The Stars Shone Just for Me

Last night I saw a fox and an owl meet by the plum tree stump at the bottom of the garden. One above, and one below, they sat and looked, each at the other. The moon was almost full, the stars were more than merely points of ancient light; strewn in skeins, in nets of glittering dust, they drifted on the cloudless tides of night. Until I saw the fox and owl, I could have sworn the stars shone just for me.

Nights like that, the cosmic dust grits my bones, rimes my eyes, and my head effervesces with dancing light. The pink tablets make me sleep, but nights like that I don’t take them. Nights like that tingle with the possibility of magic, and I don’t want to miss it. I need the night change, into something rich and strange. I need the magic. My magic. You took mine with you. I wonder what you did with it, where you left it, after you abandoned me.

I wish you’d bring it back. I can’t find the map for where I’ve gone. Nights like that, I need to look at the stars.

But there was something about the fox and the owl, the way they looked at each other. Something more. Something unnatural. And yet, so very natural too, the recognition between them. They belonged to each other.

The fox was a slender silhouette, his tail tip trailing moon dust as he moved. The owl was a ghost of silver and white, the clock round of her face with huge eyes that opened lightless in the starlight. And there they sat, at the bottom of my garden, looking at each other like lost lovers. Or prey. Devouring looks.

I pushed the window wider, and night poured into my room. The dark smelled sharp  and clear, of damp earth, and grass. No night scented flowers yet; the hawthorn and the lilac aren’t quite out. The breeze whispered secrets to the trees.

I wanted the wind to speak of you. But the wind and I don’t speak the same language. The fox and owl did. They listened, to the wind, and to each other. All else in my garden was silent, and still, when the wind went whispering away. It left behind quivering shadows, and smaller darknesses, waiting, waiting.

In the pause between one breath and the next, the fox slipped into the hedge shadows, while the owl ghosted away across the fields, leaving only the echo of her banshee scream behind. The garden exhaled.

I stole down the stairs, and out through the garden door. The ground was alive beneath my feet; the grass, already dew freighted, clasped and caressed my toes and heels as I danced to the music of the moon. And the stars shone, just for me.

And when I crept back into my bed, I felt the starlight humming in my bones. I can still feel the echo, now.

If the skies are clear again tonight, I won’t be taking that little pink pill.




A.J.Grace-Smith lives and procrastinates in Gloucestershire. She has had a handful of short stories published online, and is supposed to be redrafting her first novel. She spends too much time on Twitter as @Eryth, and blogs a bit at http://flyingnotfalling.wordpress.com/

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