O Star Child, Are You Listening?

Samantha Flores

As I laid on the stone on my bed, I kept thinking. And I would keep thinking about him for a while. The look on his face, the otherworldly green eyes, the peculiar reaction to me being there. For some reason, it took me a bit to ask myself why he was beaten so badly, not that I ever got an answer to the question.


I was a bit older when I saw him again. Six years had gone by, and it was nearing my fourteenth birthday. I had not forgotten him, but I did not think about him anymore, nor had I ever brought him up to anyone else. It would be bad if the Reverend found out about my lurking at night.


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The stranger wasn’t getting a beating this time. He was laying down on a bench, all wrapped up in a coat and trying to sleep. It was then I had subconsciously concluded that he was homeless, or at least rather poor. That is not to judge– many of my people are in poverty. I thought that maybe he needed help, like my people did. I approached him with a bounce in my step. I was really happy to see him in a better state than before, all his wounds healed up but still bloodied. ‘The perfect state of being,’ as I once believed. 


“Excuse me sir,” I started, “May I have a seat?”


He opened his eyes to look up at me. His expression shifted from calm to surprised. Maybe a bit fearful, but it was hard to tell. He cleared his throat. “Oh, I’m– I’m sorry if I was taking up space, I’ll go if you want to sit.”


He sat up, about to get off the bench, before I interrupted. “Actually, you can stay. I’m quite alright with you being here… I was just wondering if I could talk with you.”


When I asked that, he tensed up, glancing away. “If… If that’s what you want, I guess.” He leaned forwards, staying seated on the bench.


I took my seat next to him with a smile. “How are you doing?”


“Just alright. Y’know, making my way through life.” 


“Mm. What is life to you?”


He gave me an odd look, still tense. “…That’s a big question to ask a stranger, kid.”


“I’m just curious. Everyone has different ideas. Maybe thinking about what it is you’re living for can help motivate you to live it.” 


He stayed quiet. I hoped I didn’t hit a nerve by accident. I kept talking. “But, we don’t have to talk about that if you don’t want to. You’re right, we are just strangers.”


“It’s alright. Though, could I ask you something?” I nodded, and he continued. The fact that he swiftly avoided my question did not fly over my head, but I assumed he didn’t have an answer. “Why talk to me?”


“I thought you could use some friendly words. Anyone can benefit from a little bit of kindness and love in their life.” I paused, thinking through my next words. I decided not to bring up seeing him all those years ago. “Just maybe, that anyone could be someone in need of help. And I would be glad to offer help.”


“That’s a big weight to put on yourself.”


This had confused me. No, no it wasn’t a big weight. “Helping others isn’t a burden. It’s a blessing to be able to offer kindness to others.”


“Yeah, but…” He sighed. “It’ll weigh on you. You’ve got good intentions, but the end result won’t be what you hope it is. There’ll be times where you doubt everything you’ve ever known.”


What he meant was still eluding me. My voice kept going, wanting to prove my truth, my love for the world. “What’s important is helping everyone to provide the chance for a brighter future. There is no time to doubt when we need to shine a light for the good in the world.”


“The future is impossible to determine. Even if there’s no good in the world, the world’s gonna keep going either way.” I opened my mouth to keep the argument going, but he interrupted, waving me off. He sounded almost melancholic. “Though, you’re still young, yeah? I don’t wanna mess with your truth if you believe in it. Just… Think for yourself, don’t let others think for you. Direct your heart towards your truth, and nobody else’s.”


None of his words made sense to me. He stood up, scratching his neck. “I should go. Nothing against the talk, I just have stuff to do.”


Now I was the quiet one, staring off at nothing. It felt like he wasn’t answering the questions I said, but talking to someone else…


“Hey.” I looked up at him, disturbed by his sudden voice. He was looking down at me. His eyes were green with exhaustion, filled with stars.


“To answer your first question… Life’s not something people can control. It’ll keep going, and the path life treads just gets altered by the choices made. Nothing is impossible, and nothing is inevitable.” He looked away, up into the dull sky. “You’ve just gotta live for something. As long as you aren’t living just to die.”


The stranger glanced at me one last time, this time a small smile on his face. “Make the right choices, kid.”


Then, he walked away.


That conversation was engraved into my mind. I had sat in silence on that bench for what must have been hours. I didn’t know what to make of it for a long time. At times, it would keep me up at night, though those times were few and far between. I had a lot more troubling things to worry about at the time.


I guess I found out what he meant by ‘doubting everything I’ve ever known’, though. Ever since I was to be laid down upon that altar, I think my mind finally connected those dots. I can only be thankful that I survived, slowly but surely clearing my mind of the blindfold that covered my red tinted vision.


Another six years would pass with no sight of him. Then, I was twenty. It was three years after I had met what was supposed to be the love of my life. Two years after the date of what was supposed to be my death. One year after I tried to give up my life. 


This was the last time I saw him for my entire life. I had been hiding in the shadows of the streets, now in the kind of situation that I used to help people with, although truthfully it was more ‘taking advantage of.’ We were all taken advantage of. I thought I was helping, when I was really just as much of a fool as my people. I looked up into the sky that starry night, and saw him sitting on the rooftop of a building. He was looking right at me.


He waved. I was too stunned to move.


Maybe I should have taken that chance to call out to him and ask him questions. He knew more than he had let on. He would have answers to my questions. Yet, I didn’t. I simply stared up at him. Twelve years had gone by since I first saw him and he hadn’t changed a bit, while I was beginning a whole new life.


The stranger grinned, happier than I’d ever seen him. His expression was resolute, like something that had been bothering him was fixed. From where I stood, I could only glimpse a few of the scars that glittered his arms and legs, but the sight reminded me of… me.


He jumped off the building. I gasped, trying to get a view of where he fell…


But where he should have landed, there was nothing. It was like he was never even there. 


My mind wandered up to the Stars. Perhaps my childhood instinct was right. That man was something beyond the stars, something beyond what my blood could comprehend.


Or perhaps he was an ordinary person with nowhere left to go. How kind of him, to lead me where he could not.

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