I am supposed to write about this year. Supposedly, putting things into words will help my mind wrap around them better. I cannot bring myself to do it, not yet. The words will not come.
Right now, the room is dark and demands a reckoning of all it has seen. Weeks of productivity, months of creative distractions, a year of trying to reconcile what I knew with what I have learned.
I know I should write about the year. Put it into words—blood and ink and truth on the page—and hope the process heals me.
Instead, I’ll write a story.
There once was a woman who hated the stars.
She knew they whispered when she passed by. They remembered everything, and kept a ledger of her misdeeds somewhere in the constellations, or the spaces between. She knew they despised her as much as she did them.
She hid from their taunts for a very long time, hiding in the shelter of the ignorant day. She lingered in the margins of fading sunlight, holding fast to the dusk. But she could not avoid the stars forever. When night came, inevitable as death, she covered her ears to blot out their shimmering voices.
She watched as they danced around the moon and she prayed for the sunrise.
One night, she grew tired of the stars and decided take matters into her own hands. She found a crystal glass, strode into the inky sky, and captured the moon. The woman should have left right then and spirited the moon away to some distant galaxy. But she lingered in the darkness where the moon had been, marveling at the way its light refracted inside the glass.
The stars did not take her thievery well. They convened at once and passed judgement from their heavens while she stood unaware, her face full of light.
The stars sentenced her to a year imprisoned on a comet, in a dark room with a single open window. They took the moon from the glass and set it once more in the sky, a bit dimmer than before. For some of its light was lost, caught in the crystal glass.
In an act of distant mercy, the stars allowed the woman to keep the glass when they placed her in the lightless cell.
For the first two months on the comet, the woman raged at the stars. She flung stardust and shards of ice into space. She screamed into the void to fill it with something. She clung to the crystal glass and its thin remnants of moonlight, the beams shining red through her fingers like stained glass.
The next three months passed in a blur. She wept. She slept. In the distance, the stars watched and waited.
The sixth and seventh month came and went almost unmarked. The room felt small and too large all at once. She worried she would lose her mind.
Starting in the eighth month, she began to trace stories in the stardust. Fantastical tales, somber memoirs, horror stories, exquisite poems she thought would be best read aloud, but she had no one to tell them to.
The stars read every story. They laughed. They cried. They fell in and out of love. They let the stories tug at them, weaving into their very existence, and they smiled at being made more whole.
By the eleventh month, the woman was out of stardust to write in and the moonlight in the crystal glass was nearly spent. She welcomed the darkness, when it came, with songs.
In final month of her imprisonment, the woman grew tired of darkness and singing. She thought of the moon with bitter tears and wondered why she had stolen it in the first place. She longed for light, any light. Even starlight.
When her year was up and the stars released her, they filled her crystal glass with more light than she could ever hope to use. They told her that, so long as she continued to tell them stories, she could traverse the entirety of space in peace.
She still does not trust the stars. Not completely. But she tells them stories and they give her light in return, which she stores in her glass for a dark day.
One day soon, she will outshine them all.
Here, at the end of a story and at heart of it all, are four walls and a door. More familiar by far than they were to me twelve months ago.
I still have not come to terms with the state of things.
A year. It is everything and it is nothing but really it’s something in between. I do not know yet if I have found more than I have lost, created more than I have destroyed.
I cannot reckon with an entire year.
I find a poem tucked away on a stardust page instead.
Tell the story
Pulled close from across the ages
Give us Knowing
In a silver cup
So we can sate our thirst
And I try
But I can write between the lines
No better than you can read them out of order
Every word in its place
Stars in their heavens
And empty spaces between
It is dark there, in those spaces
I have not been afraid of the dark for many years,
But I am afraid of yours—
Of what lurks in the deepness
Of your soul—
And that is why I try
Tell the story
I have said goodbye to friends without saying goodbye. I have closed a chapter of life without marking my page. I have lost things: light, sanity, breath. I have found them again, though not quite the same as before.
All in a single room. A wall with chipped paint by the light switch. A desk in varying states of chaos and order. An unmade bed. Silvery curtains that remind me of moonlight. My home, my fortress, my prison.
Day passing into day like waves. The world spinning on between the stars and me stuck in one place somewhere within it all. Time twisting on itself, stretching and contorting like light in a crystal glass.
A year has come and gone, and changed everything with its coming and going. I could not say if the change is for the better.
I do not want to decide, to weigh things in my balances and pass judgment on an entire year. I possess neither the wisdom nor the authority.
I can only hope to collect light enough to see.