There are millions of stars out there. Taking one look into the midwest sky at night goes to show that it’s true. There are some that are more special than others, ones that have more value. Some stars are more beautiful to the eye. These stars shine more brightly. It is a similar cycle for human beings as well.
For Eleanor Barlow, the shine was dull. She wasn’t special in any way. In fact, she was completely average in every way. She didn’t have the blue orbs that seemed to grasp everyone’s attention. She didn’t have the luscious, wavy hair that everyone coveted. Her work was the only thing she found to be special about herself.
Writing had been her passion since she was in fourth grade. She was the one who wrote the thank-you letter to the company the school had gone to for the field trip back then. It was she who got the speech at graduation. But, it was also she who would go home to cry herself to sleep at night.
It wasn’t as if she had suffered some irreversible trauma.
She just simply felt unimportant in every way.
She could laugh and play it off all day until she got back to her apartment. There was no escape from the loneliness there. The whole dark space seemed to engulf her. It took everything. The passion for writing was replaced with exhaustion and grief. The buoyant and happy personality was replaced with anger and resentment. All of which felt like it was her fault.
After all, who else was there to blame?
Each day came and went. Nothing special to be noted about any day, it was simple monotonous, and tedious tasks that she called her life.
Or so it was, until December 31.
New Year's Eve, is the holiday for getting drunk and kissing strangers. Or so it would be if Eleanor lived in New York or any other big city.
Unfortunately for her, she lived in a small town in the heart of the United States. The town knew that they had no competition for the iconic ball drop in New York, but they had decided to make a show of their precious town anyway.
The whole town had come together to decorate the main streets. They put up star-shaped lights to hang from the light posts. Silver and gold streamers lined every business window. No one objected to any of these holiday festivities. The town had become Whoville without the Grinch. When the thirty-first had come, the town was prepared.
The flyers had been sent out, and the businesses had been notified.
All that was left to do was celebrate!
Eleanor had joy she hadn’t really felt in a long time. This celebration would be the first time she would be legally drinking. Margaritas had been eyeing her down in every restaurant. It was finally time to have a reason to drink some champagne and pretend she was someone special.
The dress she had bought for the occasion was a short gold gown. It wasn’t a simple number. It had curve-hugging fabric, that accentuated every desirable little crevice that could be shown off. The gold hue of the dress itself was something to admire. The sequins dripping down the bottom of the short gown, it was as if the dress was champagne itself, and was dripping down the legs of Eleanor. It was a dress meant to capture the hearts and hard-ons of anyone daring to take a peek. It was meant to make the owner feel special.
Luckily for Eleanor, the papers she had written for her classmates had paid off, as well as some funding from back home. The dress had become hers, a one-of-a-kind item, all for the price of everything in her savings.
Walking down into the plaza of the downtown streets, all eyes were on Eleanor. It was a feeling that made her feel like she might vomit at any moment. She prayed to every god there was that she wouldn’t fall in those heels.
Slowly, she made her way to the line of the booth selling alcohol. The person in front of her had their back inches away from her face. She could smell the Burberry London scent emanating from the jacket. She leaned closer and instantly regretted it. Her heels sent her straight into the back of the person in front of her. She pushed her hands out, hopelessly wishing to stop herself from completely falling. In her attempt, she pushed the innocent person in front of her into the ground completely, with her frame being the force lying on top of them.
“What the hell?” The person beneath her calmly mumbled.
Eleanor quickly composed herself, rising from the man and shifting her gown back down into place, “I’m so sorry. Really, I- I don’t know what happened. One minute I was here-”
The man, rising to face her simply smiled, cutting off her sentence. ‘
“Why’re you smiling?” She questioned.
The man shook his head and extended a hand out to Eleanor. “I’m Avery, the rug you can step on anytime.”
She took his hand, and they shook in a silent agreement to forget the embarrassing moment. People around, however, would take a little bit more time to forget. Their eyes and fingers still locked on to the two as they continued to speak.
“Let me buy you a drink?” Avery cautiously asked to ensure he wasn’t forcing her into drinking with him. A gentlemanly move.
It paid off, as a smile crept onto Eleanor’s lips, “Yes, I’d like that.”
The two spent hours together. They shared a couple of drinks together before the conversation took over their interest.
“You must get a ton of compliments from your friends,” Avery commented, referring back to her champagne drip dress.
Eleanor shrugged, awkwardly laughing, “Nah, I tend to keep to myself, you know? I’m the invisible type, usually.”
Avery laughed in return, “No way, you’re too beautiful to keep to yourself. And I know there is no way you’re invisible. To anybody.”
Eleanor sat silent for a while, trying to take his compliment. Her whole body was rejecting it, everything in her being was telling her it wasn’t true.
“It’s feeling kind of cramped in here, could we take a walk?” Eleanor hesitantly asked.
For the moment, she truly felt special, and nothing else mattered but that fact.
They walked a distance away. Far enough that no one could really see them, let alone hear them.
Avery walked a bit further, towards the bridge ledge, a curve that would eventually lead to the main street. The whole block had been blocked off, and this area had been a place that no one had come to yet that night. As he leaned his core over the bridge, Eleanor came closer to him. She began to sit on the ledge next to him, trying her best to be seductive.
It seemed to work, as Avery came closer to her, positioning himself between her legs. She placed her arms on his shoulders and leaned closer to him, smiling her biggest, cheesiest smile.
“You look so beautiful in the moonlight,” he whispered to her.
“It’s almost midnight, you know,” she responded staring at his lips, then back at his deep, dark eyes. She had been waiting for a kiss all night long, and she was fully prepared for one.
He slid his hands down to her ankles, then back up again, before repeating the pattern for a final time. When his hands finally rested themselves back onto her ankles, he shoved.
Eleanor fell backward, and with a thud, her body, and the fireworks cracking noises, it seemed to be a symphony to Avery’s ears.
Avery hurriedly rushed down to Eleanor’s side. There was no water under the bridge currently, and she was gasping for breath, blood beginning to pool out of her mouth.
Again, Avery said, “You look so beautiful in the moonlight.”
Then, as the ball dropped, and the fireworks came to an end, Avery leaned in close to Eleanor. He pointed up at the fireworks and whispered about how beautiful she, as well as the fireworks, had been that night. As a final goodbye, Avery held Eleanor’s limp body close to him and gave her that New Year’s kiss she had been dying for.