The night was fresh, the air was pure, and from afar, the stars were looking at us. The sound of the waves crashing the rocks could be heard from the cliff, it was soothing, and as we looked back at the stars our fingers intertwined a little.
I turned my head and looked at him. Sitting on the top of a cliff looking at the stars was something that I would usually find boring, I’m not much of a romantic person. But maybe, I just needed to find the right person for this scene, and that person, for me, at that time, was Mark.
He turned his head towards me, our eyes met and locked onto each other. A wide smile appeared on his face making his freckles bounce, due to the starlight his skin that was normally pale looked bright and a hint of sparkles crossed his dark hair.
As the red shade of an emotion was gathering in my cheeks, I looked down, embarrassed and aware that that same emotion was filling my tummy. I raised my head again. He took my hand in his and leaned towards me planting a light kiss at the corner of my mouth with his eyes closed. I closed my eyes as well, enjoying the moment and feeling a warmness that filled my body.
He pulled away a little, his eyes still fixed on mine and moved his lips as if saying ‘I love you Liv’. Those words, that were not even said, hit me hard, the emotion in my cheeks and tummy went wild and a pounding in my chest that I didn’t notice before became intense.
By lifting my head an inch, I placed my lips on his and closed my eyes. The pounding in my chest was aching but pleasant. He was somehow surprised by my sudden boldness but welcomed the kiss gladly, caressing my cheek with his free hand. That night, a 16-year-old-me had her first kiss, with her first love, and the stars were looking at her.
‘Hey, hey waitress’ said a flustered middle-aged man with glasses sitting by the counter ‘Can I have my coffee now?’. I snapped; from a little TV hanging two feet from the counter the news was showing a special report about a group of astronauts that were scheduled to be back on Earth tonight. I was not fond of astronomy and engineering was not one of my top topics, but the name of one of the astronauts caught my attention, Mark Campbell. The name distracted me enough to bring back memories from the past and as a bonus annoy one of the customers. ‘Right on Sir’ I said.
In this town, located in God knows where, The Sweet Martha was the local’s favorite dinner, opened decades ago by a local that only loved one thing more than the food his wife cooked, and it was Martha herself, his wife. The dinner was inherited by their daughter Bertha and then by her daughter Felicia, hanging in the walls of the business were portraits of the three generations of owners. I always liked the first portrait, the one where the first owners were, a short and very skinny man, his arm being hugged by a tall beefy woman and a sweet smile crossing both of their faces. They sure looked happy.
The day was busy, I had to walk from here to there. French toasts and coffee to table five, two omelets, one vegetarian, the other with bacon to table seven, a cheeseburger without pickles, little sauce and a dietetic soda, to the counter spot one, orders just went on and on. By 6 p.m. the dinner was calm, and my shift was about to end, one hour more.
‘Hey honey, heard form Britney that you applied for that editor’s assistant job at the local magazine. How did it go?’ said Felicia walking in my direction. Felicia, a big and strong woman in her forties, current owner of The Sweet Martha and my boss, had a heart of gold and always threated her waitresses as daughters.
‘I didn’t get the job’ those words feeling heavier and heavier as they came out of my mouth.
‘Oh baby, I’m so sorry to hear that, I know you were very excited to work at the local magazine’ the sadness in Felicia’s face was genuine, she knew how strong this blow was to me as it was not the first time that I was rejected.
It’s not that I was excited to work in the local magazine, the first places that I applied for were all out of town, it’s just that this was my chance to, at least, work in something that I wanted. However, in addition to not being able to leave town, getting the job I wanted was far from being true.
The next hour went by quickly, before I knew it, it was time to go home.
The road was silent, not any different from the usual. In this town people were old, they went to sleep early to get up just as early, take some breakfast at The Sweet Martha, do the same thing they do everyday at work and finally get home and look at the TV. Nothing worth telling happened here.
A shrill screech snapped me out of my thoughts, the engine stopped, and my car stood there in the darkness being its two headlights the only light source I had. ‘This can’t be happening right now’ I whispered while turning the keys into the ignition and pressing the accelerator pedal. The engine roared, but it was weak and feeble, not the roar I expected.
After trying a few more times I gave up, the damn car was certainly broken again. I took my phone out and called Mr. Davis, he was the only mechanic in town and also the only person that could pick up my car with his tow truck.
‘Don´t you worry girl. I’ll be there as soon as I can, though, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for me for about an hour, I’m far from where you are’ said Mr. Davis, his voice sounded as cheerful as usual. ‘It’s fine Mr. Davis, thank you, see you in an hour’.
With my cellphone in my pocket, and nothing better to do, my mind started wandering until the thought of Mark appeared. The guy that took me to see the stars, willingly, for the first time, the one that made laugh with his nerdy jokes, made me dream bigger, and the guy that left town and me to fulfill his dream.
An astronaut, how glad I was of him, even a little jealous. I never hold a grudge against him for leaving, dreams exist to chase after them and people that can catch them deserve admiration. In contrast, I was still stuck here, a job that only paid enough to live in a shitty apartment and everyday getting further away from my dreams as ‘Thank you for your interest’ emails arrived in my inbox. On top of that, now I had to use the money that I saved to get out of here to fix my old car. At least there was still a place where my application hadn't been answered, it could be a good sign, right?
The tears started to pile up on my eyes, and I couldn’t hold it anymore. All the anxiety, sadness and even nostalgia came out through my eyes as my forehead rested on top of the steering wheel. Having spend a few minutes feeling sorry for me, I looked at the foliage, as my eyes got used to the dark, I recognized a narrow path almost invisible in the dark.
I got off my car to follow the path, it had a bunch of leaves and some tree roots, but it was easy to walk by. When I came out of the foliage a starry sky above a cliff welcomed me, the night was fresh, the air was pure and the sound of the waves crashing the rocks was soothing. The memory of a first kiss made me smile, teenagers love is dumb, but is just as dumb as beautiful.
I sat in the grass and looked up at the sky. How small must be my problems in comparison to other people that don’t give up easily. The world is vast, full of opportunities, dreams to chase and people ready to chase them, I just have to become one of them.
My phone rang, the screen showed a notification, another ‘Thanks for your interest’ email. I put my phone back in my pocket, there was always a tomorrow to spam my resume into possible employers. My phone rang again, this time was a call, maybe Mr. Davis wondering where I was. I looked at the name on the screen, my heart raced, emotions of the past filled my tummy, and allowing myself a few seconds of panic I answered. That night 24-year-old-me was rejected of all the editorials she applied to, her car was broken, and the stars were looking at her.