear was such a special fellow that I hope to write his story one day. But I haven't figured out how to do it. Hopefully it will come to me at the right time.

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Sia S
07:31 Nov 09, 2020

Lovely. And very cute, keep writing!

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