The Sparkle Of The Lights

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



Barry looked up towards the sky and saw a rainbow of lights twinkling in the distance. Every one of those small lights was a fiery-hot star millions of miles away. The nearby river seemed to double the number of them in his vision . Despite their vast distance away from him, he could see their beauty from this small rock of a planet. That one belief gave him hope his wish would be heard. With his eyes closed, he prayed. 

“Please let me live long enough to repay my family!” he pleaded.

Barry didn't hear a response. As he figured, it was a silly thing to call out to something that didn’t exist. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and laid down on the river bank. He could hear the rushing of water and the sounds of the nightly creatures, while the warm summer wind blew quietly across him. The mixed variety of sounds was somewhat soothing and a subtle sense of calm started to accumulate. It was one of the only true comforts he had received ever since he was told he had an aggressive form of cancer.

He laid there for a little longer thinking about those things. He opened his eyes and sat up but noticed something strange in front of him. It was another person... or somewhat looked like a person at least. It was shaped like a human and yet it was glowing a soft yellow color. Despite all of this, he wasn’t scared for some reason. He didn’t feel any amounts of danger from this being, but he couldn’t move his body at all.

The being started moving towards him slowly. It took one step at a time as if it carried purpose and meaning with each one. After a few moments, the being was now standing over and looking towards him with a featureless face. He was puzzled about what it was trying to do. It then slowly started to stretch a hand towards his face. One little movement at a time, the being’s hand finally came to be resting on his forehead. He felt a surge of energy go into his body as soon as the being’s hand touched him. The strange being started to glow even brighter than before and orbs were flying off it.

Many minutes passed with Barry still sitting there motionless. The being started to get thinner as more of the orbs flew off and it started to become transparent. Its arm then turned into orbs as well and Barry was able to move again. He slowly stood up and looked at the yellow person. The beautiful sparkles of light coming off it shined brighter than the stars he was looking at earlier. Before he could do anything else, the yellow person exploded into a shower of orbs that slowly drifted into the sky.

Like a slowly rising balloon, the orbs drifted towards the sky. Barry watched as they went higher and higher. The orbs then started to pull towards each other and collected into a bigger ball. Once the ball was done forming, it shined brightly in the sky before vanishing shortly after. Barry didn’t have any idea what that was. He should have questioned it more than he did, but he felt an odd sense of comfort from it. He took one last look at the starry sky reflecting off the river. None of them were brighter than that yellow orb, he thought. And just like that, Barry headed home.


A month had now passed since that incident at the river. Barry was slightly nervous as his doctor called him in for an urgent matter. What could it be? he thought. He arrived at the doctor’s office and opened up the door.

“Perfect, you’re just on time. Take a seat,” the doctor said. 

Barry closed the door behind him and pulled up one of the empty chairs inside the office.

"We were just going over your last scan and found some exciting news,” the doctor said.

“What is it!?” Barry asked with anticipation.

“The production of cancerous cells has halted significantly. At this rate, there is a good chance your cancer will be gone,” he said.

“How is that possible? Barry asked.

“We don’t really know why. All we can do is be grateful this is happening. I know this is a shock to hear when you’ve already had to accept your death. Take some time to process this,” the doctor finished at last.

Barry was at a loss for words. He accepted the fact that he was going to die and now he was told that there is a good chance he would live. He stepped outside of the clinic building and felt a cool breeze wrap around him. It made him shiver slightly, but it made him feel comfortable at the same time. Looks like Autumn is right around the corner, he thought while smiling.


Five years have now passed since Barry got the good news. It seemed like the doctor was right about his cancer after all. Barry was 4 years free of it and was allowed to make his mark on the world once again. The chilling Autumn wind rustled his hair and blew the leaves around him far into the distance. He didn’t mind the colder weather though. It was crisp and easy to breathe which was great for taking walks.

He had completed a few laps but it was called short when his wife, Emma, called him and asked him to come home for a surprise. I wonder what it’s about? She’s always up to something exciting, he thought. Regardless of what he could think of, he was excited too. His wife brought so much fun into his life and he didn’t mind what she had planned. He quickened his pace and headed towards their apartment a few blocks away.

He knew he had reached his destination when he saw the large housing complex. Like always, he went inside and headed up some stairs. He went up three flights and quickly searched for their door number. When he found it he took his key from out of his pocket and unlocked the door. He took a gulp before turning the knob.

Barry expected to see a great spectacle with decorations set up or something. Instead, the apartment looked the same way as it always had. He closed and locked the door behind him. He noticed his wife sitting on the couch and watching TV. When she noticed him, she became visibly excited and Turned the TV off. Barry took his shoes and coat off before going over to her.

“Come sit down next to me!” she said with eagerness.

“What is it this time? What’s the surprise?” he asked as he sat down.

Without any warning, his wife took his hand and placed it on her stomach.

“What? What are you doing?” he asked with confusion.

“Think about it for a second you dummy!” she said as if the answer was obvious.

Barry pondered this for a little while. Why did she place my hand on her stomach? What does that mean? Wait a minute!?

“Are you Pre-!”

“Yup!” she replied without letting him finish. “You’re going to be a father!”

This was quite a shock to Barry. Not because he didn’t want to be a father. Because he never expected to live long enough to experience being a parent. He quickly collected himself and continued talking with his wife.

“I’m going to do my best!” he said to her.

“It goes without saying!” she responded.

They smiled at each other and a warm feeling comfortably snuggled both of them.


Ten years have passed ever since Barry learned he was going to be a father. His wife, Emma, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy called Danny. That boy used to be so small as if the wind would blow him away if he wasn’t protected. Not so little anymore, the nine-year-old boy stared up at his father who was lost in thought.

“Hello? Earth to Dad,” Danny said while waving his hand.

Barry was soon brought back to reality as his son tried to get his attention.

“Oh, What’s up?” Barry asked.

“What do you mean?” You said you were going to help me build a snow shelter,” Danny responded.

“Oh yeah, that’s right. Go gather more snow and pack it together,” Barry said.

As soon as he said this, Danny started gathering snow at a faster pace. Barry never knew where he got all that energy from. This winter was colder than the last and it sucked out all of his energy.

A light snow was falling from the white sky and the flakes made a shimmering sparkle as if they were diamonds. Trees were covered in thick blankets of snow that weighed their branches down. Barry and Danny were in the backyard of their house. The area didn’t have many obstacles in the way of gardens or anything else which made it the perfect place for a kid to go wild in the middle of winter. Barry was gathering snow as well. Emma was out on some errands so it was his duty to entertain Danny. Not that he minded it at all, Danny just has too much energy.

Barry and Danny continued to accumulate a massive snow mountain. They stopped for some snacks and hot chocolate before continuing to work. The snow mountain wasn’t the end of the journey because they would now need to dig it out. Armed with two red shovels, both of them excavated their way to a new home. It took a lot of hard work, mainly from Barry, but their new shelter was now complete.

“Let me go in first to see if everything is stable,” Barry told Danny.

With a nod of approval from his son, Barry crawled through the opening and found himself in a spacious and cool cave. Luckily they made the inner wall as solid as possible and not any of it was at risk of caving in. Just to be sure though, he pushed at it to see if everything was good. He did this across almost every square inch of the inside before he was satisfied enough.

“Okay, everything looks good! You can come in now!” Barry called out to his son.

The sound of rustling could be heard coming from the opening and suddenly a small boy crawled through.

“Wow! It’s so cool in here!” Danny said with joy.

“Sure is, I’m shivering so much!” Barry said with a big smile.

“Ugh, that’s not what I meant, Dad,” Danny said while rolling his eyes. 

Barry spat out a quick laugh at his annoyed son and the two of them laid down while looking up. The light spilled in from the outside and danced across the white ceiling. They were laying there for thirty minutes or so. Just when they were about to leave, the wind picked up. It sounded like it was lashing at the shelter with a dangerous whip.

“Whew! Guess we’ll have to stay put for a little longer! Wouldn’t want to leave our only shelter in the middle of a “storm” right!?” Barry said to his son with a wink.

Danny took a few seconds to process what his father was trying to say before responding.

“Right!” he said with a smile.

The two of them spent some more time in their shelter. Barry talked about all sorts of things a nine-year-old would be interested in and it seemed like he was doing all right. At the very least he was tolerable to his son from the looks of it. Regardless, the shelter proved to be a cozy place to pass the time. It kept them safe from the wind and made sure they wouldn’t freeze.

Eventually, the wind died down and the two of them crawled out. They were so used to the dark lighting of the shelter that the white color of winter nearly blinded them. It took a few moments before things came into focus. Barry looked down at his son and spoke.

“Did you have a fun time today?”

With that question in mind, the little boy responded almost immediately.

“That was awesome!” he said with a full grin.

Barry took one look at that smile and he knew he did well today. He put his hand on Danny’s shoulder and the two of them headed back towards the house.


Twenty years have now passed since Barry built that snow shelter with Danny. His son was not little at all anymore and was completely grown up. The struggle of college was achieved by him and he even got married! Barry was beyond proud of his son and seeing him grow made him smile. To make things even better, Barry looked down at the cozy cradle in the middle of the room. He put his hand in there and a tiny hand grabbed onto his pinkie finger. That small hand belonged to his new-born granddaughter, Chloe.

Barry was currently in his son’s house. Winter had passed and spring was right on their doorstep. Light was peering in from the open window. It swayed and swished across the white walls of the nursery room and Chloe giggled while watching it. His legs soon got tired from standing and he bent his legs to sit down. There was an audible pop and Barry’s legs felt a bit stiff. I’m getting old, he thought.

Barry didn’t let that stop him though. He was still quite active and was doing numerous things around the house with his wife, Emma. He was still working because he loved moving around at much as he could. The idea of retiring and settling down didn’t really seem like the best option but Barry wanted to see his granddaughter grow up. He knew he would have to be more careful with his health.

As if the world could hear his thoughts, a sweet and mellow wind blew in from the window and it seemed to ease his mind. He still had those tough thoughts, but they were pushed aside in the moment. Regardless of what was to come, he wasn’t ready to kick the bucket yet. I’m going to live as long as I can! he thought at last. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the sound of keyings unlocking the front door. A voice called out soon after and Barry identified it as Danny’s

“Hey Dad, I’m home,” he said.

“We’re over here,” Barry responded.

The sound of footsteps could be heard and a man in his late twenties entered the room. He changed a little bit but he still looked like that little boy bustling with energy.

“Thanks for looking after her,” Danny said.

“Call me to watch her anytime,” Barry said with a smile.

The calming wind was still blowing in from the window. Danny was about to close it when Barry stopped him.

“Wait, Chloe likes the breeze,” he said.

“Really?” Danny asked.

‘Yep! Just look at her,” Barry said while pointing towards the cradle.

The two of them peered into the cradle and saw Chloe sleeping happily. She seemed to not have a worry in the world, which was what Barry and Danny planned on doing.


Twenty more years have passed since meeting his granddaughter for the first time. Chloe grew up strong and healthy just like how Barry wanted her to. She was struggling to get through college, but her tenacity let Barry know she would push through.

Barry took the deepest breath his old lungs would allow. However, the oxygen mask on his face wouldn’t allow for the smell of summer to get through. That was only a small gripe because he and his family were going to his favorite spot in the summer. That spot was the river bank where he encountered that strange being. He wasn’t sure if whatever he encountered back then was real but he couldn’t deny that maybe it was the reason he was alive today.

The squeaking of his wheelchair wheels could be heard and it told him he had spent a long time in it. Barry knew they were at his favorite place when the wheelchair stopped and he saw the stars reflecting off of the rushing river. I wish Emma was here, he thought. She had passed away two years prior. It was tough living without her, but he knew he would be joining her soon.

This trip to the river wasn’t just like the other yearly trips he made here. No, he knew his time was coming to an end. Barry was sure that his family knew he didn’t have much time left so they organized this journey. He wasn’t mad at them for not telling him the truth about coming here. In fact, he loved them for it. If he was going to go then he wanted to see his favorite people and his favorite spot.

“Ok, we’re here Dad,” Danny said as he stopped pushing the wheelchair.

Barry tried to respond but it just came out as a grumble. He looked at the sky full of stars and saw more of them in the water. He wanted to get closer but knew that wheeling over on the river bank would make him roll in. That didn’t bother him though, he was content to look from the road.

It seemed like the stars were getting less bright every year he came here. He was once amazed at their beauty and how they glowed so vibrantly. As he thought about this, a cool breeze dashed across the river and swept across Barry. It once again wrapped him in a comfortable blanket that hugged him. He knew why the sky was so dim now.  Everything and everyone around me is so bright that it’s outshining even the stars! he thought at last.

July 20, 2020 22:50

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Elle Clark
13:39 Jul 26, 2020

What a sweet story! I really like the way we got to see Barry’s life through the time jumps and I thought that the scene in the snow shelter was particularly lovely. There were a couple of mistakes with tenses and I think at the twenty year flash forward, the son was in his late twenties so just be careful with your time. I really enjoyed reading this - thank you for sharing!


Brandon Johnson
19:10 Jul 26, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! I'll work harder on future stories.


Elle Clark
19:27 Jul 26, 2020

I mean, I thought the work you put in here worked out! I was just trying to be helpful - I really enjoyed reading it!


Brandon Johnson
19:57 Jul 26, 2020

No worries here. I appreciate any criticism that will allow me to craft even better stories. I'm really glad you enjoyed it!


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06:59 Jul 30, 2020

Beautiful story. I like the wind threading its way through it all. Keep going!


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Cal Grant Smith
22:25 Jul 29, 2020

I loved how you moved through the passage of time.


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