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Fate and Other Mysteries

Let me tell you a story, of a girl in love with the stars…..

It does not matter if she was pretty or plain, sweet or sharp, a princess or a dairy maid. For there was only one thing she wanted and that was to touch a star.

Every clear night, when the pin pricks of light seemed almost close enough, she climbed a hill and lay watching them for hours. The sweet night air filled her lungs but could not clear her head of her fantasies.

She wondered if stars were cold or hot to the touch, if you bounced off their hard surface or fell into a soft embrace. Was there music up there? There should be, lyres and trumpets and drums and a high clear voice soaring above it all. A sunset on a star must be a poem, and the following sunrise a triumph.

This is the course her thoughts would take, and she would fall asleep with the galaxy swirling about her head. In the morning, she would be tired, so tired. People would wonder, but she never told, and the promise of seeing the stars again led her through the days and rainy nights.

It must be warned, people with only one desire are often unlucky enough to get it. And Fate decided that the girl should go to the stars. It is, after all, Fate’s job to keep humans alive, whether that is by making sure they find what they need or learn to avoid what they want.

It was one of her stargazing nights that saw it happen. She could not believe what was before her, but there it was. A ladder. A ladder that stretched into the sky until it disappeared from view.

The girl walked over, half in a daze, the other half exultant. As she laid a hand on one of the smooth wooden rungs, she felt a tremor of doubt shake her arm and resolve. She looked back at her home, with it's cheery yellow lights. Then she looked up, at those winking beauties studding the black above her. That settled it. She began to climb.

After the first hour, she began to reflect. Why was it so important she reach the stars? Why was anything important? She had not even reached the clouds yet. Still she pressed on, pulling herself ever higher. She did not look down.

I will not tell you all that happened, but time began to move differently for the girl. Her arms and legs grew stronger, she moved faster, the ground shrank beneath her. Her smooth freckled face did not change at all, but her brown hair became gray, and then white. There was no hunger or thirst, only the climb.

It was still night.

The end was in sight. One of the stars was quite close, looking huge in a way it hadn't back on her tiny planet.

But oh!

The ladder ended!

The girl's heart gave a great throb of despair. To be so close to her goal!

She gazed at the star, so lovely and full of light. And she felt steel snap around her spine. She would not be denied.

So her feet found the top rung, and she stood swaying in the cosmos, alone, desperately alone.

She curled in on herself and leapt.

And soared.

Now she laughed, for she was not sure if she was going up or down, but she was getting closer. The wind tore at her face whipping her hair around her.

She landed in a shower of sparks.

She stood on a star.

For approximately three hours she ran, skipped, and cartwheeled her way across the red-gold surface of her star. It was beautiful. But she began to grow bored. There’s not really much to do on a star, especially by yourself.

So she dusted herself off and went looking for the ladder.

She did not find it.

Far in the distance, she could see her planet, but the ladder had gone.

Now she began to feel nervous.

Why had she trusted some random ladder to look after her?

Suppose she had fallen?

There hadn't even been a net!

And now, more worrying than falling, suppose she could not get home again?

Because the surface of the star was lovely, and everything she had hoped for, but down there was her home, her family. Was she to never return?

The steel melted from her spine and she sank to the ground, wrapped her arms around her knees and started crying.

After about five minutes of this, she felt someone looking at her. She jerked her head up to see….. well everyone sees it differently, and after they have, cannot remember what it looked like. But the thing she saw was called Fate. And Fate was ready to return her home.

“Have you learned your lesson, little one?”

Hastily wiping her tears, the girl nodded.

“Then come.” Fate reached out, gathering her little hot hand in its long cool hand. And the girl was standing back on her hill. By the placement of the moon, three hours had passed. She looked around her, stared a while at the wind rustling the leaves.

“Thank you.” She whispered, and turned to go home.

On her walk back, she thought for a time, about the star. And remembered the trick with mirrors her friend had showed her.

Maybe, just maybe…….

And Fate shook its head (or whatever it had instead of a head) as the first astronomer walked home, her white hair shining faintly in the moonlight.

They may not learn, but they grow.