Reggie’s excuse was that he’d forgotten his phone in his car, but really he just needed to get outside, to get away from all the well-meaning partygoers. He leaned against the porch railing, his breath a plume in the frigid air, and gazed up at the stars. His great-grammy had told him that stars were loved ones, watching down on you. Which one was Curtis?
He raised his beer bottle and tipped it towards the sky. “Cheers, bro.” He downed what was left, then chucked the bottle across the yard where it half-buried itself in the snow.
Reggie turned at the voice.
“I thought I’d find you out here.” Stella moved next to him, shivering without her coat.
“I needed a breather.”
“Me too.” She looked up at the sky. “Lotta stars tonight.”
Reggie nodded. He knew Stella as a friend of a friend, whose orbit only sometimes overlapped his. Her personality lit up a room, so unlike his own which lately seemed to dampen everyone around him.
“I should pick up that bottle.” He wasn’t sure why she was out here shining at him tonight or how he should feel about it. All his energy went to thinking about Curtis.
“I’m sorry about your friend.” Her voice followed him across the yard. “I hope they catch whoever did it.”
He stood in the snow, relishing this break before he’d have to go back inside and once again be the poor friend of the murdered guy, the one everyone whispered about.
He turned and walked towards the house, towards Stella waiting for him on the porch, but stopped to look up at the stars again.
One in particular seemed to twinkle down at him.
Reggie smiled, then headed back inside with Stella’s hand tucked into his.
E.D. Martin is a writer with a knack for finding new jobs in new places. Born and raised in Illinois, her past incarnations have included bookstore barista in Indiana, college student in southern France, statistician in North Carolina, economic development analyst in North Dakota, and high school teacher in Iowa. She draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of “what if” thrown in.
She currently lives in Illinois where she job hops while attending grad school and working on her novels. Read more of her stories at her website.