Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Short Story - Ricky

My body is racked with his thrusts, my mind clouding with the windshield of the old Ford. It was a 1955 model and he had compiled it himself from scrap. It’s not like that mattesr much at that point, though, and I chose not to think about it. Instead, I focused on the slow and steady rhythm of his body against mine.

My hands find their way to his back and I can feel his shoulder blades as he kisses my neck. Normally, I would find this lack of meat annoying and a bit disgusting, but tonight it doesn’t matter. None of this does, really. The only thing I’ll remember in the morning is the feel of the truck rocking gently in rhythm with his body and the sounds of Coldplay. I’ll always remember Coldplay.

“Check it out,” he says, “you get death and sex all in one night.”

I laugh lightly, “I’d say that was an accomplishment,” I whisper as I flash back to a cigarette burning red in the night. Death bares his ugly head again and I don’t want to focus on his red eyes (red like the cigarette’s glow).

I am carried back in time and find myself sitting again on the curb of Trenton Road looking at the car that threatened to end my existence. Bastard car, I think to myself, as I struggle to light up again. I’m shaking so hard I can’t get a flame going and the cigarette is growing moist in my mouth.

From nowhere, Gabriel’s hand reaches forward to help and its sudden presence produces a jolt of shock in my body. I jump slightly and he puts his hand on mine, “Rachael, it’s okay. It’s just me.” I sigh and laugh a little as he lights the cigarette. His voice sounds a thousand miles away.

Ricky is sitting next to me now and I turn to see his pretty face. He’s trying to smile, but I can see he’s just as scared as the rest of us. His hand touches my arm and it’s cold. “Are you okay?” he asks me and all I can do is nod dumbly. He usually wears his long black curls pulled back, but tonight they’re loose and framing his beautifully pale face. He looks almost ghostly in the moonlight and for a fleeting moment I wonder what it would be like to make love to him. It’s amazing the things that cross your mind at a time like this.

“She’s still in shock,” Gabriel tells him as Ricky takes my hand. Gabriel’s arm is around me and through all of it I feel a tinge of guilt for being the only one to show what a coward I am.

Ricky pats me on the back and once again gets up to help Rene inspect the damage to the Camaro. Gabriel sits with me, his arm still around my shoulder. My mind starts to clear and the only person I am conscious of is my ex-boyfriend Chris and that he is not here. I want his arms to be around me and I want it to be his voice telling me that it’s going to be okay, but he is safe at home and I am sitting here on the street curb staring death in the face.

For the first time I look at the death machine. The paint is scraped at the bottom where the wheel grabbed, forcing the vehicle to spin out of control. The passenger’s window (where I had been sitting) is shattered and I can’t help but think that I should be dead right now. I picture myself in Rene’s car, my head bashed against the window, glass decorating the deep wound. I should have died of internal bleeding. The only one that might have had a chance is Ricky, beautiful Ricky.

“What happened?” I ask the night in a small voice, “we should have died. What happened?”

Gabriel is rubbing his hand up and down my left arm. “We flipped,” he says quietly, “The car lost control and we flipped. But we’re okay now.” He pauses for a moment and I hear him chuckle, “We’re okay. The car…er…not so much.” I smile in the moonlight and I can hear Rene making a call to his ex-girlfriend. He’s going to milk this for all it’s worth tonight, and I can’t blame him.

“I almost died coming to see you,” I hear and realize I had forgotten where we were headed. We’d been on our way to her basketball game when Rene lost control of the car. We were going to trade our lives for a fucking basketball game and a relationship that was never meant to be. I hear his voice soften as he calls her “baby” and I want to throttle him.

Gabriel releases me and stands; my attention goes with him. He offers his hand and helps me to my feet. “Look,” he tells me as he points to the moon, “Isn’t it beautiful.” Ricky and Rene leave their post beside the now broken car and come to stand with us. Together, we’re looking at the brightest, most beautiful full moon either of us has ever seen.

Ricky runs forward and jumps. His hand becomes a silhouette against the full moon. “I’ll catch the moon for you, Rachael,” he yells back at me as he jumps again, this time landing in a crouched position. He looks wolf-like in the pale blue light, his shaggy hair framing his face. As if he’s read my mind, he thrusts his head back and begins to howl.

Rene shakes his head and he and Gabriel head back to the car to inspect its drivability. I am left standing there alone in the night, shivering and watching Ricky watch the moon. It’s obvious he knows even though I’m on the opposite end of the abandoned road. Little glances stolen between us piece together a story of what will happen later that night. We both knew it before a word was ever uttered.

I turn to walk back to the car and I can hear his footprints on the gravel behind me. My footsteps slow and I smile slightly as I let him catch up to me. I suspect he wants this as much as I do. Confirmation is mine when hand touches my own.

“Rachael,” he says quietly, “look at me.”

I do and he smiles. I smile my crooked smile and look at him through long eyelashes, “What?”

“You want to love me don’t you?” he asks as he puts his hand on my shoulder, pulling me closer to him. Our faces are only inches apart when he repeats his question, “You want to love me, don’t you?” There is no threat in his voice, only honest curiosity.

I smile and nod slightly, “Yes.”

He hugs me and we walk back to the car, his hand still on my shoulder. Neither of us calls it what it is – he doesn’t know me and I don’t know him. We met three weeks ago and tonight we’ll be fucking in his truck. But we won’t call it that. It would ruin the moment.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Poem - Symphony

Music plays on my mind
notes dancing
in and out of my consciousness.
Words form before my eyes
a kaleidescope of emotion,
painting on an empty canvas
wonderous stories untold.
I close my eyes and let
my fingers do the talking
as I rehearse a symphony
on your beautiful body.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Poem - The Wallflower

Words like shooting stars
elude me and I grasp
for a concept of affection
I can't define.

Memories of nights
held close to your chest
and hearing your soft and steady breathing
are harder to forget
that I'd expected.

And so I lie here silently
staring into the dark
with his arm draped across me,
wondering calmly
if you regret this, too.

Short Story - Deadline

There is a picture of us on my desk. We’re posing in front of Town Hall on Christmas Eve and there’s fresh snow on the ground. I’m standing there in my parka with a smile plastered on my face. He has me trapped in a bear hug, his hood pulled over his head and a goofy expression. There is so much happiness in the picture, but I can’t remember any of it.

I lean back in my chair and sigh. My eyes close and I see nothing but darkness. The still of the room is deafening. In the beginning, the photographs were the only things that kept me going. Now, I don’t want to hear his name. I inhale deeply as my mind captures another possibility. Maybe ability isn’t the problem anymore; maybe I just don’t want to remember.

I have a deadline on the thirtieth of next month and once again nothing comes. The clicking of my fingers on a dead keyboard fills the room. I hit the backspace for the hundredth time. Joyce called yesterday, said the editors were getting anxious; if I’m late this time, they’re going to consider just dropping the contract completely. I begin to wonder of I should have taken the extension they offered last month.

I shut the monitor off but leave the computer running. If I have to look at one more failed idea, I’ll shoot the computer. At this point, it’s my only source of income and my best friend by default. It’s rude to shoot your friends and it’s rude to shoot your paycheck, so I sit in front of a black screen and want to scream.

Worst-case scenarios run through my head. Maybe if I can picture myself alone and hungry in a shelter somewhere, I can scare the ideas out of hiding. The worst thing that comes to mind is moving back home with my parents. That wouldn’t be so bad. At least my dog doesn’t care whether or not I publish the next great American novel.

I start pushing my seat away from my desk and then pulling it back in. This amuses me and for a few moments I forget the rent is two weeks past due. I look at the clock on the wall. The digital numbers spit out 12:43. Okay, two weeks and forty-three minutes. Surprisingly, this doesn’t make me feel any better.

I consider getting up and walking to Jason’s. There are usually people there this time of night and I could get a joint or two and relax. Maybe I’d think better if my mind wasn’t so clear.

I consider the idea again as I reach to get my shoes. The thought of taking a shower crosses my mind for a moment and I set my Converse back down at the foot of my bed and grab some underclothes from my laundry basket. The logic of my actions escapes me seeing as how I’ll reek of pot and cigarette smoke when I leave Jason’s, regardless of how much I scrub right now. I walk into the bathroom anyway and turn on the scalding water.

In my mind, I map out the direction to his house. It’s more than just a few blocks, but still within walking distance. It’s a nice night anyway, I reason with myself. I completely disregard the fact that I have refused to drive since December 31, 2004. The thought enters my mind and lingers there, but I don’t pay it any mind.

As I step into the burning water, I remember a message on my machine from Cesar. He called about a week ago and invited me to a party. I called back and pretended to be enthusiastic at a chance to get out of the house. I think he and I both knew that I really had no intentions of going. I had forgotten about it until the hot water came down in smoldering spikes on my back.

I watch intently as the water begins to turn my pale skin a bright red. Then I attack it with my loofah sponge and scrub as hard as I can. There’s no logic to it, but it feels good. My hair hangs wet in front of my face and I can see little drops of blood raise on my arms. I put the loofah down and lean my head back to let the water boil over my scalp. Maybe this is the reason I have dandruff.

I empty the remains of a shampoo bottle on my head. It’s cooling under the blistering water and my scalp begins to turn numb as I massage it into my hair. Steam is rising out past the open shower curtain and the mirror is completely fogged. This intrigues me and I lean my head back, letting the water grab the soap from my hair.

The once boiling water has now turned lukewarm and some the feeling has returned to my head, leaving a tingling burning sensation on my scalp. I can feel the heat rising from my head as I step out of the shower and onto the cold tile. My feet shuffle along, avoiding the inevitable slip and death.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I almost don’t recognize the person as me. The skin is red and blotchy, the hair long and stringy from the heat. The heat in the room is almost unbearable and I grab my clothing and step out in the cool of my bedroom. I start to shake as I sit my wet body down on the cold comforter.

Part of my brain is telling me to hurry and dress, but another part refuses to let me rise from where I sit. The water dripping from my hair has cooled and I watch as it begins to pool between my unclothed legs. This actually keeps my attention and for a moment the ease with which I’m entertained concerns me. The drops remind me of rain and of blood. I block the memory before it can take control again. It doesn’t do much good.

The sound of tires on snow sounds in my ears again. The room darkens and all I can see in front of me is a black, starless night. I can hear him laugh and I want to cry. He’s singing Jingle Bells off-key and I’m laughing so hard my sides hurt. I see him smiling and laughing in slow motion and I want to cry. He’s blocked out by a quickly growing bright light. I turn and see on-coming headlights too late.

I shake my head violently, pressing the heel of my hands into my eyes. I don’t want hear the squealing of the tires. I don’t want the hollow sound of screaming to fill my ears. Tears flow out of my eyes and around my fists as my heart begins to race. The room starts to spin and I can feel myself begin to fall.

Silence. The comforter is cool against my aching back. I lay there in the silence for a moment, afraid to take my hands from my eyes, of what might be there if I look. My racing heart slows and my breathing begins to even. I let my hands fall to the bed on my sides and wait for the rest of my body to calm. There is a thin film of sweat over my entire body. I cringe at the pain as I try to swallow and realize the screaming I heard was my own.

Tears come freely as I open my eyes to a darkened room. The hum of the computer can be heard off in the corner. Outside, a distant siren rips through the night. For a split second, I wonder if my heart stopped. Or maybe it was a hope.

I close my eyes again and let my body relax against the bed. My muscles ache and my chest throbs. I can feel the burning tears on my cheeks. I make no sound as I cry. I’m not even sure it’s me that’s crying, but the tears come anyway.

Out in the hallway the air conditioner kicks on and I can feel cool air seeping in through the vents and cascading over my body, soothing my fevered skin. I look up at a blank ceiling again as I exhale deeply. I try to sit up and at met with a dizzy feeling. My body falls back against the bed. For the moment, I am resigned to helplessness.

I turn on my side, bringing my knees up into my chest. The air is fresh, but my eyelids are growing heavy. I can almost feel him beside me and a slight shiver runs down my spine. More than anything, I want him to be there to hold me, to tell me that everything’s going to be alright. But I am alone in the cold room, just like I have been every night for the past six months.

Short Story - Draco Means Dragon

The one thing that always sticks out in my mind when I think about Draco is that he made me laugh. It wasn’t that he had a great sense of humor or anything, but he made me laugh and at one time, that was something next to impossible to do.

I started working weekends at Rosa’s diner during the beginning of my senior year. I first met Draco there on a Saturday in January. It was fairly cool that day, around 65 or so. I remember because it never gets cold around here, save the rare day when the devil himself takes a day off and hell freezes over. Then the temperature will drop to around 70 – if we’re lucky. But that’s not really important. The only thing that truly matters is that it brought into my life the boy with the emerald green eyes, crooked smile, and mouse-brown hair that overtook his head in a mass of curls. What’s strange is that I couldn’t recall ever having seen before that day even though he claimed to be a regular there at the diner. I live in a small town and work at an equally small town diner which seats at most twenty people. At 5’11” and 270, Draco wouldn’t have been so easy to miss.

He wasn’t Draco then. He was Alex Ramstein. I dubbed him “Draco” because of the stupid ruby-eyes dragon pendant he always wore. He played with it all the time and his constant fidgeting really got on my nerves. He always did that when he talked. “Stop that, it’s annoying,” I would tell him as he repeatedly traced the intricate designs on the silver metal with his thumb. “Sorry,” he would say as he turned slightly red and dropped the necklace to his chest. It never failed, though, that he would be playing with it again with it again within a few minutes. The funny thing is, now that he’s gone, it’s one of the things I miss the most.

Ten years ago, I didn’t know that “draco” was Latin for “dragon.” Alex taught me that. He loved to talk, but he called it “enlightening.” I guess he saw himself as some great philosopher destined to spread the truth of life or something. Whatever his reasoning, I knew he just liked to talk, but that was okay by me. I had never been much of a talker and could sit and listen to Draco for hours on end and never be bored. He longed for social interaction and I longed for a distraction from my less than perfect life. We bonded immediately; probably because in our own way we were both outcasts. I live in virtually pure isolation by my own choice to dwell in self-pity. Draco just never got close to anyone…but me. He was a guardian, a teacher and a friend, but most of all he was just misunderstood.

My life turned upside down my senior year of high school. My parents were getting a divorce after twenty-seven years of marriage because apparently my father found his twenty-one year olds secretary more desirable than my forty-three year old mother. Their previously constant fighting turned into all-out warfare once my father filed for a divorce. My mother sank into a deep depression and when she moved back home with my grandmother, I moved in with my brother to escape the chaos at home. So, I was to live with him and his two roommates in an apartment meant for a single person until the divorce was finalized and things returned to some semblance of order at home.

It was shortly after I moved out that my boyfriend of eight months left me for some little short skirt that lived three towns over. I guess he wanted someone more open seeing as how they’d been servicing each other the last four months of our relationship. I knew just how my mother felt. Three months later, she left him. The gods have a way of getting their revenge. He committed suicide a year after that. Nobody knew how I felt. I tried to detach myself, but pain lingers longer than anyone would like to admit.

Between all that, trying to keep up in school, and working part-time in hopes of saving up enough money for the first semester of the college education that I was sure I’d never have a chance of getting. I knew I was slowly loosing my sanity. Draco waltzed into my life right about this time and not a moment too soon. He loved to entertain and his stories were a long-awaited distraction to my slowly deteriorating life.

That first Saturday together was a turning point in my life. I was supposed to be off that weekend, but Rosa’s daughter has come kind of competition to go to, so I was expected to fill in. For the first Saturday since I had started at the diner, it wasn’t packed and since there was no work to be done, I took to a booth at the back of the diner and proceeded to sit and feel sorry for myself. I was angry and depressed when I heard the bell at the door jingle, letting everyone know that we had out first customer of the day. I saw that tall guy out of the corner of my eye. In my opinion, he looked like a hobo and I decided to bypass him. Besides, there was another waitress on shift. But when he walked into the diner, no one else seemed to notice him. I rolled my eyes and decided against waiting on him. Let the others do their job for once.

It surprised me when I looked up from the table and saw him sitting in front of me. I was in no mood to talk. When he introduced himself as Alex, I smiled sarcastically and ignored him. When he asked me my name, I took out a napkin and started on some sketches for an art project I hoped to start later. Maybe he would get the hint. He didn’t. He just kept talking. And for a while, I just kept ignoring him. At one point, though, and completely against my will, my ignoring turned into listening.

He talked about how much he loved coming here, how he adored Rosa’s cooking. There wasn’t anything like it back home. I had never seen him before and told him so. He shrugged, “I get that a lot.” Uh-huh. He sure was creepy. Interesting, but creepy. But I was finding myself intrigued and that irritated me. I wasn’t in the mood to be intrigued. This stranger was disrupting my plans for wallowing in my self-pity. Finally, I met his eyes with the coldest glare I could manage.

He stopped talking for a moment and established unyielding eye contact, firmer than I would have expected. His bright green eyes took me aback and for a short-lived moment, I was speechless. In a cruel way, I almost felt sorry for the guy. He looked like I had gotten his hopes up, like I was going to listen to his rambling. I smiled inwardly as I imagined myself brutally shooting down these hopes.

“Yes?” he asked, inquisitively. Is face was still open and warm and his voice was soft. It produced the kind of sound that just flows through your mind. My heart melted just a little.

“Why are you still here?” I asked. I was a bit disappointed when my voice wasn’t as cold and cruel as I had hoped.

“Because you need someone to talk to,” he said plainly, looking at me with a strong confidence that I took to be nothing more than a lonely guy looking for a sad little girl to save. I wasn’t in the mood to be saved.

“I don’t want to talk to you or anyone else for that matter,” I said flatly, “Please leave now.”

Alex didn’t flinch. He simply replied calmly, “I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

My response was a bitter attitude combined with a sarcastic raise of the eyebrow. “Look, buddy, I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but why don’t you spare yourself the embarrassment and just leave now. I’ve already made it crystal clear that I don’t want –“

Alex put his hand up to silence me. My eyes bugged; I wasn’t about to let some holier-than-thou punk cut me off. But when I opened my mouth, no words would come. I guess he shut me up anyway. “I never said it was what you wanted,” he said warmly, “I said it was what you needed.

I didn’t know what to say. I don’t think there was anything to say. We just became friends and every Saturday after that was the same. We got together every weekend after I got off work and sometimes Alex would come and talk to me during my lunch hour. Most often, though, we met in the park and sat on the grass until the sun went down. The entire time, Alex talked and the entire time I listened.

Time told me that Alex was as unique as the hand-carved dragon that hung around his neck. The ruby-eyes pendant, he told me one Saturday, was to remind him if where he had been and where he was going. I’m guessing I had a confused look on my face because Alex willingly took this opportunity to explain. Or maybe he just wanted to talk some more. I knew that Alex’s life revolved around magick and fantasy and I shouldn’t have been surprised at the answer I got.

“I was a dragon in a past life,” he explained to me, his green eyes darkening in seriousness, “and not just any dragon either. I was the great Draconis Maximus, the grandest of all dragons. Now, it’s true that all dragons exhibit strength, power, wisdom and longevity, but I was the epitome of all these things,” his eyes took on a sad look as he continued, “I had a horrid flaw, though. I had a love for beautiful things that slowly shifted from obsession to greed. In the end, it cost me everything, even my life.”

I was listening with a half smile and a raised eyebrow. Alex smiled slightly and continued, “Everyone has a lesson to learn in life. I need to learn to appreciate beauty and value without lusting after either or allowing them to destroy my humble person. When my lesson’s been learned, I’ll enter a utopia so grand it can’t even be conceived by the human imagination. The necklace reminds me that my end reward is greater than any petty thing this life could offer.” His eyes were sad and he war a far off look on his face.

I sat there for a moment, smiling and taking all of this in. Listening to Alex meant listening to a master storyteller. He took me on grand adventures though we never went further than the park five blocks from my house. Alex entertained me and made me think. He made me think a lot. And now he had me thinking about his destiny…and my own. Looking at my own life, I couldn’t help but think maybe there was some hidden meaning in all the chaos.

I leaned over and took the pendant between my forefinger and thumb tracing the designs in the cold metal. “So where’d you get it?” Alex shrugged, “I never got it. I always had it.” Uh-huh. “Lesson, huh? Interesting.” He nodded.

“So…what do you think my lesson is, then?” I asked cautiously. I didn’t want to appear too overly interested in what he had to say or too eager to hear the answer, but my curiosity was killing me. The growing seriousness in Alex’s face wasn’t helping the situation one bit. “I mean, there has to be something, doesn’t there? Look at this, look at me, look at my life, what the hell kind of lesson am I supposed to learn from this mess?”

He leaned in close to me, his face inches from mine, “There is so much anger in such a pretty face. Nothing I the life has been easy for you and it never will be.”

I scoffed, “Thanks for the encouragement,” I said sarcastically. It surprised me when I heard his voice in my ear. I could feel the heat from his breath on my face; feel his body close to mine. His liquid voice poured forth wisdom I’ll never forget, “Your lesson, my love, is to learn to love yourself.”

I smiled and responded playfully in a forced whisper, “Draco, you’re so full of shit.” He just sat there and smiled. His stories were just that – stories, but the look in his eyes when he talked made me wonder at times what was going through his head when he spun his tales.

Over the next eight months or so, we had endless conversations just like the one about the dragon pendant. In the beginning, I took a chance and invited some of my friends along. I wanted more than anything for them to see Draco the way I saw him. His smile laugh were contagious and I loved to watch his eyes dance as he told stories. He talked of things that enthused and thrilled me. Time and time again, he told of far off places full of beauty and life. He talked of being one with the earth and said that, if you listened close enough, you could hear her speaking to you. He loved to tell stories of parallel universes where the booked we read, the films we watched, and our fantasy became real. He talked endlessly and I listened faithfully.

My friends, though, didn’t trust the confidence with which he preached his extremely unorthodox views. They didn’t trust his sleepy eyes or crooked smiled and they didn’t care for his choice of clothing. According to them, his choice of tattered jeans, old t-shirts under flannel over-shirts made him look like a homeless tramp. They thought he was dangerous and an overall lunatic. I saw a side of my friends I had never seen before, a side that distrusted anything they couldn’t understand. Sure enough, they stopped coming around. I didn’t care. I thought he was a genius, but that wasn’t what made me stay. It was the way he made me feel. The way his eyes lit up when he knew I was wrapped up in another one of his stories reminded me of a child on Christmas. The pure, raw emotions in his eyes made me feel like my own happiness was the sole source of his.

At first, I attributed it to nothing more than coincidence, but when Draco came into my life, things started to change for the better. It was nothing big at first, but I soon found myself smiling and laughing more. Looking at my life, things were no different. My family was still being ripped apart at the seams and I couldn’t return home because of the constant chaos that ensued there. My brother’s apartment was still cramped and unsanitary and I was still sleeping on a couch that seemed to have been ripped of all its cushion surrounded by piles of dirty clothing and empty pizza boxes. My life was still a mess and yet, I didn’t think things were so bad anymore. Despite it all, I was happy. I had learned to see the world through Draco’s eyes. It was so easy for him to find beauty in the strangest places and, lying beside him in the dark counting the constellations, I had finally found the sense of peace I had lost so long ago. All the while, Draco sat by and watched with a sleepy smile on his face.

Graduation came and went, but all it meant for me was the chance to spend the summer with Draco. August seemed far away and college applications were a thing of the past destined to not pan out. The only thing that meant anything that summer were the nights spent with Draco under the stars. The stars hold a special meaning for me. I think that’s because it’s one of the few things I can honestly say I associate with Draco. He left without a trace that summer and the only things that remained were the memories. Even now, they’re the only things that remind me that summer was real, that I was alive.

We were lying by the lake on night, looking up at the stars when Draco said something totally out of the blue. I had known him for almost a year now, but it still took me by surprise.

“I’m going home someday,” he said, looking up at the stars.

I looked over at him in the darkness, confused, “What?”

“We all are,” he said, matter-of-factly, “We all get to go home in the end.”

I thought it was going to lead to one of his long-winded stories and I was disappointed when he was silent. I studied him in the darkness. His features seemed magnified in the shadows and he looked almost ethereal. It sent a chill down my spine, and for some reason I felt an emptiness form at the core of my soul. I had the urge to keep him talking. I couldn’t let him stop talking.

I rolled over on my side next to him. “Tell me about your home, Draco,” I whispered into the night.

He was silent for a moment and I was almost afraid that he wasn’t going to talk again. It was strange, but I had a hanging hear that it was the last few words I would ever hear him say and it brought tears to my eyes. Looking back now, though, it made perfect sense.

Looking up at the sky, he put a spread palm against the darkness. He moved it across, motioning towards the stars and the endless night above us. “My home is in the stars,” he said. There was almost sadness in his voice, but I was just glad to hear it again. A wave of relief came over me. “It’s beautiful there.”

“What does it look like?” I asked quietly.

“What does it matter?” Draco whispered, still gazing up into the stars, “There is more to beauty than what the eyes can see. True beauty is seen with the heart. You know you’re home when you know you belong.”

I nodded and laid back in the grass. It was getting late and I knew I had to be getting home. It was the end of the summer and the August non hung low in the sky. I love the outdoors and I loved being with Draco, but I was longing for the couch in the dirty little room I called home. I sat up and patted Draco on the shoulder, “I gotta get going,” I said. He nodded and stood.

We stood face to face in the moonlight and for the first time I realized how beautiful he really was. His eyes sparkled and his smile brought a warm feeling into the atmosphere. Moonlight shone off his cheeks, giving him a vague silver halo. There was a sadness in his though, a look of loss. It wasn’t especially depressing, but it made me wonder what going through his mind. And then he hugged me. No, hugged isn’t the word. He took me into his arms and then took me into his soul; for a moment, I became part of Draco. He held me inside him and it hit me that it was the first time he had ever touched me.

In the entire time we had known each other, there had been no physical contact. But I hadn’t missed it and now he held me and I held him. His body was warm against mine, a reminder that what I held was real – at least, it was to me. I think at the moment, I knew what Draco meant by “true beauty.”

Walking home that night, I half expected to feel a sense of loss. I think a part of me knew I would never see Draco again, but all I could find was a sense of peace I had never known before. I couldn’t help but smile as I walked up the stairs to my brother’s apartment and slid the key in the door.

The moonlight poured through the windows into the dark room, giving me light to see my way to the couch. I sat down on the rock that had been my bed for over a year now and as I laid my key down, something on the coffee table caught me eye. A simple envelope was sitting there for me. I recognized the emblem on the white background immediately. It was from the college I had applied to earlier that summer. Picking up the letter, I felt its weight in my hand. I didn’t even have to open it now to know it was an acceptance letter. I laid my future back down on the table and laid my head down on the couch. Tonight, though, it wasn’t the discomfort that wouldn’t let m sleep.

I picked up the letter and walked out the door again and back down the stars. I wanted to say goodbye to Draco one last time before I left, but something told me that it couldn’t wait until morning. There was an urge in my chest that called me back to the park, the grass and the silver moonlight.

When I got to the park, though, Draco wasn’t there. I knew he wouldn’t be. My heart sunk a little as I walked to the lack and sat on the edge. I turned the envelope in my hands, feeling a little empty. As I witched the lake’s ripples play with the moon’s reflection, a mix of emotions I couldn’t explain overwhelmed me. It wasn’t a registered though, but an intense feeling that I had lost something beautiful and not realized its true worth until that very moment.

I laid back in the grass and closed my eyes. Draco’s smile appeared in the darkness and I heard his whisper in my ear again, “We all get to go home in the end.” I smiled and looked up at the midnight sky. The stars shone brilliantly and I took in the beauty of the night. A cool summer breeze crossed my skin and as I watched the sky, I saw a beam of life shoot through the night. I laughed and whispered into the darkness, “Goodbye, Draco.”

Everything that happened after that night isn’t important. Nothing will ever change me the way Draco did. They say that when a person comes into your life in your darkest hour, they’re your guardian angel, your lucky star. The problem with shooting stars and guardian angels is that they never stay for long. They waltz into your life, shining with brilliance and energy and make an imprint on your soul that you know time will not erase. Then they leave; just like that, they leave without a trace. No one else will remember them like you do, but in the end I don’t think that really matters. The only think that truly makes a difference is that your life is better because your paths crossed. I couldn’t say that he was lucky or even my guardian angel. All I know is that I couldn’t have gotten through what I did without him by my side. He very well could have been, but I’ve never put much stock into things like that.