All I heard was the scratching of lead on paper, all I smelled was the faint sweetness of green tea, and all I saw was puffy clouds, strutting across the pink and red sky.
All I felt was an aching longing in my chest.
Sighing, I put my notebook and pencil down. It was useless to try to draw again. All my creativity left with her.
I tipped my head back, the nape of my neck pressing against the wood of the chair, my eyes greedily taking in the bland ceiling.
I sat for a while, just sitting, endless thoughts pummeling me everywhere until all I wanted was to get away.
It was useless, really, to even care. Just me and my thoughts, all day and all night. Every motion was in airplane mode, every word already pre-thought.
I wonder if things will ever go back to normal.
“Brandon,” a tight voice whispered behind me.
I didn’t turn, didn’t move an inch when I said, “Lydia.”
My voice sounded hollow, even to me.
My sister sighed, and walked around my chair, looking me square in the face. Her hair was golden in the sunset, her skin luminescent. Eyes burning with molten ore stared into mine, she scowled.
“Get up. Sulking all day is going to do nothing,” she said, placing her hands on her waist. She glared at me, and walked away, leaving me again with my own thoughts.
I sighed again, and stood, my legs barking in protest. From the waist down, I was so sore, karma for sitting in the chair for over an hour, just making mindless doodles, only to cross them out in fury.
I was about to turn when a glint of gold caught my eye. Shoved in the corner of the balcony sat a golden telescope, an heirloom I haven’t touched in months.
Every night or so, Vivianne and I would sneak here together, and just looked at the twinkling stars spread on the sky like a lunar blanket, sometimes through the telescope. Ever since she left, I haven’t touched it. Ever since then, I never bothered to look at the stars.
But now, something snagged at that pit in my stomach. Maybe it was the urge to do something, anything, that wasn’t just a mindless motion. To do something of purpose.
I went over to the telescope and stroked its surface, sleek and slippery, the metal gliding beneath my fingers.
I wanted to look into it, so bad, but when I looked at the sky, it was already a deep blue, and I saw stars.
Millions of them, all clustered together like a universal dance, glowing like lightbulbs suspended in mid-air. Vague constellations nagged at me, but I ignored them, entranced by the sky’s eternal beauty.
And when I thought that, though she was now so far away, Vivianne was seeing the same night sky, and would be captivated by its beauty like me, I smiled.
“I give up,” I announced, throwing my hands up as I walked away from the table, pieces of a puzzle scattered on it, very few molded together.
Lexi studied it again as I gazed at the red and pink sunset, blended with buttery yellow and soft blue as the sun gently submerged into the horizon, the moon rising aside it.
“Well, we can try tomorrow, I guess,” Lexi sighed, standing beside me.
I saw her head angle towards me, and I glanced at her. At the dimming sunset and the night brightening, her eyes were a mix of colors, all swirling together, co-existing. It was hard to maintain eye contact.
“It was your anniversary today,” she said softly, glancing at her hands as she spoke, as if afraid of my reaction.
But I just stared at her, and when she rose her head, she blurted, “Are you not going to call him?”
I thought for a moment. I left Brandon because I wanted to go to college, but he, already having a job, had no reason to come to California with me.
“I will always be connected to you,” he murmured into my hair as he held me, the door to the uber open and the trunk full.
I nodded against his chest, tears freeing from my eyes and soaking his shirt. I met him in third grade. We’d been best friends until sophomore year, when he got the guts to ask me out at my birthday.
My present for you, he always teased.
He pulled away to survey my face and flashed me a crooked smile. “College isn’t forever. We’ll still call and text, just… in another state.” Some light dimmed in his eyes at that, even though he continued smiling, as much for him as for me.
I tried to smile, and his fingers brushed away my tears.
He softly kissed me, and then ushered me into the car. When I was in, with my hands clenched on the seat, he said through the window,
“I love you.”
Then the car sputtered to life, and when I glanced back with eyes lined with silver, I saw his face crumple into devastation.
I started, and saw Lexi’s hand on mine, her face grim, yet understanding.
“I’ll be inside if you need me,” she said, flashing me a reassuring smile as she headed inside.
I nodded, then stared at my hands. The hands that Brandon held as he kissed me under the willow tree.
I knew it was no use, thinking about him every step I took. We had visited each other once, tears and words stumbling into each other. He had to leave the next day, for some work thing.
I always marveled that he got a job so fast. So smart, you could see it in his eyes. Quick and light on his feet, driven and hard-working.
My mind in a whirlpool, I glanced at the sky. And my breath went away.
The top of the sky was still pink and red and purple, but the horizon…
The deepest blue, etched around the corners and the middle with tiny, white dots.
So many, all so close through human eyes, but millions of miles apart in space. Twinkling and winking at me.
The night slowly replaced the pink with black, dragging along stars in its wake. Slowly, slowly, until the entire sky was full of night.
But it was the horizon I looked at, the center point, and I could feel Brandon’s hand on mine, squeezing gently.
As tears slipped down my face, as the mist-laced wind swept them away, I knew that somewhere, far away, Brandon was looking up too.
And when I saw him again, I would kiss him under the eternal stars.