A loud thunking woke her up at four in the morning, but she stepped out of bed calmly, as though she was awoken by the same rude noise every morning. It was loud and hollow and wooden and hurt her ears.
That was true.
She walked to the edge of the bedroom and stood at the open window, a quiet breeze whipping sea salt peppered hair up and around her face. There was tea sitting across from her rumpled sheet bed, breathing in lavender had always helped her sleep.
That was true.
There was a thin man rolling in piles of money in the apartment beneath hers, and she had been spying on him, his wife, and their three children for seven years now. The oldest child was Bougee, the second child was Nasty, and the baby was Ratchet. They had been born to him and he named them after one of his favorite songs, a particular song that came out in the old year 2020. One of the few things, the thin rich man thought often to himself, that was good about that year.
These things were also true.
Now the thunking noise... that came from the apartment next to hers; the home of a carpenter named Jozi and his wife, a thin, young girl named Maria. They didn’t have a baby, but sometimes Maria talked to herself, saying things to an angel that the lady at the balcony didn’t believe was there. The carpenter Jozi whispered too, but the things he made with his hands and wood were loud. Jozi made wooden horses, wooden cribs, wooden maracas and wooden bears, all for a baby that lived only in Maria's imagination.
Of course this was true as well.
The woman at the balcony sat on a stone bench and watched the calm waves of the early ocean lapping against the sand, still soft and unbeaten by the hot afternoon sun. The woman at the balcony laid cool hands against the stone of her bench and wished upon a falling star. She closed her eyes and tucked her hands under her legs and wished and wished and wished on that star but…
That wasn’t true.
What she did was wish, but she wished on not a falling star, but an exploding one.
It was the sun.
It was the sun, still barely there in the morning glow of the setting moon, bursting out into five billion individual rays of brilliant light. The woman on the balcony wished on a dying giant, and she wished for her life to start over as the thing that warmed the very earth was vanishing. She wished desperately to be back with the person who had sent her to this strange land, a land so loud and bustling with people, with water, with life crammed in every nook and cranny as far as she could see. But that person who she had followed here was gone. They were gone and she was stuck here in a place filled with people who didn’t look like her or speak her language. All she had left was the memories of someone she thought she loved enough to leave life behind for. But now her bones ached from being too close to the sea and she found herself drinking lavender tea more and more; yet sleeping less and less. Even in her dreams, the ocean separated her from her family.
That was true.
So as the sun fell into the ocean, and the woman on the balcony wept for a person who she had only met once fleetingly at the back of a gas station, Jozi and Maria the next door neighbors ascended into the sky on a ladder spun from cloud exhaust and the rich man; that skinny little rich man, helped his children onto a spaceship. Yes, Bougee, Nasty, and Ratchet were all safe. They could eat choochoo weasel muffins and whack tennis balls to their hearts delight up there in space. Yes, the rich man and his wife were safe. Jozi, Maria, their angels and their imaginary baby were good to go. But the woman on the balcony felt she had no one and nowhere to go.
Was this true?
She crawled backwards down the trellis of her balcony and ran towards the beach, her bare soles smack smack cracking against the warming sand. She ran and ran until she stood at the shore of the now orange, yellow, red ocean, beaming with a sphere of fire, burning up with the heat of five billion light rays. And that woman, the neighbor of rich men and carpenters, of three ill named children and their mother and a thin, young wife who talked to angels, walked into the water for the first time.
She had always wanted to be a star.
If she couldn’t be, she might as well meet one.
This was true.
As the woman walked further into the ocean, she felt her bones alight. She felt her sea salt peppered hair turn the color of citrus fruits, and camping lights, and baby chickens. She let her bare feet sift between the miles of light that erupted from the fallen sun; she dared to look at the water, and in it saw her reflection. She was not the woman at the balcony.
She was ashes.
She was flying.
She was a friend of the sun,
Who was dying.
She was a bird,
She had new wings,
She heard new songs
And sang new things.
Lifted from the balcony
And joined to the sun
The woman who stood watching
Had a new life, begun.
She didn’t die
Nor was she killed
But in the sun
Her heart was filled.
Phoenix on the porch, now streaking through the sky
Woman on the balcony, clouds passing by.
The neighbors watched
Her as she flew
Freedom written across the sky so blue
For they did love the sun
But the moon was pretty too
And now that night had fallen
Upon the world
The universe wept
For the story uncurled.