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12+

The Stars

by WeepingWisteria


I used to practically worship the stars. The glimmer that tinged the sky seemed to hold a message of hope. Somewhere out there, way out there, there was a chance of someone being just like me. Someone who would stare out at the black sky with its minuscule polka-dots and just think.

It didn’t matter how cold it was; I’d stay outside for as long as I could. I’d escape the aroma of strict chemicals and harsh antibacterial soap by sitting on top of my roof. For as long as I could remember, I had been good at climbing. I would straddle my windowsill, shivering in excitement, then pull myself up. The frigid shingles were always more welcoming than my warm bed or the arms of my parents. The roof had so much more to offer me.

I never told my parents or any of my family that would visit me every so often about my little escape. It was a secret that was mine to keep—my love affair with the sky. Whenever I told my parents that I wanted to be an astronomer, they would just sigh. How would they feel if they discovered that I spent most hours of the night upon the roof, which was untouched by their rigorous and unending cleaning routines?

It all started when I learned that everything on Earth was made from stardust - including me. I don’t remember if I learned it from the pages of a wrinkled book, a dim screen, or the monotone voice of my father. That day, which was so long ago and hidden in the back of my mind for safe-keeping, changed my life. I have never owned a telescope, and I know now that I never will. I didn’t need one, though. I had eyes, large and bright eyes, my grandma would say. Eyes that looked like amber and sparkled like my beloved stars.

Most of my family thinks that since I’m obsessed with the stars and their shine, that I’d also be in love with the planets. However, that has never been and never will be the case. Everyone tells you to aim for the stars, but planets are where normal things happen. Where coarse parents scrub their walls three times a day while their child grows dizzy with the overbearing scent of their work. Planets are where little kids find themselves face to face with needles as long as their fingers. Stars are where good people go when they die. The stars are the home of kind souls that are warmer than anyone I’ve ever met could be. The stars were my goal for my current life and the one that comes after death.

Though, thinking that makes me slightly guilty. My parents despise it when my mind goes anywhere near death or the afterlife or anything of that sort. I just find it so easy. The stars have always felt more like home than anything my hard-working parents could provide. Though, I could never tell them that. To them, I just existed in the little bubble that was our sterile home. I loved the constant visits from family, and I was fine with always being in the presence of someone who was near tears simply because they were looking at me. They thought that I was a good child that went to bed as soon as I was told. That I didn’t view a ceiling as a prison or a window as an invitation. They had always been very wrong about me, and I never attempted to correct them. I saw no point. They wanted a certain type of child, and I pretended to be exactly that. They didn’t need to know that I was anything different or anything more.

Perhaps that was where I had made my mistake. If they knew who I was, who I really was under the abrasive scent of lemon and chemicals, maybe I would have had a bit more freedom. I would’ve grown up under the sky. Maybe they would’ve found a way to give me every star that there is to see. Maybe the roof wouldn’t be so cold, and the long nights wouldn’t be so alone. Maybe that’s why I didn’t tell them. I didn’t care how much the temperature dropped, and I could never feel alone under the stars. I knew many stars by name. There is Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Fomalhaut, Vega, Canopus, Altair, Aldebaran, Arcturus, Deneb, Canis Majoris, and so many others. They were my friends. They were my comforters on the nights that I felt like crying, my supporters on the days I felt like giving up. I didn’t need my parents or my mournful family that I will never be able to truly know when I had the sky. That’s all I needed. Most days, when our home star peeks over the squat houses that filled up my bland neighbourhood and nameless town, I retreated to my room to my cell. That’s when people started using my name, but when I lost it. I have lived my life as a shadow, a drifting spirit, thirsty not for the sun, grass, or human connection but for starlight.

It sounds like I’m ridiculous. My parents love me in their odd way, and they try to keep me safe from all of the extra things that could hurt me in unimaginable ways. It’s not their fault that they haven’t realized that they were hurting me. I had a brief window of time to drink the sky, and they never realized that I needed to take it. Nobody but me did. It’s only when I think about that, in the light of day that creeps and trickles through my window, that I feel alone. When I know an impenetrable shield of light blots out my stars. A shield that everyone else craves but I want to hide from. Is that a bad thing? Does that make me a bad person for not wanting the light that allows me to live for my fleeting amount of time? Should I honour it? Should I put on a happy face for it too?

A month ago, I would’ve said no. A month ago, I would’ve closed the curtains until my mother forced them open. I would ignore the day by shoving my nose into books about space and the stars. My entire life was for my stars, my little slices of freedom, the twinkling lights that told me that everything was going to be ok. It is currently night. I can feel it. My parents have gone to bed. My relatives have left. I am the only person awake in this house. It would be time for me to fling my window up and fall into the open arms of my galaxy. But the window is closed tonight. It was closed last night, and it will be closed tomorrow, and it will be closed forevermore. The stars are no longer my home or my companions. Two weeks ago, on a day that should’ve been like any other, I woke up to an unforgiving vision of pure black. I screamed for the first time that morning in… I don’t know how long. It was that day that I had discovered my cancer had stolen my eyes and, in doing that, my sky. 


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32 Reviews


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Reviews: 32

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Sun Jan 22, 2023 6:55 am
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HalfheartedAmateur wrote a review...



Oh, this hurt - this struck a nerve with me because it's so incredibly relatable and vulnerably an aspect of my life. It touches my heart and my soul so deeply, so thank you for creating such a breathtakingly incredible written short story that's filled with haunting beauty. The style and format in which you've intertwined the stars with family and life in general - it blows my mind. The lovely descriptiveness as well as introspective questions woven into it - ugh, hit close to home and almost brought me to tears that were bittersweet. Super well done and kudos to you for an impressive talent of writing. I bet whoever has read this has been some way or another impacted and influenced by this short story. The twists and turns, the impactful sequence of the storyline, just everything. I gasped and I related. My mouth dropped and my heart dropped. I was devastated and blown away. This short story was an honor and a pleasure to read. Thank you.




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Sat Jun 26, 2021 1:53 am
QuoolQuo wrote a review...



Ahoy hoy,

Its been a while since I last reviewed so I thought I'd get back out there with this lovely piece of yours, pointing out a few great things and few that could become greater.
God I hope don't mess this up because this writing was truly unique and beautiful and the ending a tragedy that definitely shocked me.

1.

I used to practically worship the stars. The glimmer that tinged the sky seemed to hold a message of hope. Somewhere out there, way out there, there was a chance of someone being just like me. Someone who would stare out at the black sky with its minuscule polka-dots and just think.


I very much enjoyed this opening. It effectively sets and establishes the overarching tone of the piece, as well as what the reader can expect in terms of writing that, in my opinion, held a nice sense of simplicity which can be extremely impactful when done well as you have.

2.
I’d escape the aroma of strict chemicals and harsh antibacterial soap by sitting on top of my roof.


Again, let me compliment you on how well this establishes the world this character lives in which also, when I look back, hints that something isn't quite. When I first read it, my brain decided to dismiss it but when this theme of the family's obsession with cleaning kept popping it up it certainly got my attention and intrigued me to keep reading.

3.
It all started when I learned that everything on Earth was made from stardust. Including me.


I personally find nothing wrong with this line (in fact it's one of my favourites), but you never know when the grammar police may strike so might I suggest turning this into one sentence?
Now I understand how this may not seem like fun and lessen the line's impact which is where I present to you that most legendary grammar device, the dash

It all started when I learned that everything on Earth was made from stardust - including me.


sorry if I'm horrible at explaining things. Please feel free to dismiss my suggestion.

4.
Eyes that looked like amber and sparkled like my beloved stars.


Again I just wanted to say that I really loved this line.

5.
That’s when people started using my name, but when I lost it.


This may be just me, but when reading this sentence it felt, sort of, incomplete and I didn't completely understand what it was saying with the second half - if that makes sense. I'm not sure, as I said, this might be just me, but I thought I'd add it in here anyway in case anyone else had the same impression.

6.
It’s not their fault that they haven’t realized that they’re truly just hurting me.


This isn't so much a criticism and more of a suggestion to remove unnecessary words (says the person who thrives on unnecessary words) by which I mean the 'truly just' part.
These words somewhat dilute the impact the sentence's meaning and by removing them, your message might become more direct if that's what you wish.

7.
It was that day that I had discovered my cancer had stolen my eyes and, in doing that, my sky.


And to crown this piece of art, an ending that definitely delivers on the shock factor, but when on reading back through is fairly reasonable when picking up on all those subtle hints (that I'm assuming were intentional because they really were quite clever).

And that's about all I can say.
I quite enjoyed this story though it may not have fitted the traditional narrative format. It was well structured and overall well paced with a character whose life was considerably fleshed out despite all references being vague. All in all, nice work.

(hopefully that review was okay)

- QuoolQuo






You left a wonderful review! I'm glad you enjoyed this piece so much. About the line, you were feeling a bit confused on, "that%u2019s when people started using my name, but when I lost it", it means that while the character eased back into a place with people where people started calling for them, but when they lost their identity. Their name wasn't their own because it was in space they didn't belong if that makes sense. Thank you so much for reading my work, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!



QuoolQuo says...


Ah, I understand now. Maybe consider getting rid of the %u2018but when%u2019 to make it a bit more clear, just a suggestion. I%u2019m glad my review was okay :)



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Fri Jun 25, 2021 9:30 am
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi AlmostImmortal,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

First of all, welcome to YWS! I hope you have fun here!

Let´s start right away with your short story.

That was a special story you wrote. I liked the pace of the story and the more you read, the more you wish you were closer to the stars. And yet, in an interplay of sentences describing the narrator's home and the distance, you create a certain longing, a world-weariness for escape and love, a search for home. I like this theme, especially because it is used very often - space and longing, and yet you have written it in a new, interesting way.

What I liked very much is how fragments of the text seem a little strange at the beginning, and yet after a second reading, become clearer, bringing the real drama out of the text. I liked that very much, and it also gave me a good shiver. :D Among other things, I like the chemical smells that sound a little strange at the beginning. Also, as you describe later, the narrator prefers stars to planets because they light up the night sky, just as eyes light up life.

Your last paragraph destroys the whole illusion you built up at the beginning. You do it in a very remarkable way that I didn't expect at this point. I like how the ending feels unsatisfying, and it feels a little unfair to the narrator, and yet throughout the reading, the story had such a melancholic, wistful aura that I didn't know how to interpret. I like how you've built it up so that the whole story reads like a drama. It was a very interesting and unusual story, which is why I liked it.

Some other points, that I found while reading:

Someone who would stare out at the black sky with its minuscule polka-dots and just think.

That´s a neat description of the stars. I haven´t read the idea of stars being like polka-dots. I also really like your introduction here. As one can clearly see, you build up a good backstory before jumping into the plot. I especially like, how you start the first sentence with an “overall view” before going deeper into the meaning behind the sentence.

What I enjoyed in your second paragraph was the change of tone in it. The first half had still the voice from the first paragraph; it was a more narrative voice, before it changed to the actual narrator.

I never told my parents or any of my family that would visit me every so often about my little escape.

I don´t know if that was intentional, but I think you could change the “any of my family” with a specific member of the family, like aunt, sister, etc… Because in the context of the story so far, it sounds a bit strange, to read this part of the sentence.

Eyes that looked like amber and sparkled like my beloved stars.

Beautiful description!

I just find it so easy. The stars have always felt more like home than anything my hard-working parents could provide.

After the last paragraph, these sentences read like they are a death wish of the narrator. I don´t know if it´s just me, that reads it like this, or also some others, but since the story is more about the love and desire for something, I would change it a bit, so that it doesn´t sound like a death wish.

In summary, it was a very nice text indeed. It had something of an elegy without falling too much into mourning.

Have fun writing!

Mailice.






Thank you so much for the review! I really went into this story wanting to set up this intense desire, so much so that the reader wants it too, and then taking it away. I really wanted to sound innocent enough at first glance, but with a more sinister meaning underneath it, and I'm glad that you caught that. A tragedy that isn't so much foreshadowed, just present. The very vague idea of family was quite intentional. It was supposed to convey a distance between the narrator and their family. They're just faces that will be at their funeral, nothing more. I'm glad you appreciated the pacing. I was worried it was a little slow. So, thank you for everything! I'm glad you enjoyed my story.



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Fri Jun 25, 2021 6:10 am
KWN says...



wow good job i liked it alot






Thank you!




Prometheus, thief of light, giver of light, bound by the gods, must have been a book.
— Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves