Pointing at the brightest star in the clear sky, George said, “Look Tim, my ma and dad. Oh! I miss them! And look, Ariel. My lovely Ariel. I miss her so much.”
George looked intently at the stars with sad eyes. There was a longing, a yearning, a story of the traumatic separation.
Tim leaned over to lick George. He wagged his tail and then cuddled next to him. They continued looking at the stars till the breeze became harsh and the chill no longer allowed them to be out.
When the sun broke the darkness away, George woke up to a growling stomach. He decided to go pluck some fruits for breakfast and then later go fishing at the pond. He stepped out of his thatched-roof hut to soak in the sunny warmth. The sun had turned everything so bright and colorful. The purple parrots cooed and the red butterflies fluttered past him. The baby squirrels jumped around giving out a little squeal. On the tree, the mother owl was teaching her babies to fly.
George looked across, over to his right, at the mangled spaceship. It lay half-buried in the ground. Some wires hung loose. He remembered how those wires would suddenly let out a spark for a few days after the crash. He had entered the spaceship a couple of times. It was black inside and had a stale burnt smell. He tried turning the switches on and off and played with the transistors that sometimes beeped when he turned the knob. Maybe someone would hear me.
He then reminisced how everything was before the crash…….how happy he was to be studying in his dream college……how excited he was to propose to Ariel after the final semester…….how he’d planned to marry her after his masters in space science…….how he was elated when his application of traveling to space was accepted…….how his life was perfect. Oh how!
George walked towards the metal junk, kicked it, and yelled, “You finished my life!”
Then, letting out a disgruntled sigh he shook his head in disgust and walked away. Tim followed him wagging his tail.
It had been a month since life changed for George. With no one by his side and having to fend for himself for the most basic of things, desperation, trauma, pain and fatigue cloaked him. His daily routine had taken a 360-degree turn.
From a science student who lived with his parents in a swanky 3-bedroom apartment, he now ate raw fruits and veggies, went fishing in the caveman style, hunted for meat to keep him full and warm, drank water from the pond and slept on a bed made of dried leaves and hay.
From fussing about ma-made breakfast that ranged from bacon and eggs to omelet to cereals and milk, it was now freshly plucked fruits.
From attending classes and questioning the professors about earth formations, it was now self-learning how to hunt, climb a tree to pluck tender coconuts, building a house, and keeping himself warm in the cold nights.
From watching movies and playing video games with friends, it was now chasing the exotic birds, watching the fish make formations as water gushed down from the cascade, and of course, stargazing.
From chatting with friends and family on the phone or in person, it was now only Tim.
From the way he woke up each day, dressed up to live a happy life and dream of a happier future, to the way he went off to bed – everything had changed.
George was very good at studies; he always wanted to become a scientist and go to space. But he never knew things would turn this way and he’d be left with nothing. Every night for the last one month, George cried himself to sleep while gazing at the starlit sky.
Tim has been a good companion and was equally sad. He too had lost his human, Mrs. James, in the crash. She had brought him home from a friend when he was just 3-days old. His beagle-y black eyes shone brightly when she lightly patted his tiny head. Mrs. James fed him with a small feeding bottle and took good care of him. When Tim was 2 weeks old, she bought him a silver collar with a royal blue bone hanging in the center that read Tim. It had her address on the other side.
Sometimes, when the breeze is a little strong and it blows crushing the dried leaves, Tim runs around barking as if searching for something. George holds him in his arms and calms him down, “It is not Mrs. James. It will never be Mrs. James again.” Tim looks up at George with his beagle-y black eyes. They are filled with tears of sadness. They hug each other and let their tears find its way out.
One day, as George and Tim were walking up to the pond to get some fish, something pricked his toe. He looked down to see a glasslike stone, the size of a tennis-ball. It was crooked and had tiny spikes all over as if the tennis-ball hadn’t been smoothened on the surface. George picked it up and looked through it. “Tim! It’s a diamond! I have never seen…….damn, never even heard about anything like this before”, majoring in geology helped him here. He then began scanning the ground for any more of such amazing rocks. “Search with me, Tim. We could find more of these, sell them, and become rich. I can finish graduation and you can get a new collar.” Tim wagged his tail in excitement and trotted around George. He sniffed around for some time, stopped at a spot a little away from George, and then started digging the mud out. He then barked as if calling for George and continued digging. George came running to him. The dug-up site sparkled in the bright sun. George’s eyes grew big in amazement, notwithstanding the piercing sunlight.
The dug-up pit was filled with more such tennis-ball-sized stones. Red, blue, yellow, and purple. Tim put his paw on those and jerked back. They all tiny but very sharp spikes. George was still in awe. He then bent down and very carefully picked one up. It shone bright crimson. George lifted it to see it through the sun. The stone reflected the sunlight giving out hues of red – from scarlet to maroon. The maroon color reminded George of his mother’s ring. She wore it in the middle finger of her left hand. Dad had gifted her that ring. “It is the color of my heart that beats for you”, he had told her. Thinking about his parents made George sad again.
He left them there and continued walking towards the pond.
In the evening, he reached his hut tired and hungry. The day had been quite eventful with discovering some sparkling rocks and bagging some big fishes that will suffice for a couple of days. He struck two stones to light a fire and set to roast some for dinner. As the smoke rose, a little part of the sky faded.
Somewhere far far away, the smoke alarms went off. A man rushed in panic. A woman froze at the TV news.
“It’s alright Shelly, I got it”, said Ben as he switched off the alarm.
The space research organization has decided to send another space vehicle to look for the previous vehicle……it has been 30 days and no communication has been established yet……the emergency transmitter receives sounds of what seems like sparking but the scientists haven’t confirmed anything yet…….the organization fears that our first travel to space mission went kaput with the spaceship crashing due to astronomical storms, it deeply regrets the loss that the five travelers including a poodle and their families have to bear.
Shelly broke down in Ben’s arms. The pain was beyond them to hold. Their days were spent waiting at the space organization office for some inputs......any inputs; and the nights passed by in crying. But each moment that went by carried a prayer for their George, wherever he was.
“What do you think ma made for dinner today, Tim”, asked George as he chewed on a half-burnt-half-raw piece of fish while looking intently at that brightest star.