Star Bright

This is a bit long, but I wanted to share and it seemed fitting after my previous post about Sara. I wrote this short story based on what I imagined her inner life may have been like.

Star Bright

The day I was born, I wasn’t expected to live through the night. When I was four, I was not able to speak, so I laughed and giggled. When I was eight, I could not walk, so I swam. At 16, I lost the ability to breathe on my own, so I was given a machine to do it for me. I lived in this world until I was 24, and that’s when I learned how to fly.

My mom nicknamed me Star because she wanted me to always remember that I was special. Every night when she put me to bed, she would sing:

Star light, star bright,

Sara is the first star I see tonight.

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.

My wish was always the same. I wished I could fly.

I always had an active imagination. One summer I was a mermaid queen in command of an entire city of merpeople. My strong tail fin could get me from one end of my underworld kingdom to another in minutes. I knew all of my subjects by name and where they lived. They would bring me bouquets of seaweed and coral and ask me to tell them stories about what was beyond the kingdom. I would thrill them with tales of pirate’s ships and lost treasure and remind them that they were always safe in the kingdom with me.

In the mornings I would wake up before everyone else in the house and have conversations with the birds outside my window. They would tell me about flying, and how freeing it was to be able to soar over the trees and twirl and dance in the air with the wind rushing through their feathers. To my dismay, they would fly south in the winter. My mom never understood why she would find me crying when she came to help me get ready for the day. I missed my friends. They were the only ones who truly understood me. I didn’t need to have the ability to talk to them with words. I understood their songs and they comforted me, telling me that one-day I would also be free and able to soar through the heavens.

I knew my mom was sad because I would have to leave her someday and I wished I could tell her I would be all right. My birds would take care of me. They would teach me to fly and show me the way. Since I couldn’t tell her, I tried to smile as big and bright as possible so she would know. She asked me if I was happy and I nodded emphatically. It was only a little bit of a lie.

I had some other friends, too. Real friends who would make silly faces they knew would make me laugh the hardest. Some of them were family and some of them took care of me when my mom needed help. We would watch my favorite TV shows and movies together. I loved comedy of course, but I also liked to be scared sometimes. They would paint my face and nails so I could feel pretty, even though I couldn’t do it myself. When they showed me what I looked like, I would laugh some more. They always ended up making me look more like a clown, but that was okay.

On good days, I could go to school and see my other friends who were more like me. No one was exactly like me, and most of them could do more than me, but that was also okay. I enjoyed watching them play and sing songs. My teachers were always very kind and tried to make sure that I was participating somehow. I could blow bubbles if they put the wand with magic soap in front of my mouth. I loved to see them bounce and pop with the see-through shimmer that sometimes had rainbows inside.

On bad days, I was in a lot of pain and everything hurt. My mom could tell that I wasn’t feeling well, so she would rub my feet and put a warm blanket over me, play my favorite movie and let me cry.

Summers were when I truly felt some happiness. We would all go to our cottage on the lake, and my dad and brothers would take me out into the cool, crisp water where I could actually float. That’s when I pretended to be a mermaid queen and they were my subjects. They would spin me around in an arc through the water and I loved the feeling of weightlessness as I slipped through their arms. The sun warmed my face and I wanted to stay there forever. As soon as I was back on land it was just like before and my arms and legs were useless, unlike my strong fins.

I was at a camp for kids like me when I got really sick and had to go to the hospital because I couldn’t breathe. They put a tube down my throat that helped. I didn’t like how it felt and I wished I could pull it out, but even if I could I knew they wouldn’t let me. I remember my mom’s face when she ran into my room at the hospital. She looked so scared. I wanted to comfort her so I smiled around the tube to let her know that I was okay.

Later they moved the tube by putting it into a hole they made in my neck, a place called my trachea. My mom had to learn how to clean it. Sometimes it would get filled with a thick fluid and made me feel like I was drowning until she suctioned it out with a long thin tube that made a loud slurping noise. I couldn’t eat without choking so they put in another tube coming out of my stomach. It felt funny, and it was strange to see my food, which looked like a tan colored milk, flow down from a bag hung overhead.

The machine that helped me breathe made a loud whooshing sound every time it put air into my lungs. At first, it made it hard for me to sleep, but I got used to it and it even felt comforting, knowing that it kept me alive. I started to wonder, though, if I still wanted to be anymore.

After they put in the tube coming out of my stomach, they also made a hole where my guts were and my poop came out of it into a bag my mom had to empty every time it filled up. It was stinky and gross and I didn’t like it, but there was nothing I could do about it.

My mom needed more help to take care of me now, so I ended up with more friends who came to see me almost every day. I was so happy to see them, especially because I knew my mom could go shopping and get out of the house if she wanted to without worrying about me.

The years kept passing by. I could no longer go swimming at the lake so I cried a lot more and time seemed to move much more slowly. I could still go places sometimes, but it would tire my mom and I out so we didn’t do it very often. Only on very special occasions, like Christmas. Christmas was my favorite holiday. My mom would bake cookies and sing carols while she decorated the tree. She would tickle my nose with shiny silver tinsel and I would laugh and giggle, so happy to see her happy.

If there was not too much snow, they would load me up in the van with the machine that helped me breathe and we would go to my aunt’s house and open presents. All my cousins would be there and I loved to watch them open their gifts and squeal with delight. Usually, people gave me movies that I could watch later, but watching my family on this special day was the best movie ever.

For my 21st birthday, my aunts surprised me with a party and my friends and family were all there. I even got to have a small sip of champagne that tickled my nose and it felt like there were tiny bubbles bouncing on my tongue. I got a lollypop, too, and I loved the sweet taste and the way it turned my tongue blue. There were lots of balloons and music and everybody danced, swinging my arms for me so that I could pretend I was dancing with them.

When everybody left, I was tired and sad. It had been a great day and I was glad everyone had a good time, but I still wanted to feel what it was like not to be trapped in my body. I overheard the doctors tell my mom years ago that I would never live to be 17, much less 21. I knew my mom was happy to have me here with her, and that made me feel better.

I had done many amazing things in my life I would never have been able to without my mom. She did everything she could to try to give me a fulfilling life and I was grateful. I wished I could tell her with words, and not being able to just made me cry even more.

One day, when the first snowflakes started to pepper my window with crystals, I saw a flash of red. A cardinal’s scarlet wings mesmerized me and I asked if he had come to teach me how to fly. He nodded and tapped at the window toward my breathing machine. I knew then what I had to do.

I waited until it was the middle of the night when my mom and dad were sleeping. There was an alarm on my machine that would wake them up if there was a problem, but I hoped maybe they wouldn’t hear it right away. Sometimes if I tried really hard I could hold my breathe like I was underwater and the tube would pop out of my trachea. This night I knew the birds must have helped me because it worked on the first try and the machine didn’t go off right away just like I had hoped for.

It was scary at first when I started to feel like I was drowning again. I couldn’t get air into my lungs and it burned. For a brief moment, I wondered if I had made a terrible mistake. What would my mom do without me? How could I do this to her when she had taken care of me all these years?

I heard her voice even though I couldn’t see her and she was singing…

Star light, star bright,

Sara is the first star I see tonight.

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.

I wished to be flying with my birds and suddenly I was. I could see my bedroom and then my house getting smaller and smaller as I moved quickly up and up.

I was free. I finally got my wish and it was wonderful.



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