A star is falling across the murky darkness. It plunges down from somewhere off-screen and careens toward the park across the street, its jagged trajectory branding the sky silver and gold.
“Should we make a wish?” I ask Jolene, although talking about celestial bodies with your ex is never a good idea.
“Think bigger.” She breezes through the balcony doors and weaves around the sleeping partygoers strewn like cicada coats all over my shoebox apartment. Her smile puts to shame the astral shimmer across the sky. “My dear Stephanie, how often do you get the chance to catch a falling star?”
Outside, the wind gnaws on every exposed part of us. Jolene bends down and licks a long swath of luminous stardust from the gray sidewalk slush.
“What does it taste like?” I ask.
“Like drinking margaritas on the beach,” she replies.
I follow her lead and touch the dissolving star matter. Word has it that stardust tastes like the thing you want the most. When I bring my finger to my mouth, the first time Jolene and I kissed bursts on my tongue. This sums up what had always been the problem in our relationship: it meant too much to me and not enough to her.
“Come on,” I say, and Jolene hurries to keep up with my strides. The dazzling afterimage is fading fast from the sky, but the snow still glitters like ground diamonds beneath my wet house slippers.
By the time we reach the small patch of city green, my breath has lodged beneath my breastbone. There’s an indentation where the star crash-landed in the grass. Around it, the pearly snow turns to puffy tendrils of steam. The star is about the size of a child’s heart. I scoop it up, and it’s freezing; the shock almost makes me drop it. The star twitches in my hands, then shrivels a bit, curling in on itself. Its light—its glitter—goes out.
I expect Jolene to make a grab for it and claim the wish for herself, even though the star is a dying thing. Instead, she cups her hands around mine and guides the star into the pocket of her wool coat.
“There you are, all warm and snug,” she coos. I must grimace, because Jolene lets out a fluttery laugh that frosts the air. “What? We’re the ones who found it, so it’s our responsibility to take care of it.”
The Jolene I know doesn’t do responsibility. She’s a taker, not a giver. Yet now her expression is so open, it makes me feel like I’m gazing at the star-splashed night sky. I’m starting to think that our break-up all those months ago might not have been entirely her fault.
Jolene’s winter-kissed fingers thread through mine. “Steph, let’s go back home. I’ll make coffee, yeah?”
I swallow around the cotton-ball lump in my throat. “Yeah. Okay.”
We head back to the apartment, linked together like twinned crystals. When I glance at Jolene, the pocket of her coat is glowing.
Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Daily Science Fiction, The Forge Literary, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Argot Magazine, The Arcanist, and other venues. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.
Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash