Fear of Falling
We lay down on the grass together to read the stars. It was the end of August, and our arms prickled with goosebumps. You said, “I can’t believe summer’s nearly over.” We’d just celebrated my sixteenth birthday.
Above, the band of the Milky Way wound across our vision. If we stared straight up, we couldn’t see anything but sky.
You were inches from me, and the blanket billowed in the spaces between us where the grass didn’t lay flat.
“Will you show me Lyra?” I asked.
When you moved your hand, our fingers bumped.
“Well, there’s Vega,” you said, and your deepening voice leapt. You gestured to one of the brighter stars, and as your hand moved I followed its sweep from the broken neck to the diamond box of the lyre’s body.
You dropped your hand and it landed close enough to mine that I felt heat from your fingers. I hooked my pinky over yours, and the sky lurched. Air rushed out of your mouth. The liquid in my stomach shifted. Our bodies were rising.
Your hand gathered mine into it, and you looked at me. My hair waved like the tentacles of a sea anemone, crowning my face, and I smiled at you. Your blue eyes were wide. The loose sleeves and body of your shirt were raised above your skin, buoyed by empty air. The laces on our shoes tangled.
“What’s happening?” you asked.
Beyond your ear, the high meadow grass stood on end. A cricket was floating above your shoulder.
I looked back at the stars, which increased in my eyes.
“The end of the world?” I asked, breathless.
You gulped and your eyes glistened.
“It’s too soon,” you said.
I nodded, memorizing the curl of your eyelashes and the solemn bend of your cheek.
You drew my hand in, my arm bent so I came to you, and kissed me softly. We hung, eyes closed, hearts bursting, then fell back to earth with a soft thud.
The stars I saw in your eyes no longer grew. You squeezed my palm and sat up, patting the ground beneath you. I placed my hands to my racing heart.
“Not the end yet,” I murmured.
“Hm?” you asked, and I sat up with you.
I shook my head and smiled, reaching for your cheek. This time when we kissed, the stars stayed in place.
Author’s Note: This piece was inspired by a real fear of a friend of mine, with my own spin on it.
Stay tuned for Audrey’s No Rules Friday next week.