“It really doesn’t matter where you stand. What does matter is, for that split second when the radiant beam pirouetted across the blackness of the sky, you make a wish.”
Leila’s voice was filled with a giddy hopefulness. The tone suited her youthful smile better than the drab cynicism she’d grown accustomed to hiding behind since her divorce two years prior. At 29 years old, her wide grin was a momentary picture of innocence and positive energy. Her eyes — brown buttons glimmering with remnants of the fallen star — glowed upon Odie, who inhaled peacefully, like every boy should when with the girl he fancies.
“But you can’t tell me. Or it won’t come true.”
“I know, I know.”
Odie, too, could not explain the aura of the moment, the sanctity of Leila’s gaze, the serendipitous circumstances that had led the two of them together after his previous girlfriend left him with nothing but a mattress and a $1,500 rent.
Odie’s lips curled mischievously upward in a fluid movement from the right side of his mouth to the left — like they always did when he was smiling, but not laughing.
“Gimme a minute.”
She tenderly rubbed his right bicep — adorned with a script tattoo reading “This too shall pass…” — as he closed his eyes.
“Tonight’s meteor shower isn’t worth the energy I’d expend flexing my neck to look up,” Dr. Miles Rockwall, professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, said, as he dismissed his first-year seminar section.
“It’ll still be cool to see,” Reina said from her second-row seat.
“You might as well stare toward streetlights at dusk, waiting for them to illuminate. It would certainly be a rarer sight.”
Tommy Cooper’s eighth grade science teacher told him to be outside at 8:30 p.m. if he wanted to see a shooting star. He opted to leave his iPhone inside, knowing it could only distract him. Eagerly, he sat on a blanket in his front yard, refusing to avert his eyes from the stretch of sky before him. He hesitated to even breathe.
An itch on his scalp ignored for fear of blocking an inch of sky for even a millisecond.
Two consecutive blinks. He cursed at himself inwardly. Did he miss it? He looked harder, fingers tapping on thighs.
Don’t. You. Sneeze. No. The twitch of a nose. Fighting the urge. Betrayed by his body. Eyes close. Aaaaaaa-CHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Nothing still. If it didn’t happen yet, he must’ve been too late. He goes back inside to text Joel, to see if he missed it too, blanket around his shoulders, frustrated and cold.
An empty lawn reflects the flash.
“It’s effin’ dead,” Wally Rasmussen said to his 8-year-old son, whose eyes beamed out the kitchen window at what was the greatest miracle he had ever witnessed. Wally took another gulp of cran-apple juice, straight from the plastic container. He had just been fired from his job as a groundskeeper at the local Catholic parish. It was discovered that he had broken into the monsignor’s office after-hours to watch “morally questionable” videos on pornographic sites. You would hope a man with such an ambiguous moral compass would at least delete the browser history. He didn’t even wash his hands afterward.
“Dead?” his horrified son asked.
“Dead,” Wally repeated. “Everything dies.”
Roger Treadwell rationalized to his girlfriend of four weeks that the shooting star was a “sign” that “this is just right.” “I love you,” he had said. Then he feigned lovemaking while thrusting into her.
“How romantic,” she thought.
“Ooh,” Myrnette Raille said, looking out her kitchen window while drying the final plate from that evening’s family dinner. “A falling star.”
“I didn’t see it,” her eldest daughter said, 13-year-old Bernice.
It was Bernice’s birthday. Her mother turned and, after drying her hands, handed Bernice a small box, wrapped in metallic red paper, finished with a shiny gold bow. Bernice shook it with two hands.
“It feels like there is nothing in here,” Bernice said. Myrnette held back the urge to wince. She gave a wooden smile instead.
Bernice proceeded to tear off the shiny gold bow, ravaging the metallic red paper, destroying the cardboard box, and practically disintegrating the thin tissue paper filling. Myrnette continued looking into the night sky wondrously from her kitchen sink.
“There’s nothing in here.”
Myrnette turned to her daughter confusedly. “What do you mean?” she asked. Bernice sifted deeper into the package. She ripped at the corners of the box before forcing a hole in the bottom.
“Mom, there’s nothing.”
“Oh, dear,” her mother said, looking despondently at the scraps of paper strewn about the floor. “I drew you a picture.”
Bernice’s eyebrows went up in a matter-of-fact fashion.
Myrnette looked away.
“I really wish you would have seen that shooting star.”
“OK, I got it,” Odie said, opening his eyes.
“Don’t tell me!” Leila pressed, her weight shifting forward again, her hands clutching his shirt. “Just think it.”
His smile spread from right to left again as he turned his head toward Leila. He took in another peaceful inhale as Leila’s head fell softly onto his shoulder. She breathed in his scent, closing her eyes while doing so. He kissed her on top of her head, his lips tickled by her dirty blond curls. Their hands molded into one another’s tightly, renewed hands, excitement building like it was the first touch they had ever felt.
“Do you think your wish will come true?”
“It’d be pretty cool if it did.”
— Louie Centanni is a creative writing graduate student.
—This piece of fiction does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.