I inhaled deeply and stepped out onto my porch, drinking in the quiet night before me. The houses were quiet, their inhabitants fast asleep dreaming of a better world. Sometimes I was like them and I fell asleep right away, thought about school no longer plaguing my mind. Somedays I couldn’t sleep at all, wondering if the stars above me thought about me as I wondered about them. But tonight was different. The crickets that usually chirped in the night were silent, their sweet melody snuffed out. Even the stars weren’t as bright and it seemed, as I walked down my porch stairs, that even the moon knew something was astray.
I reached the end of the small staircase down from my wooden porch and stepped into the gravel driveway. My parents were gone, like usual and their car too. Most nights I found the house to silent and ventured outside, the crickets and stars giving me comfort. But tonight was different. The grass that sat in the dark seemed to move away from the street as if some vile creature was near but everywhere I looked, no one was there. My shoes scuffed the pavement as I made my way into the large streets, the houses staring at me from their side of the sidewalk. Not a single light was on, not a single voice could be heard. Not even a single sound could be heard either than my calm breathing.
The air was hot but I never grew tired of the summer, craving it when winter rolled around. I craved the summer heat and the summer breeze that kissed my face like a drug. Being locked up in school and inside during the winter and autumn, squashed all of my inspiration and joy. But the minute the final school bell rang and the children escaped the yearly prison, I was filled with joy and inspiration.
I rounded a corner, following the street. One by one, I passed by each sleepy house wondering who lived there. I’d recently moved into this neighborhood at the beginning of high school but had never bothered to meet my neighbors. I knew the neighbor who lived right next to me but after that, the rest were all just strangers. Who knew that would change tonight? Suddenly I reached the end of the street, facing a few houses. There was nothing unusual about them, each had their own garden and giant bay windows in the front. They seemed empty as if the owners were just ghosts. Like my parents. I turned around, nothing piquing my interest.
Until I saw him.
He sat on the edge of a large wooden fence, watching the stars above. Maybe it was his looks or the fact that he held a camera in his hand but I felt drawn to him. I rushed over to him, calling out to him. His head snapped towards me, beautiful eyes blinking at me.
"what are you doing?" I asked, approaching the fence. The boy blinked and placed his camera on the edge of the fence, his face coming into view. He was about my age, brown hair, brown eyes and a hell of a jawline. But it wasn’t his looks that made him irresistible. It was the camera in his hands. It was old, the kind that needed film. Not like the stupid digital cameras that took seventeen hours to charge.
I looked at the photos he’d taken, picking up one of them. They were placed neatly along the fence, right next to him. He didn’t seem to mind and started explaining to me what they were.
"That’s the tree in my backyard," he pointed to a tree swaying in the summer’s breeze. I nodded and stared at another photo.
"That’s the moon." I cocked my head, asking if I could keep it. He nodded despite the fact that we’d only known each other for a few seconds and he didn’t even know my name. Was this the start of a friendship?
"What about this one?" I pointed towards another photo. He picked it up and patted the seat next to him. I hauled myself onto it, the wood scraping against my legs. He was wearing shorts too but didn’t seem to be bothered by the splintering wood.
"That’s a picture of my parents and me." My gaze flickered towards him, surveying the sadness in his eyes.
"Where are they?" I asked, placing my hand next to his. It wasn’t a flirtatious movement but rather a friendly one, a measuring one.
"At work. They’re never home."
I chuckled to myself. "Me too."
We sat in silence, drinking in the night.
"Do you ever think about the stars?" He asked, breaking the silence.
"All the time." I murmured back. It was true. The school was boring and the stars were far more interesting.
"Do you think they care about us?" I glanced at him, placing my hands under my legs. I rocked back and forth, watching the stars above us. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t.
"Why would they? We’re not special." I responded after a while.
He looked at me, his hair bobbing back and forth. "You’re right. They don’t."
He seemed disappointed with me as if I’d failed him in some way.
"But that doesn’t mean we should stop gazing at them," I murmured, giving him a sly smile. He smiled back and snapped a picture of me.
Maybe this was the start of a new friendship.
Maybe it was the start of a love story.
Or a tragedy. We would never know.
All I knew was that I loved the stars even if they didn’t love me back.