The midnight girl was trapped in her tower, but she couldn’t remember why. She could never remember why. Sometimes it was on the tip of her tongue, at the very edge of her mind, and she would reach out with a gentle hand but it would fly away, quick and shocking as a hummingbird.
She would sing to her butterflies that visited her, would weep before bed, wake in the morning to eat oatmeal, and toss her stars in her star pile, but jar her favorite ones. Surely she would remember one day. Why she couldn’t get out. That made her ever so angry. No matter.
One morning, she woke, ate her oatmeal, and twirled around the tower. She spun a star from her fingertips, but didn’t quite like it and tossed it to her star-pile. Sometimes the human boy would come up and collect them. That’s when he would drop off more oatmeal for her, and other things. Sometimes jars.
The midnight girl wept earlier than normal this day, and she sang to her butterflies in a cracked-voice song. She pressed her head against the one window she had, the stone so cold it felt wet against her cheek. It was so beautiful where she was: a lush meadow, a waterfall in the distance, and flowers that dotted the land that she oh so wished to run around in. She could not leave the tower, though, and she paced around in concentration. There had to be a reason. Why. Why. Oh, she could not remember. She knew she had known. She had known. She couldn’t remember.
The girl let out a frustrated sigh and wept some more. Her tears would not stop falling, but it always felt wonderful afterwards, like with her tears left her pain and sadness and her loneliness.
Days went by, and she still could not remember. Her not-favorite star pile was growing larger, and she knew the human boy may come by soon to collect them.
In fact, only a few days later, the human boy arrived, his skin so pale it always surprised the midnight girl. She always thought he could stand to pinch his cheeks for a little rose, for his face was as pale as her glowing stars.
He didn’t say anything, as usual, and dumped a bag of items that clunked to the ground in front of the midnight girl’s feet. He began to collect her not-favorite stars in a bag, and the midnight girl shouted desperately, “Oh, please, human boy! Tell me why I am here. For I cannot remember. I just cannot. Please, tell me. Whyever can I not leave?”
The human boy’s reply was a grunt, the kind that human boys like to do and the kind that the midnight girl didn’t much like.
“Oh, please! You always come but then always leave and I must know something. Anything, please. What is your name?” She begged. She watched as he put then last star in his pouch, his back toward her. He was foggy, like a smear of gray paint, but also the clearest person she ever had seen.
Who had she seen? She couldn’t remember. She couldn’t remember anyone. The midnight girl tapped her starry fingers to her lips and paced the room, ignoring the boy. He began wandering the tower, picking up books and setting them back down again. She had all of them millions of times. She stopped pacing, and as the human boy picked up a book, she blurted, “That one is quite good.”
The boy cast her a glare, threw the book to the ground, and said, “Shut up.” His nose crinkled in the ugliest way but softened again to his boyish features as he turned away from her.
“Don’t go!” The midnight girl begged. “Please.”
“Make more stars,” the human boy said, his voice no longer razor sharp, but still cold enough that it sent shivers down the girl’s starred arms. He tightened his satchel closed, stormed to the area where she kept her favorite stars, and grabbed one of the jars.
“Wait! No. Wait. Please.” the midnight girl didn’t know what to say. He always took her not-favorite stars, but never took her favorite ones. “Why am I here?” She asked again, but her voice trailed out with the human boy, silenced by the slamming of her tower room’s door.
Why am I trapped? The midnight girl wondered to herself. She squeezed her eyes shut. She wandered to her window, but her butterflies were not there. Why. Why. Why. She could not remember. She wondered if she had ever known. No, she had to have. It was on the tip of her tongue. The edge of her mind. Her tears were all gone. She could not weep any longer.
Why does the human boy need my stars? She tried asking herself. This was a new question. A new route. But her mind was black, black as her nighttime eyes, black as her midnight sky.
The rest of the day, she created stars until her hands grew tired, so tired that they bled glitter and shine, and she fell asleep on the cold floor.
She awoke the next morning to a butterfly on her nose. “Hello, little butterfly,” she whispered. She sat up and made herself some oatmeal, then sang to her butterflies. Her memories flitted away from her, and she could not grasp them. The human boy, she thought. Whatever was he doing here? She could not remember and so then she made her stars and jarred her favorites, then wept before bed.