Elodie's house was filled with shadows. A city of intricate spider webs gleamed in the darkness like a necklace strung with tiny pearls. The creak of every floorboard whispered ¨ abandoned¨ with each step. there was a hole in the ceiling with mismatched buckets clustered underneath, a lonely raindrop drip-drip-dripping into one. Mia’s mother assured her this was just an example of Elodie's senility, something made on urge- a final gasp of air inflamed by broken memories and the fear of being forgotten. She can remember the last time she was at Elodie's house by herself, a week before her thirteenth birthday. She lied on a mattress, underneath the newly cut out ceiling hole, wrapped in a blanket Elodie made- one riddled with blues and greens and inky blackness, the softest thing she had ever felt. It was a clear night, and the stars burned into the night sky the way they only could in the countryside. Mia felt so close to them.
Elodie would have hated the way she looked in the coffin. Her curls were were lush and sleek. She had on more makeup then Mia had ever seen her. She was perfected there: vague and generic and pretty and dead. She looked as if she could be anyone's grandmother. But she wasn't- she was Elodie! ¨ I made the hole so I could see the stars ¨ Elodie, the Elodie that was always outside, writing poetry and making raspberry tea, and the Elodie that never wanted you to call her grandma, only Elodie. The only adult Mia truly considered her friend.
After the funeral, Mia sat in a long row of people, listening to a man read the will in a painfully monotone voice. The sky was getting darker, and the air was growing colder, and she sat in a long row of family members in ill-fitting suits and dresses she dug out of her closet- each as black as obsidian. She sat sandwiched between her great uncle- a lofty man with silver hair and a real-life monocle, and her cousin, a 19- year woman old with short red hair and a constellation of freckles, who had shot up in height since the last time Mia had seen her years ago. Everyone sat around picnic tables littered on the edge of a field that seemed to go on forever, hearing the cars speed by as the man mentioned every last bit of Elodie’s property. ¨ And Finally, for Elodie Mathew’s home, who she grants to her granddaughter Mia. She is allowed to use it for what purposes she feel are fit, as long as it is well cared for. That concludes the will reading. There were a few beats of silence, then the redhead woman shot Mia an astonished grin. ¨ You’re so lucky!¨ She gushed. Who would want a small, derelict old house in the countryside with a hole in the roof and scarce furniture? Mia stared up at the stars drowsily, feeling dazed. She did. A lone silver streak drifted across the night sky. Mia smiled up at her newfound cousin. ¨ Yes, I am.¨
I can’t believe the stars have chosen me.
1 month later
The smell of fast food grew almost sickly, sealed in the car is it sped across the highway. The sky was as black as a chalkboard.
Mia looked sideways at her mom, who stared ahead at the road blazing with the taillights of cars. Everything in the labyrinth of highway was dreamless and godless and starless- black sky and artificial lights blazing forever, a scene viewed from the inside of a car throwing itself down the highway, far above the speed limit as was the way of Mia’s mom. Both of them knew her mom was avoiding the topic of Elodie’s house, and both knew Mia desperately wanted to go. Mia looked back at her mother, whose face was twisted into a frown. ¨ So..when can I go to Elodie’s house?¨ She offered, twisting a string of her hair. Her mom stared ahead. ¨ Mia, I already told you we can go in summer when I get time off.¨ Mia’s mom was a third grade teacher. Mia frowned. ¨ I can drive there myself. ¨ The sixteen- year old objected. Mia’s mom tipped her head back and laughed. It was difficult to tell if it was bitter or if she actually found her funny. Finally, she said: ¨ Mia, you got your license two weeks ago. Forget going on this highway and countless others. Not going to happen. ¨ Elodie turned to look at the window, streaks of color speeding past. ¨ At least I know what a speed limit is. ¨ She muttered. ¨ Didn’t you fail your driving test fourteen times?¨
Her mom’s head turned from the wheel to glare at Elodie as she fumbled for the window lowering button. ¨ Excuse me, young lady, that isn’t- ¨
Elodie lunged for the wheel, saving them as a tipsy car skidded ahead of them, centimeters away.
Elodie kept her hand on the steering wheel, her mom looking at her blankly. Finally, her mom’s hands returned to the wheel.
¨ Oh, wasn’t it 12 times?¨
Her mom stared at the road ahead with hollow eyes. ¨ Uh-huh.¨
And now here she was, standing in a small, scarce house in the middle of nowhere. Mia wasn’t sure what she had expected to feel. Comforted?
Instead, she just felt hollow. She was a ghost, drifting across the floors of a house just as dead as she was, the only sign of her human-ness the familiar creaking of the floorboards under her feet. In some ways, nothing had changed since the last time she had been there. The clock still kept a quiet, steady beat. Pearly Spiderwebs grew intricate cities suspended on the ceiling, although Elodie never seemed to mind those. The house still smelled faintly of raspberry tea. And- she noticed once she entered the living room- a raindrop still fell into a bucket from the ceiling, into a faded blue bucket that was now overflowing. But everything was different, because Elodie wasn’t there. She would never be there again. Mia felt her eyes get hot, but she had promised herself she wouldn’t. It took a narrowly avoided car accident to bring her here, after all.
After lugging a spare mattress out of one of Elodie’s closets, carefully moving the family of buckets to the sides of the room, and lying down underneath the ceiling hole, Elodie couldn't fall asleep. The last time she was here, Elodie was right behind her, on the couch. The clock was ticking back than, too, and the house smelled the same. But Elodie wasn’t here. Mia tried not to cry, but hot tears leaked out of her eyes. She stared up at the starless, tar-colored sky through the hole in the ceiling, feeling hopeless. The hole in the ceiling looked just like she felt. Gaping. An open wound. Tears kept falling. Why couldn’t she see Elodie just one more time? They could read poetry in the field where she had attended her funeral and- and drink tea, and everything would be okay. The thought only made her cry harder. For hours, Mia tossed and turned on the mattress, Elodie’s absence making it impossible for her to fall into blissful sleep. This continued into she reached the other side of the night. With bleary, hot eyes, she stared up at the clock and saw the hands reach 3 a.m. She stared blankly at it, unable to move or wipe her tears or do anything other than stare up at the ceiling, eyes glazed.
Then something began to happen. Streaks of light began to dance in the corners of the room. Slowly, the angelic beams moved closer and closer to her. They danced like fairies, engulfing her in pure light, wrapping her in blissful comfort.
Mia knew exactly who the light was.
It was Elodie.
She felt herself being lifted up, up, until she drifted up out of the hole cut through the ceiling and landed softly on the roof. She gazed up at the sky and noticed something-
It was filled with stars.