Stars (198)


I used to live where the sky never ends.

Coming home meant a ten-minute drive, winding pavement past a llama farm and ten or fifteen houses, but none like mine. I turned right at a fat stone mailbox, purred over the cattle guard, and coasted down 800 meters to gravel, where I slowed and flicked off my headlights. I always cut the engine, but never the radio, at least not right away. When I did, though, I was ready for cold, and would edge out of the car holding everything – purse, coat, cell phone, scarf, Chap Stick – as if nothing could ever be consolidated.

I stood still so the gravel wouldn’t crunch, and I looked up.

Stars are a cliché, the lame romantic pastime of night beasts and dreamers. But the stars there, those were never-ending, because the sky was never-ending. It only paused to meet the soft line of horizon that pines on mountains make, and then went on and on.

So looking up was like growing as tall and strong as Atlas, something I used to wish for. Now, though, I know that holding the world wouldn’t be enough anyway, that maybe strength is less important.


(this post was inspired by a Red Writing Hood prompt provided by Write on Edge. For fabulous 200 word pieces, click the link.)

25 responses »

  1. Stars are only a cliché until the day when one goes to a place like this, the vast great plains filled with cattle and sage. The sky really does go on forever.
    We moved to Vermont (temporarily… but it’s already been too long) and my kids do not know what a REAL sunset looks like. They know that the sun “sets” at night, IE it gets dark. Every once in a rare while, the clouds off in the west might have a little tinge of color. But they’ve never, ever experienced the site of the glowing celestial body sinking low on the horizon, spreading color everywhere, until it is gone and out of site. They don’t understand that it can still be light out for a few moments, even after the sun has disappeared below the horizon.

    My other favorite sense here was the purring of the cattle guard! People who don’t know what it is, or experience it for the first time might find it jarring. But for those of us who’ve lived in cattle country, the idea of “purring” makes sense. For some of us, who might have fallen asleep on the way home, that purr might be the signal that begins the waking process, telling us we’re almost home.

    Great post!

    • Vermont is so different than the Wild West… but I feel like there are more connections between those rural western states and Vermont than I ever expect. This is a fabulous comment — I tried to reciprocate, but don’t know whether I succeeded. In any case, thank you 🙂

  2. Wow…the closest I’ve come to your beautiful description a sky full of endless stars is when I’m at the beach and it doesn’t have the drop off factor going for it.

    I thought you did a great job with your description of this place. It made me want to be there and yet, in many ways I felt I was there from your words.

    Well done and thanks for sharing this. It’s nice to have another recruit flash fiction fun:~)

    • Ohh, thank you so much! I loved your story, too, and I love that the prompt could elicit such a wide variety of responses.

      Anyway, I recommend Montana for the stars and Scotland for the sea, but that’s just my take!

      Thank you for reading and writing 🙂

  3. Wow, this is beautiful, gathering everything before standing in awe below the stars. I don’t find stars to be cliche in the way you used them, showing how your perception of the world has changed.

    • Doesn’t the sky just get inside of us? It’s incredible. And it’s some human thing we share in that desire to look out and be a part of all that. Thank you for reading!

  4. When I did, though, I was ready for cold, and would edge out of the car holding everything – purse, coat, cell phone, scarf, Chap Stick – as if nothing could ever be consolidated.

    This line really reasonated with me. Could picture it perfectly..actually felt as if that was me. I also really liked how you said none of the other houses were like yours. I think we all have an innate knowing of OUR home…it’s particular quirks, scents, etc. Very nice!
    Glad I stopped by from Write on Edge.

    • I think you’re totally right about homes… although when I wrote that I was thinking about the fact that mine was actually an old forest service house colored forest green with a red tin roof. My mom moved it out there by highway because the forest service was going to burn it down. It was huge and literally like a commune with two other families or people living in different parts all the time.

      Also, really glad you mentioned that this was the prompt from Write on Edge, because for some reason I was in a rush yesterday and didn’t include the link or anything. But I’ll edit the post tonight and add the prompt and a link — thanks 🙂

  5. I love that first line. Drew me right in. The way you broke it in the middle to make silence was extremely effective too. Good piece.

    • I am really interested in playing with silence — have you read Drown by Junot Diaz? He talks about silence there, in the effective story. Pretty interesting stuff. Anyway, thank you for reading and writing!

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