Today I’d like to share with you a short story I wrote for my girlfriend around Valentine’s Day. I hope you like it, so let me know what you think!
Bits of Stardust
Her leg twitched slightly, brushing up against his. His hand rose and fell with her stomach, the cotton fibers an ocean of purple on which his palm floated. Her arm twitched again and punched his bicep involuntarily. She was a boxer in her sleep. He grinned at the sweet look on her face, her eyes fluttering wildly under the lids and her mouth slightly open. Her body expelled a cloud of deadly carbon dioxide gas through her jungle of bed head hair. His hand sunk into the ocean as her stomach dove.
His body rarely allowed him to sleep in late nowadays. He had woken near dawn, but could not bring himself to wake her. He had contented himself to lie beside her, she in his arms and him in hers.
The fabric of her pajamas ran across leg again, pushing aside his and grazing his leg hairs. He clenched his teeth and desperately tried to keep himself from crying out with laughter and flailing his whole body. He did not want to wake her. He tensed his body until the tickling stopped. God, why did he have to be so ticklish?
His other arm rested behind her head, his fingers just inches from her neck. They begged him to give them free reign on the open fields of skin. He reluctantly held them back, secretly longing to touch her soft skin. Caress the skin, the tiny hairs she hates to admit cover her body. Treat her as if God himself handcrafted her body and gave her to him to keep safe and unblemished. Make love to her skin with his hand.
The pressure of her body on his arm’s arteries caused his arm to scream for air. How could he remove his arm without disturbing her? Carefully, he slipped his arm free of its prison. Inch by inch, more of his arm cried out in thanks as it began to breathe freely again.
He was almost free, his wrist sliding through the tunnel of neck and pillow, when a piece of dust flew up his nose. Pressure built in his nasal cavity. His hand jerked slightly as he plugged his nose with the other. She stirred. For a moment, he sat there, heart pounding like a drum solo. She sighed. He took a short breath. She rolled over onto her side and off his hand. The sneeze faded away.
The boy sat with his book of blank pages and began to write. He wrote every day. Otherwise, his work would never be finished, and would still be unfinished when he returned to the dust of stars that made him.
After finishing, he gazed back over to her, peaceful and quiet. He saw the love in the look of her closed eyes.
He felt the familiar twinge in his chest. He had a headache.
He grabbed a cup and filled it with water from the bathroom sink. He brought it back and stood by the bed. A single ray of morning sunlight broke through the window shades. It crawled up the side of her head, just barely walking across her face. He held the cup too loosely in his hand and water spilled over the edge, onto her shoulder, chest and neck. He froze.
Her eyes blinked open once, twice, three times before she turned and saw him. A smile made of granny-smith apples and maple syrup played across her face.
“I’m so sorry,” he said. She grabbed him by the collar and pulled him to her lips.
Women in charge were hot.
Dust and boxes, that’s all that was in the attic. Her cat meowed at the door. The girl, crippled by time’s embrace as she now was, opened the door to the room of forgotten memories. “What’s in here, Beethoven?”
The cat waltzed into the room as if he owned the place. He ran to a stack of boxes and began to rub his side against one of them. The woman reached for the box, but her hand shook with the effort and the box fell to the ground. “Beethoven, look at what you’ve made me do,” she said sarcastically. She bent to pick up the box, but stopped when Beethoven meowed again, impatiently.
The cat jumped into the hole between the boxes. “Beethoven!” She tried to move some of the boxes to get to the cat, but he jumped back out, an old book clasped in his mouth. “You nearly gave me a heart attack, silly cat!” Beethoven dropped the book at her feet and purred proudly.
The woman picked up the book. She had never seen it before. Curious, she opened to the first page. She recognized the meticulously handwritten print, though she had not seen it in many years. In her mind, she read his words in his deep, slow voice.
“Love is a story of two. Two actors perform on a stage, for all to see, but never know. Two members sit in the audience, whose minds’ council never uttered. No one else can understand their love story. They only see a shadow playing across their eyes and guess at its wonders. For the story contains no words, no great epics nor ballads, only memories of lost moments in a sea of emotion and forgotten dreams. Such is life; life, the story of love.”
The woman sat and read his thoughts from days in their youth, until they parted and he wrote on alone, but always for her. She read without pause, until the final page and the final passage.
“I grow weary, love, though I have enjoyed sharing our memories with you. I can barely write now, I must be growing old. Keep this book of no words. I wrote it for you, us, our memories. I’m moving to a new place soon. It’s considerably smaller than my apartment, but it’s in the country and there’s acres of grass for us to lay in. I would really like to see you. I know many leagues and years separate us, but I would like to see you again. I have missed you all these years.”
The woman choked on her own tears. She had seen him, many times in the past years; the first time on a trip to see her mother.
Hours later she knelt by his home. His tomb was not made of marble or gold, but of earth and the dust of stars. She laid a bit of mistletoe on the stone above him, mistletoe he had given her as a Christmas present so many lifetimes ago.
“Oh, look, love,” she said, “mistletoe.” She bent and kissed him, sucking on his lips until they were red and bruised.
She read the engraving at the bottom of the stone, which he wrote in a notebook of words he never meant to publish. “There is no life in this universe but that of stars, and we, in all our wanderings and pains, are no exception. We are all, every atom, every molecule, and every soul, not but stardust shining in the void of space, and some shine brighter than us all; glittering in every atom there ever was or ever shall be.”
She rose and atoms coalesced around her, embracing her, kissing her, making love to her skin. She melted into his fingers again. Two stars, made one, shining brighter than all the rest. No one but the universe saw them, and no else could understand.
© 2012 Matthew Elkin