Image courtesy Flash Bros (Unsplash)

The weight of starlight

The feeling was not new. Often he found himself in need of being away from everything that made him forget what he really was. Being surrounded by false faces full of hideous smiles all day was tiring to say the least, but that was life for him. Day in and day out, in a routine of attempting to be remarkable he had the act forever on his face; a lie for everyone as everyones was a lie for him. Only in these hours of nothing could he hope to some day be, mundane. A colourless painting to all that turned no heads, a simple plea of his to be left to himself. In a soft cover of black under this velvet of the night stained with the dust of eons, all he begged for was to be reminded of being a speck of dust in the shadows.

He came to this hill and other hills, not once, not twice, but many a time, often blindly only realising when the tingle of sweet dew drops reminded him of dawn. Staring into an infinite canvas he would forget everything, all the lies, all the faces, words, tricks, and responsibilities, to be left alone to this parade of dust on dark. But come the light and the remarkable beckoned, the velvet taking on a different form no longer draped across the sky but flowing to the floor; waterfalls to cover a cave of deviance.

Every week it was something else, today he was a fisherman finding love, the next a king executing his queen. He had lived enough lives to forget his own and these little moments of solace were all he had left.

Having memorised the names of all his new friends — at least the ones that were closest — funny names they had but he didn’t complain. Altair, Acrab, Merak, and Nash were always around taking up odd shapes whenever they could clearly be seen. He never liked that habit of theirs, they reminded him of the morning. Though names were among the many things he wanted to forget, these were different, they didn’t care what they were called. If anything their names were given to them by people just like him, who couldn’t stop staring at the night sky. They did not matter, in truth they were just placeholders to help them remember as they jumped from one spec of dust to the next.

Yet come morning names did matter, colours mattered; some more than others. And it was this that haunted him the most, so he took up to changing his face, voice, and appearance as a profession. He made it a habit to be someone else, someone remarkable for the many false faces around him.

It had just rained as he exited the theatre, heavy buckled doors clashing against manufactured metal and stone his steps were soft yet slippery. Looking up he realised his friends would not be joining him tonight, yet as per habit he could not bring himself to going home and went for the hills. As the city slowly disappeared behind him from flashes of light to a scent of gravel, rubber, oil, and smog, it finally was just a hint of a sound. The only scent around him was petrichor, the only sounds were his feet crushing the grass, the only light from a muffled horizon barely allowing him to make out borders. The velvet was grey and not black tonight, patchy and not smooth as silk. His friends were missing, hidden away in their infinite realms behind this infinite blanket.

He could not find the courage to leave them though, so he stood there and waited. Layers upon layers of softness in the night sky shuffling over each other moving towards some infinite destination. They had a world to experience he thought as they teased him showing hints of the void behind. Amidst the grey he would catch a glimpse of light, a sparkle of dust, Acrab behind a veil, but he waited still. He waited for them, but more importantly so he could get a glimpse of that one star he came to see the most. One spec that shined the brightest for him. It was nothing compared to the others in their extravagance and grandeur but for him it was everything. All the others he respected, but her, he loved.

As he lay down on the grass hands behind his head staring into the layer of clouds he waited for her. The patch of grass next to him soft and wet. She was only 18 when the ropes broke, the catwalk fell, and blood and bones stained the stage. Many faces were shocked but hers was as beautiful as always, never a lie, always herself. They came to watch the dust settle many times till dawn. The stars all had names save for one, he had named it after her and every night as she looked at the heavens to forget all the versions of herself he looked at her and saw only her; his shining star.

As the clouds slowly parted to reveal a symphony of stars, nebulae, and wanderers, the infinity hit him as it always did pulling him in to this world of nothing. Among them that lone star of his, a constant reminder of who he was; her lover.

As always since her passing, he lay there looking up staring at her intently. The patch of grass next to him that was soft and wet felt crushed from the weight of starlight. A hand on his heart he closed his eyes and went off to dream, lying there in the grass, the warmth of her from the stars next to him.

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A collection of words making up everything the heart secretly desires

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Haider Ali Akmal

Haider Ali Akmal

Design Futurist, Printmaker, nerd, and occasional writer interested in the interconnectivity between empathy, memory, and the digital world.

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