“Where were you yesterday? I didn’t see you Zeke,” I put on a fake pout and he laughs. The moonlight shines off his ebony hair and it almost look like he has a halo.
“I had business to attend to,” he winks at me with his piercing amber eyes from across the street that separates our homes. I sigh. “What wrong my little one?” he asks.
“I wish I could go with you when you travel.”
“My dear little Juno. One day you shall. Until then you must stay on your gabled roof and I must stay here.”
“I know, I know. You have only told me a million times. My name is Celeste, still.” He laughs once more. The dark skin around his eyes crinkle and is jet black hair waves. I do not know why he insists on calling me Juno, he has called me it since the day we met.
“I know Juno, I know.” He smiles at me and I turn from him as I hear my mother’s old pickup rattling along in the distance.
I see my mother’s truck turn the corner of the street as clouds fade over the moon. As she pulls into the driveway, she is glaring up at me from inside the car. Slamming the door as she gets out, she yells at me, “What are you doing?! I have told you a million times, you are going to get hurt. Get back inside your bedroom. Por el amor de dios.” I sigh and leap nimbly across the roof back to my bedroom window.
I have only just slipped inside when my mother throws open the door. “A ver mija. I have told you many times before not to climb on the roof! Also you said that you would go to bed at a reasonable time tonight. Why are you still up? You are always up too late, you never sleep! And on top of all that, if you must be up on the roof, why diablos do you insist on talking to yourself up there? You know it looks bad and we have neighbors.”
She must really be annoyed; she only slips into her native tongue of Spanish when she is emotional. I am not too worried though, she is all bark, no bite. Still, I have never told her about Zeke.
I cherish my moments with him, and no matter what, I don’t want my mother to take them away. He so refreshing, like the night air on a feverish body; like the moonlight after being trapped in the dark. I feel connected to him in a way I have never felt before. Like he understands who I am I a way I don’t. I feel that we are like souls.
“No jodes. You aren’t even listening to me,” my mother’s raised voice snaps me back to reality. Just then I hear the telltale creak of the second step down from the top of the dark wooden staircase.
“Citlali, what happened?” I thank the heavens as my aunt enters to save me.
“Your niece happened,” my mother bites back at her sister.
“What has Celeste done now?” I can see the small smile my aunt tries to smother as she asks.
“I come home, and I find her up on the rooftop, it’s past her bedtime and on top of that, she was muttering to herself again. It’s absolutely embarrassing!”
“Mamá, calm down,” I plead. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was stargazing.”
“Citlali she is just like you,” my aunt chides. “Can you blame her for wanting to gaze upon the small slice of heaven we are gifted each night?” I am not surprised that my aunt Estela took my side, after all she is an astrologer. My mother studied astronomy, the true science in her opinion. My mother studies the positions, motions, and properties of celestial bodies outside of Earth’s atmosphere whereas my aunt studies how these bodies affect people and events on Earth.
“Celeste, you ignore your madre and you keep stargazing. The heavens run in your veins, they run in all our veins. You are descended from Andromeda Fay the northern star; stardust runs in your blood,” my aunt has a look of reverence as she gazes of the window.
“This is all nonsense. You put such ideas into my daughter’s head, and she goes right back up to the roof!” my mother turns on her sister in a flash. “She is my daughter, and I put up with your whimsical ideas because I love you, but I will not let you influence my daughter.”
“Tell her the real reason why you hate my ideals, why you hate the ideals you once followed,” Estela seems to snap. “You lived by my beliefs, they were our beliefs, yet you abandoned them after he left you.” I see my mother flinch backwards.
“You have gone too far Estela. I will not tolerate this abuse. Leave.” My mother glares at her sister with an intensity I have never seen before. My aunt turns on her heel and stalks out of the room. Once more I hear the creak of the second step down. “Go to bed now,” my mother orders.
“Yes mamá,” I no longer even try to fight.
“Zeke,” I cannot contain my cry of delight when I see him. “It´s been four days, where have you been?”
“My little Juno, it is wonderful to see you again.” He leans forward from his perch on the sloped brown rooftop across from mine. “I have been traveling,” he says nonchalantly. “My employer requested my presence and he does not live anywhere nearby, let me tell you that.” I laugh as he rolls his eyes. Once more I have slipped out my bedroom window into the night, then again, it is normal for me. Even when I can’t see Zeke, I still come out here to see the stars each night.
“Hey Zeke, do ever think we could hang out? Like get a coffee or something?” I wait hopefully for his answer even though I already know what it will be.
“I’m sorry, you know I work during the day, plus I have my studies and then homework. The nighttime is really my only free time,” he says it sadly, and his shoulders slouch.
“Don’t worry Zeke,” it’s fine,” I say. “What are you studying?” I ask quickly, wanting to hide my disappointment by changing the subject.
“I am studying space,” he says.
“Really? What branch of science? Astronomy? Astrology? Cosmology? Planetary science?” I look down at the floor and go quiet. It isn’t like me to just blurt stuff out, I’m rather introverted but I just couldn’t help myself, he’s going to study space. I glance up and then back down again when I see him watching me.
“All of them.”
“What?” I ask incredulously.
“I am studying all the sciences related to space, or rather, the stars,” he says pensively.
“That’s impossible,” I say. “You can’t major in that many sciences.”
“Who said anything about majoring?” he asks mischievously. “I am studying under a mentor and it is he who is teaching me everything there is to know about space, about the planets, and above all, about the stars.”
“That must be hard, taking in so much knowledge at once,” I say. “But it sounds amazing, spending all day learning about the universe. Who is you mentor?”
“You don’t know him, his name is Steren,” he says. “And it’s now very late,” he comments with a tone that signals to me that the conversation is over. “You ought to be getting to bed little Juno, don’t you have school tomorrow?” He smiles at me and turns to leave. I sigh, but don’t say anything as I watch him go.
‘I’ll only stay out here a bit longer,’ I think to myself. ‘What’s the harm anyway?’ The stars look magnificent tonight. They look bigger and brighter than ever before. I watch in awe as a beautiful shooting stars races right over my head, slicing through the black of space and making the other stars look faded and old. It soars off into infinity, traveling wherever it wants, seeing the sights of the cosmos.
“What I wouldn’t give to be that star,” I whisper underneath my breath. I must have dosed off, for as I open my eyes, I can tell that I must be dreaming. There is no up or down, no left or right, there is only a vast space that somehow feels crowded, like it’s full. I’m floating, suspended in the darkness, like space but starless. However, it’s not like space. It’s warm, like I’m cocooned in velvet fabric.
I feel the fabric like matter surrounding me shift and a slit widens above my head. “Hello little Juno,” Zeke’s voice floats down from above me and I blink in pain as I see blinding lights outside the slit. “How are you holding up?”
“Zeke, what’s going on?” I ask astounded. I have never had a dream like this before, the feelings, the essence, it’s all so real. “It should be a dream, this isn’t really possible, but it doesn’t feel like it.”
“Ahh my little Juno, all will be made clear. We are almost to him,” he says cryptically.
“To who Zeke? Seriously, where are we?” I ask, starting to worry. Then when he doesn’t respond I notice it; we are moving. We are moving so fast, yet it seems like we are not, I still feel like I am floating, drifting in the air. Somehow, I just now we are moving, I can feel the resistance in my bones. He closes the slit at the top of wherever I am, and silence prevails. Time has no conception wherever we are; it is impossible to know if two hours or two days have passed when he finally speaks.
“We are here.” That’s all he says, but it’s good enough for me right now. Once more the slit at the top of my enclosure opens. “I’m sorry Juno for putting you there, but I needed to store you for the journey.” I feel myself float in the direction which I assume must be up. The weirdest sensation takes over me as I float; I feel as though I am stretching, growing. The slit widens and as my head rises above the dark cocoon, I see the bottom part of a t-shirt.
“Oh my god, was I in your pocket?” I half-heartedly yell at Zeke, because just the I am distracted.
It’s like nothing I have ever seen before, it’s astounding and impossible; but I know in my bones that it’s real. My breath catches in my chest as I stare out at what lies before me. An onyx black floor, smooth and gleaming lays beneath my feet and the light of a million stars reflect off it. Looking a bit further out I can see where the floor ends, just stops and an ocean of stars meet it. It’s like the circular stone slab rests at the center of the night sky, in the middle of the cosmos. I walk forward to the edge and I look down. I see galaxies spread out below me like a tie-dye of black, green, purple, blue, silver and gold filled with stars. It’s almost as if the galaxies overflowed because they rise to meet the edge of the stone and the arch above it like a ceiling. It’s as if the floor is making an empty pocket in the universe, like being in a fishbowl.
I catch glimpses of planets like studded gems in a tapestry woven with black silk and tiny shards of silver and gold. Even dust and rock debris manage to be magical as they trace circular and spiral patterns among the planets and stars. If this is a dream, I truly hope I never ends. Before I was living in a 2D world, simply looking up at the night sky and now my world has become 4D, I can sense everything. It’s as if I can feel the universe breathing, it’s alive, everything is alive. I can’t help the laughter that bubbles out of my chest and explodes from my mouth shattering the silence.
“What’s going on? Are you okay?” I can see the worry in Zeke’s eyes, but I don’t care. I can’t stop laughing. I feel like I am made of light, like I am floating and moving and piercing. In truth I have no idea what I am feeling, the are no earthly words that express this emotion, it is like nothing I have ever felt or even heard about. The universe flows through me, I can feel it as it passes through my skin and bones, as it traverses my very soul.
Time knows me not, for it no longer applies to me. I can understand everything that is happening at the same time. I one galaxy a star dies, in another a sun is born. I can interpret everything and anything at once. Five senses are no longer all I know, for I have a sixth one: soul.
“Please tell me you’re okay, not everyone can handle this. I need to take you back. Oh my god this was a mistake,” Zeke mutters to himself as he starts toward me, I suppose to put me back in his pocket.
“No,” I say it with such an intensity that he freezes in his tracks. “I have dreamed of this for many years,” I explain. “I won’t give this up just yet.”
“What do you mean you have dreamed of this?” I can see that he is shocked. “Do you know what’s going on?” he asks.
“In a way,” I answer with a small smile. “I don’t know how, but I know that somehow we are in the fourth dimension.”
“What is the fourth dimension to you,” I think that Zeke might believe I’ve gone mad, but then again, this whole thing is mad.
“The fourth dimension is time, it is the sixth sense, it is space. I’m sorry I can’t explain it better,” I say. “The are no human words that can truly make one comprehend it, you must experience it to understand it because it is everything at once. It is the sum of all the other dimensions.”
“Ah but Juno, you understand perfectly,” Zeke smiles at me. “You are ready.”
“Juno!” a being that I can only describe as foreign appears above us. “Oh, little one, my messenger tells me you are ready.” He dances down from the stars that arch above. Or at least that’s the word that best describes it. He makes walking motions with his legs, but he floats downward really. As he touches down on the floor of the little black bubble in space, I get my first real look at him.
He shines. I mean he literally radiates light. At first his skin was a shimmery gold, like looking at fire, yet as he descended it mellowed. Now a tranquil yellow light that emanates outward from him. He has silver hair; however, he is not old, no lines mar his smooth face and high cheekbones. His skin is now a bronze like color, and he is rather tall.
“Hello daughter.” Apparently, he is also rather insane.
“I’m sorry, what?” I ask bewildered.
“I suppose your aunt told you a little bit about your ancestors, she was always so proud of them,” he says as if that can explain the bombshell he just dropped on my life. “In any case surely she has told you of us before.”
“No, never,” I say. “What are you?"
“I am a star.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Pure shock rips through my body, yet as my mind clears it somehow makes perfect sense.
“Your friend Zeke is also a star. He is a shooting star, a messenger,” the man claiming to be my father says.
“Zeke?” I turn to him as my heart breaks and my soul quakes. He never told me, not once of something so major. I thought I knew him, I thought we were like souls and yet for years he kept this enormous secret. “You never told me,” I hate how my voice cracks on the told.
“I couldn’t,” he said.
“I forbade him for telling you, that is, until you were ready,” my father cuts in.
“Ready for what,” I ask.
“To take my place as the North Star of course,” he says as if it were obvious. “Many years ago, before you were born, I was a messenger like Zeke. I was my father’s shooting star and I visited Earth often. It was there that I met and fell in love with your mother. Sadly, my father passed away not too long after and I had to take over for him as the North Star.”
“As soon as Zeke became my messenger, I sent him to earth to check on your mother; it was then I discovered she was carrying my child. Zeke explained everything to your aunt and you mother. His explanation corroborated you aunt’s wild theories about star people and were dismissed by your mother. She gave you the human name Celeste, but your star name has always been Juno. Enough though, you are here because my fire is dimming, soon you shall take my place as blood heir and rightful queen of the heavens. That is if you wish to…”
“Yes,” I say, there is no hesitation on my part. There is only the assurance that this is what I was made for. The stars have aligned and it is time for me to ascend.